Hidden City Crime File: Anchorage
Filed Under: crime
Marcus heads to the cold wilderness of Anchorage to investigate the stories of murdered police chief John J. Sturgus, serial killer Robert Hansen and undercover US Fish and Wildlife agent Lucinda Schroeder. Explore their tales in this crime file.
John J. SturgusWho: John Jack Sturgus was born on Dec. 24, 1861, in Mansfield, OH. He was in law enforcement in several states before moving to Alaska. He served as a US deputy until he was appointed the first chief of police in Anchorage. His salary was $200 a month.
What: Sturgus had been on the job for 6 weeks when he was shot in an alley behind a drugstore. It has been said that he was shot with his own gun. The city council, mayor and other council members pledged a $1,950 reward for finding his killer, but his homicide still remains unsolved today. It is said that his ghost haunts the Anchorage Hotel.
Where: Sturgus was murdered in Anchorage, AK.
When: Sturgus moved to Alaska in 1913, and relocated to Anchorage in 1916. He was appointed chief of police on Dec. 22, 1920, and his terms started Jan. 1, 1921. Sturgus was shot on Feb. 20, 1921.
Robert HansenWho: Robert Christian Hansen was born on Feb. 15, 1939, in Estherville, IA. A loner, he was often bullied in school for his stutter. He also had a strained relationship with his strict father. Hansen was married twice and had 2 children. He served in the Army Reserve but was discharged after a year.
Hansen was arrested for several crimes, including arson and theft. He served several stints in jail and during his 1977 imprisonment, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. After he was released, he opened a bakery in Anchorage, AK. The community accepted him, and he earned many accolades for his hunting skills.
What: Robert Hansen raped and assaulted more than 30 Alaskan women. He is responsible for the murder of at least 17 of them. It has been said that after raping and torturing the women, Hansen “hunted them.” Most of the women whom he confessed to murdering were strippers and prostitutes. Hansen’s killing spree started to unravel when one of his victims, a prostitute named Cindy Paulson, escaped as he was preparing to take her to his “cabin” in the Alaskan wilderness. She identified Hansen as her attacker but it became a "he said, she said" situation.
At the same time, Anchorage police had been investigating the death and disappearance of several women. They had called in the FBI and agent Roy Hazelwood profiled the killer as a good hunter with low self-esteem. He said he probably had a stutter and would keep souvenirs from his victims. This led police to suspect Hansen and after searching his residences, they discovered jewelry from the victims along with a variety of weapons and a map with Xs on it. The weapons were eventually tied back to the crimes and the map served as a guide for finding the bodies.
Where: Hansen’s murders took place in Anchorage, AK.
When: Hansen was first arrested in 1960, and went onto serve jail terms throughout the '60s and '70s. He moved to Anchorage in 1967. His attacks against women in Alaska occurred from 1971 to 1983. Hansen pled guilty to the charges on Feb. 18, 1984, and was sentenced to 461 years without parole on Feb. 27, 1984, by Superior Court Judge Ralph E. Moody. Hansen was first imprisoned at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, PA. In 1988, he was returned to Alaska and is currently imprisoned at Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward, AK.
In the media: Actor John Cusack is set to portray Hansen in the upcoming film The Frozen Ground. Nicolas Cage will play the role of Alaska state trooper Sergeant Jack Halcombe and Vanessa Hudgens that of Cindy Paulson. The film is scheduled for release in December 2012.
Lucinda SchroederWho: Lucinda Schroeder was born in the Philippines. Her parents were in the military so her family moved throughout the US. She earned a BA degree in criminology from the University of Maryland. Schroeder served as a federal agent for the law enforcement division of the US Fish and Wildlife Service for 30 years. She was the first female undercover agent.
What: In 1992, Lucinda went undercover to try to shut down an illegal poaching camp in the Alaskan wilderness. She had to infiltrate a ring of international poachers who were out to kill big game in Alaska. Lucinda had to gain their trust; she often found herself having to hunt wildlife in order to prove herself. She also discovered a network of guides and pilots who were aiding the poachers. After much work she was able to collect enough evidence to take them down.
Where: Lucinda went undercover in the Brooks Range wilderness.
When: Schroeder went undercover in August 1992, leaving behind her husband and daughter.
In the Media: Schroeder has written a book about her experience, A Hunt for Justice: The True Story of a Woman Undercover Wildlife Agent.