The movie, Frozen Ground (2013) was indeed based on a true story. It was the year 1983. Cindy Paulson was barely 18 years old when she escaped the infamous serial killer, Robert Hansen. She was his first victim who managed to escape putting her quick wits into use.
From 1971 to 1983, serial killer Robert Hansen victimized 17 women. He would abduct them, and after raping and assaulting them, he would take them to a remote area where he would treat these women as some kind of wild animal for his hunt. The women would be made to run for their lives, while he would hunt them down and shoot or stab them. Had it not been for Cindy Paulson, he would have carried on with his murder spree.
Robert Hansen had bipolar disorder and several schizophrenic episodes. His inner turmoil seems to have been planted into him during his early childhood. He was the son of a Danish immigrant and grew up to be a baker just like his father. When he was a young kid in school, he was painfully shy and awkward and could not speak without stuttering. He also had a face full of acne that left permanent spots all over his face, making him unattractive to look at. As a result, he never got the attention of girls his age that he craved for. And as he was growing up, this unfulfilled desire within him started to turn into hatred for the opposite gender to the extent where he would later derive pleasure from assaulting and murdering women while they would beg for their lives.
In the summer of 1960, he married and settled down with a younger girl with who he had been in a relationship for some time now. But in December of the same month, he was arrested for burning down a school bus trying to avenge his unpopularity in school. During his incarceration, his wife filed a divorce and left him. According to the psychiatrist, he had an “infantile personality” and would do anything to get back at people who he felt had done him wrong in life.
Over the next few years, he had been charged several times with petty theft. In 1971, he was charged with an attempt to rape a housewife. It is believed, Robert Hansen set out on his killing spree from late 1971 or 1972 and continued to do so without getting caught, until 1983 when he encountered Cindy Paulson and tried to do the same with her.
What Happened To Cindy Paulson?
Cindy Paulson was a dancer and sex worker from Anchorage. At the age of 12, she ran away from her abusive home, met a pimp on her way, and started working for him. By the age of 15, she became his ‘main lady’.
In 1983, Cindy Paulson was stopped by a car passing by. The man in the car, Robert Hansen a.k.a the Butcher Baker offered her $200 in exchange for oral sex. Reluctant at first, finally she got into his car, where Cindy Paulson was handcuffed and held at gunpoint before being driven to his place in Muldoon.
There Cindy Paulson was raped several times, and soon after that when Hansen started showing off to her all his hunting trophies where his name was written, she realized he was about to kill her. Cindy Paulson had later told in one interview that he had even boasted to her about how he got away with assaulting and murdering 17 other women before her.
Eventually, Hansen drove her to Merrill Field airport where his plane was waiting. According to Cindy, Hansen wanted to take her out to his cabin where he would “make love” to her for one last time before killing her.
Cindy Paulson was already on the lookout to escape at any little chance she gets. So when Hansen got out of his car to load his plane, she quickly slid over from the backseat to the driver’s seat, got out, and ran for her life. She had left behind her shoes under his backseat as evidence. Initially, Hansen started to chase her but when a car stopped before her and picked her up, he ran back and drove away as fast as he could.
It was about 5 a.m. Cindy Paulson had finally escaped from the grasp of the Butcher Baker. She asked the driver to take her to the motel where her boyfriend was staying. On reaching the motel, still in handcuffs, she finally got hold of her boyfriend, and an employee from the motel called the Anchorage Police Department.
Catching the Butcher Baker:
On being inquired by the police, Cindy Paulson described the perpetrator and told them everything about him, including the shoes she had left in his car and the exact location of his plane. On reaching the airport, the police came in contact with an observant security guard, who on suspecting something wrong was going on, had noted down Hansen’s car number. Following these leads, the police reached him. But on being questioned, he completely denied the accusation saying that Cindy Paulson was just trying to get back at him for not paying her for her demands. And then with his humble job as a baker and a friend as his alibi, he easily got away from the suspecting eyes of the Anchorage Police Department.
The case went cold for a while until Detective Glenn Floathe got involved in a case of identifying several dead bodies of women in and around Anchorage. He had three dead bodies and it looked like all three of them had been committed by the same person.
He contacted the FBI and asked for some help with a criminal psychological profile. Special Agent John Douglas from the FBI who came to assist him concluded with the murderer being a man with low self-esteem and most probably having a history of being rejected by women. Douglas also concluded that this man they were looking for might have stuttering issues and was possibly storing jewelry from his victims, to keep them as souvenirs.
Using this information, Floathe started to investigate all possible suspects until he reached Hansen. With Cindy Paulson’s statement, the investigation was opened once again and Hansen’s house was searched where jewelry belonging to the women, and an aeronautical chart with “x” marks on it was found. These “x” marks matched with the places from where the bodies had been recovered, and soon several other bodies were discovered in all the places that had the mark on them.
Although initially, Robert Hansen kept pleading guilty, finally he confessed to the murder of 17 women and rape of over 30 women, ending up with a sentence of 461 years.
Where Is Cindy Paulson now?
Little is known about Cindy Paulson’s life publicly. When the movie, Frozen Ground (2013) was being made, based on her story, she agreed to speak with the actress who played her in the movie.
Cindy Paulson was in her 40s at that time, happily married, with three children, and living in Alaska. And that is all we know about her current life.
After the movie was made, she wrote a letter to the director saying that finally it “feels like a weight has been lifted”.