Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Philip Hanssen: The Spy who Stayed out in the Cold

Fox in the Henhouse

Hanssen's job as a Chicago cop who existed only to arrest other cops was stressful. Bonnie was under stress as well. By 1974 they'd had two young girls and one miscarriage. And her husband was trying to establish himself as the authoritarian in the household. It is Hanssen family lore that shortly after they were married Bonnie served Bob a big breakfast of ham, eggs and coffee. Midway through the meal Bob fell totally silent and stared into his empty cup. Eventually she asked him why.

"That's the way my father let my mother know he was ready for his second cup of coffee," he told her.

"Well, I'm sorry, but you're going to have to speak up around here," she shot back.

"Bob told me he was training Bonnie," his friend Marty Zeigner recounted. "He would try to do things like tip over a glass slowly and she was supposed to catch it before anything spilled. I don't think Bonnie put up with it for long."

He appeared to be a devoted father, yet some of his actions, which once appeared charmingly eccentric, now have different connotations.

A story that the Hanssen children used to laugh about concerned his wanting to give his eldest daughter Jane a head start in life. He told Bonnie he wanted to teach their Jane to read just after she reached her third birthday. When she was four, he also helped her through her first novelWar and Peace.

By 1975 John Clarke wanted Bob Hanssen out of the department. His protegee wanted out too. C-5 had made him controversial and when he had grabbed a defendant in a Chicago courtroom who was trying to escape, his feat wasn't recognized with a citation or a promotion. He began looking elsewhere, and Clarke was only too glad to help.

FBI logo
FBI logo

"I told him to get his fanny over to the FBI and he did. But he didn't get accepted the first time around," Clarke said.

The second time was the charm and on January 12, 1976, Bob Hanssen was sworn in. The fox was in place and inside the hen house.

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