Victim of Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen exhumed for DNA tests

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 04, 2014 2:03 PM

By Victoria Cavaliere

(Reuters) - The remains of a young woman murdered 30 years ago by Alaska's most notorious serial killer has been exhumed in the hopes of finally confirming her identity, officials said Thursday.

The woman was one of 17 victims killed in the 1970s and 1980s by Robert Hansen, who died in prison last month. His victims, many of them prostitutes, were kidnapped and then released in the wilderness where he hunted them down like game, police said.

Two of Hansen's victims have never been identified, authorities said.

On Wednesday, the state medical examiner's exhumed the remains of one of those women, known to investigators as "Horseshoe Harriet" because her body was discovered in 1984 near Horseshoe Lake, said Jason Grenn, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Services.

He said the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which paid for the exhumation, will perform DNA testing and work up a facial reconstruction.

"With the new information they have, they are hoping to finally get an identity on her," he said.

Forensic and DNA experts from across the country will assist in the identification process, said Dr. Angela Williamson, who leads the Unknown Victim Identification Team at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

"The remains will undergo multiple forensic tests," she said. "A forensic anthropologist will more accurately determine this girl's age range."

DNA from the remains can be cross-referenced against DNA databases to try to link her to a family member, Williamson said.

Hansen's other unidentified victim, "Eklutna Annie" has already undergone facial reconstruction but so far, her identity still remains a mystery, Williamson said.

"Annie" was discovered in Eklutna, Alaska, and her remains are buried at the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery, under a header reading "Jane Doe: Died 1980," Grenn said.

Hansen was convicted in 1984 and sentenced to 461 years in prison. He died in August at the age of 75.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Seattle; Editing by Scott Malone)