DNA Match IDs Alaska Serial Killer’s Victim After 37 Years

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska—A pistillate known for 37 years lone arsenic Horseshoe Harriet, 1 of twelve oregon truthful victims of a notorious Alaska serial killer, has been identified done familial genealogy and a DNA match, authorities said Friday.

The victim was identified Friday arsenic Robin Pelkey, who was 19 and surviving connected the streets of Anchorage erstwhile she was killed by Robert Hansen successful the aboriginal 1980s, the Alaska Bureau of Investigation’s Cold Case Investigation Unit said.

“I would similar to convey each of the troopers, investigators, and analysts that person diligently worked connected this lawsuit implicit the past 37 years. Without their hard enactment and tenacity, the individuality of Ms. Pelkey whitethorn person ne'er been known,” Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell said successful a statement.

Hansen, who owned a bakery, gained the nickname “Butcher Baker” for abducting and hunting down women—many of them enactment workers—in the wilderness conscionable northbound of Anchorage done the aboriginal 1980s, erstwhile the state’s largest metropolis was booming due to the fact that of operation of the trans-Alaska pipeline.

Construction of the 800-mile pipeline offered good-paying jobs for workers, but it besides attracted those who wished to marque wealth disconnected of them, everyone from enactment workers to cause dealers. Many of those radical looking for accelerated wealth near arsenic rapidly arsenic they came, and exotic dancers traveled a circuit on West Coast cities, making abrupt disappearances commonplace.

Retired trooper Glenn Flothe, who helped enactment Hansen down bars, told the Anchorage Daily News successful 2008 that Hansen’s victims initially included immoderate pistillate who caught his eye, but helium rapidly learned that strippers and prostitutes were harder to way and little apt to beryllium missed.

The 2013 movie “Frozen Ground,” starring Nicolas Cage and John Cusack, chronicled the troopers’ probe and seizure of Hansen.

CORRECTION_Alaska_Serial_Killer_victim_ID_21295711798233 Alaska serial slayer Robert Hansen successful October 1971. (Anchorage Daily News via AP)

Hansen was convicted successful the deaths of 4 women but confessed to sidesplitting respective more, troopers said. At 1 point, helium flew with investigators implicit an country northbound of Anchorage, wherever helium pointed retired wherever 17 of his victims were buried.

In 1984, Alaska State Troopers returned to those areas, wherever the remains of 8 women were discovered. In total, 12 bodies person been found, and 11 of those person been identified, trooper spokesperson Austin McDaniel said.

The lone idiosyncratic not yet identified is known lone arsenic Eklutna Annie, who is believed to person been Hansen’s archetypal victim, McDaniel said. Her assemblage was recovered adjacent Eklutna Lake conscionable northbound of Anchorage.

Genetic genealogy efforts are underway successful hopes of besides identifying her, Randy McPherron, an Alaska State Troopers acold lawsuit investigator, told The Associated Press.

“We truly got our fingers crossed that we whitethorn know, find retired who Eklutna Annie is,” helium said, adding the timeframe could instrumentality up to a year.

Among the skeletal remains recovered successful 1984, Pelsky was discovered lying connected the crushed adjacent Horseshoe Lake, adjacent the Little Susitna River conscionable a fewer miles northwest of Anchorage, troopers said.

There was nary ID connected the assemblage that became known arsenic Horseshoe Harriet. Hansen told investigators she was a enactment idiosyncratic helium abducted from downtown Anchorage sometime successful the wintertime of 1983. He told investigators helium flew her to the water successful his tiny airplane, murdered her, and discarded the body. He didn’t cognize her sanction oregon overmuch other astir her.

An autopsy confirmed the assemblage was that of a achromatic pistillate betwixt the ages of 17 and 23. There were nary missing idiosyncratic reports that matched, and she was buried successful the Anchorage municipal cemetery arsenic an unknown.

The lawsuit was reopened successful 2014, the aforesaid twelvemonth Hansen died successful situation astatine the property of 75.

The assemblage was exhumed, and samples were sent to make a DNA profile, which was added to the FBI’s nationalist missing idiosyncratic database. It didn’t supply an identification.

In September 2020, investigators made different effort to place the remains utilizing familial genealogy.

A bony illustration was sent to a backstage laboratory and further DNA was extracted and sent for Whole Genome Sequencing, troopers said. This information was past sent to different lab, wherever a DNA illustration was generated and uploaded into a nationalist entree genealogy database successful April.

alaska-serial-killer-victim Workers and aesculapian examiner unit members exhume the assemblage of Jane Doe #3 from a cemetery successful Anchorage, Alaska connected Sept. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Rachel D’Oro)

Troopers said respective adjacent matches were recovered and utilized to make a household histrion for the victim. Research indicated that the unfortunate mightiness beryllium a pistillate named Robin Pelkey, who was calved successful Colorado successful 1963, troopers said.

Troopers traced her to surviving successful Anchorage successful the aboriginal 1980s, but nary grounds indicated she was live aft 1984.

Eventually, adjacent relatives were located successful Arkansas and Alaska. Family members told troopers that Pelkey lived successful Anchorage successful the precocious 1970s, but moved to Arkansas arsenic a teen earlier returning to Alaska successful 1981 to unrecorded with her begetter and stepmother.

Troopers said she coiled up surviving connected the streets of Anchorage but had vanished by precocious 1982 oregon aboriginal 1983.

Relatives told troopers they didn’t cognize for definite wherefore Pelkey’s parents, who are present deceased, didn’t study her missing.

A DNA lucifer with a adjacent comparative successful Arkansas confirmed Pelkey’s individuality and the household was notified successful September. Through the troopers, household members said they did not privation to beryllium contacted by the media.

“Obviously, I’m precise blessed to person yet figured retired who she is and springiness her household immoderate closure,” McPherron said. “Genetic genealogy has been rather a large leap guardant successful solving unsolved homicides but successful besides identifying people, truthful this is precise satisfying to spot it yet travel unneurotic similar this.”

Troopers person purchased a caller sedate marker for Pelkey, McDaniel said.

By Mark Thiessen

The Associated Press