Cold Case: Murder in a Gresham street

“There’s no true closure,” Anne’s brother Erik Hanson said

It has been nearly 28 years since Anne Hanson was stabbed to death and her body found in the middle of a Gresham street. (Family photo)

GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — It has been nearly 28 years since Anne Hanson was stabbed to death and her body found in the middle of a Gresham street.

Anne’s brothers and the first police officer to respond to the scene sat down with KOIN 6’s Jennifer Hoff, hoping the interview would lead to a break in the cold case.

“It was beyond what is necessary to simply kill somebody,” Gresham Police Captain Claudio Grandjean said about the case. “It was going way beyond that.”

Capt. Grandjean, who was just a rookie cop at the time, sat in his office watching the reenactment of the grisly murder that inspired a TV pilot.

Looking back on that day, he remembered a puddle of blood around Anne, her body lying in the intersection of SE Roberts Avenue and Dowsett Lane.

Anne's body was found in the intersection of SE Roberts Avenue and Dowsett Lane. (Gresham PD)
Anne’s body was found in the intersection of SE Roberts Avenue and Dowsett Lane. (Gresham PD)

“It’s just a better way to operate, to not make things personal,” Grandjean explained. “But this one is definitely personal.”

Anne was walking the last mile home after riding the MAX from a local festival around 1:40 a.m. one September day in 1988.

“The call we got was… of a woman down. They were frantic, almost hysterical,” Grandjean said, noting that violence was rare in the quiet neighborhood. “It wasn’t something that, even today… as much as we’ve (Gresham) has grown, that still doesn’t seem like something that would happen now.”

In his police report, Grandjean noted Anne wasn’t robbed. She also wasn’t raped. There didn’t seem to be any reason behind what had happened.

Police didn’t have any viable leads to hold onto.

Grandjean recently shared never-before-seen pictures of the grisly murder scene. He also uncovered photos of dozens of searchers who canvassed the Springwater Trail area for days that turned into weeks, and weeks that turned into years.

“There’s no true closure,” Anne’s brother Erik Hanson said. “You just kind of cope with it and you keep it in your head and you adjust and you keep a relationship with her in your own way. I think that’s the best way to put it because they’re never going away.”

Erik and John Hanson said their sister loved to ski, play soccer and bake.

Search crews canvassed the Springwater Trail after Anne Hanson's murder. (Gresham PD)
Search crews canvassed the Springwater Trail after Anne Hanson’s murder. (Gresham PD)

“You could sense what great potential she had,” John said. “And that great potential was snuffed out.”

The murder, though, weighed most on Anne’s mom.

“She definitely took that sadness to her grave, for sure,” John said.

Hoff asked Grandjean if she thought the case would ever get solved. “That’s a good question,” he said. “I don’t know, but I’m hopeful, I’m a pretty optimistic person.”

Without a suspect, getaway plan or murder weapon, hope may be all Grandjean has.

“I imagine for the family, there’s a big hole,” Grandjean said. “There’s a lack of closure because there’s no sense of justice.”

Another reason the case is so tough is because police didn’t recover any DNA. Investigators may try a new test called touch DNA, but it’s tricky.

What else makes this case tough is the police didn’t recover any DNA. They might try a new test called touch DNA, but it’s tricky. Forensic labs say it includes testing transferred skin cells with an object that is handled or touched.

But just because a person touched something, doesn’t mean they left DNA behind.

To learn more about the test, click here or here.

If you have any tips about Anne Hanson’s murder please call 503.618.2719.

Tipsters can remain anonymous.

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