As the title suggests, ‘Cold Blooded Alaska’ is a true-crime series that explores those harrowing Alaskan homicides that can only be described as atrocious. After all, the cases that take center stage here delve into everything from greed to passion to psychotic tendencies, which go way beyond anything the public or the law enforcement could have ever imagined. Thus, of course, its season 1 episode 4, aptly entitled ‘Love Bomb,’ profiling the murder of Hank Dawson, is no different. And now, if you’re curious to know the details about the same, we’ve got you covered.
How Did Hank Dawson Die?
At the age of 50, Robert Lee “Hank” Dawson was a proud husband, father, step-father, son, and sibling when his life was snatched away from him in the blink of an eye. The Army veteran had served on tours with the U.S. Army Reserve and the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve after leaving active duty, and only then did he join the Alaska Army National Guard in 1984. Hank’s position as Chief Warrant Officer also gained him undeniable respect in his community in Wasilla, which is why his brutal, brash, and bold slaying on October 18, 1993, came as a complete shock to everybody.
Early that morning, the residents of the small suburb of Anchorage heard a loud explosion, and soon after, reports of a vehicle fire inside the gates of the Army National Guard Armory came to light. The officials there extinguished the pickup truck while trying their best to preserve any evidence, and their efforts led to the recovery of a partial license plate and a men’s wallet. There was proof of charred human remains inside as well, which ultimately pinpointed that Hank Dawson lost his life just at the doors of the Alcantra Armory Complex because his car went up in flames.
Who Killed Hank Dawson?
Considering Hank’s location and the simple fact that he was no stranger to heavy weaponry, it was initially suspected that he could have had something in his car that just went off. However, as investigations ensued, detectives found evidence of a remote-controlled detonation device at the crime scene, making it clear that his death was not an accident but a homicide. He didn’t have any enemies per se, and he’d married a local woman and single mother named Terri Lynn, whom he was still tied to. Yet, the truth about their tumultuous union came to light shortly after.
As per a tip that came almost a week after the tragic incident, the couple had financial issues, which put a terrible strain on their marriage. Hence, to escape from that and find some comfort, Terri had turned to their next-door neighbor and supposed friend, Jim Wheeler. One of Jim’s friends, who made the call, told officials that Jim had fallen in love with her and had said some disturbing things right before the explosion because Terri had supposedly implied that she’d be with him if Hank weren’t in the picture. When questioned, Terri admitted to the affair but denied ever wanting to be with Jim for good as she and Hank were slowly rebuilding their relationship.
Investigators subsequently got Jim’s confession via legal wiretapping, where he told his friend that he’d paid someone $13,000 to plant a remote-control bomb in the cab of Hank’s pickup and detonate it when the time was right — all so he could be with Terri. Even when he was arrested for first-degree murder, though, he refused to talk about his role in the matter or identify the actual bomber. It wasn’t until detectives found the name of miner Ronald Earl Geiger in Jim’s telephone book that they uncovered the former had used his mining license to buy dynamite without raising suspicions. Ronald later admitted to his involvement but claimed that he was coerced into the act by Jim.
Eventually, while Jim was found guilty as charged, Ronald’s case went to federal court due to his dismissible confession and a lack of concrete evidence (despite the receipt for the dynamites and his sudden cash richness). There, he was convicted of malicious destruction of a vehicle used in and affecting interstate commerce, using and carrying a firearm in connection with a crime of violence, and possession of a destructive device. He was thus sentenced to life in prison, plus 30 years.
Where is Terri Dawson Now?
From what we can tell, although Terri Dawson still resides in Wasilla, Alaska, and has moved on with her personal life, she prefers to keep the details of it well away from the spotlight. She has made it no secret that the past has affected her as well, but it seems like she appreciates the sound support system she now has by her side. In other words, it’s safe to assume that Terri is doing her best to focus on the positives of her current situation these days.
Read More: Where is Jim Wheeler Now?