Body of Alaska serial killer's victim exhumed

September 4, 2014 - 1:05 PM
Alaska Serial Killer-Victim

In this Sept. 3, 2014 photo, workers and medical examiner crew members work to exhume the body of Jane Doe #3 from a cemetery in Anchorage, Alaska. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is paying to exhume the remains of the victim of Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen with the hope DNA and facial reconstruction can provide the woman's identity. (AP Photo/Rachel D'Oro)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The remains of an unidentified victim of recently deceased Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen were being exhumed from an Anchorage gravesite, 30 years after her killer led authorities to her body near a lake north of the city.

Hansen confessed to killing 17 women in the 1970s and early '80s, hunting victims down in the wilderness as if they were game. Hansen died Aug. 21 at age 75 while serving a 461-year sentence in Alaska.

The exhumation at Anchorage Memorial Park Wednesday afternoon was for the remains of an unidentified woman believed to be in her late teens whose body was found April 25, 1984, near Horseshoe Lake.

"We know what happened to her," said Stephen Hoage, operations administrator for the state medical examiner's office, among those participating in the exhumation. "We're not trying to solve the crime. We just want her to be identified."

The woman became known as "Horseshoe Harriet" to some, according to Jason Grenn with the state health department. The agency oversees the medical examiner's office.

The work is being paid for by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which hopes DNA testing and facial reconstruction will lead to her identity. A former forensic anthropologist for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is working for the center on the case.

Hoage said the woman was among cases of unidentified and missing people that were being reviewed about six months ago by representatives of the center. They contacted his office about exhuming the body.

Authorities received permission to exhume the body the day before Hansen died, Hoage said.

"It was a very big coincidence," Hoage said as he stood near the dug-up site and a small grave marker for "Jane Doe #3."

The date on the marker is April 24, 1984, one day off of the date the body was found. But that's not the only discrepancy. Another Hansen victim, DeLynn Frey, reportedly also was found near the same lake on the same day, but Hoage said Frey was found near another lake in 1985.

Hansen was convicted in 1984 after confessing to killing 17 women, mostly dancers and prostitutes, during a 12-year span that included the state's oil pipeline construction boom in the 1970s. Hansen was convicted of just four of the murders in a deal that spared him having to go to trial 17 times.

Hansen was the subject of a 2013 film titled, "The Frozen Ground," which starred Nicolas cage as an Alaska State Trooper investigating the slayings. Actor John Cusack portrayed Hansen.

Hansen owned a bakery in a downtown mini mall. He lived across town with his wife and children, who knew nothing of his double life.

He would abduct the women and take them to remote places outside the city. Sometimes he would drive and other times he would fly his private plane. Investigators have said that in some instances Hansen would rape the women but return them to Anchorage, warning them not to contact authorities.

Other times, he would let the women go free in the wilderness and then hunt them with his rifle.

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