A former college football star is shot by a stalker.

Dick Hansen

Dick Hansen’s killer

CASE DETAILS

Dick Hansen was a former college football star from Sunnyvale, California. He was just getting over a tough divorce when he decided he needed a night out. So on April 29, 1991, he asked a friend, who we’ll call Jean, to meet him at his favorite hang-out. According to Jean:

“He was in a very good mood, very good. He was very happy with where he was, he was very happy with what was going on in his life and where he was headed.”

Dick was shot by the rogue motorist

Jean said she and Dick left the bar together in her car and drove to where Dick had left his pickup truck:

“There were no cars at all and I remarked to Dick, I said, ‘This is funny, yours is the only car left on the street.’ So we were sitting there talking, and this car pulls up behind us. And I looked, and I thought, I don’t even think it was too strange because there was a mailbox on the sidewalk there. The man just sat there, he didn’t do anything, and I was kinda half-turned in the seat so I could look at Dick, and I could see him out of the corner of my eye.”

Was the killer a crazed sports fan?

When it was time to leave, Jean said she was unfamiliar with the route home, so Dick told her to follow him:

“Well, he pulled out, I pulled out, the guy behind us pulled out. Moving up to the stoplight, turning left, Dick turned left, I turned left, the guy turned left. We go up two blocks and turned left again, and he did the same thing. Well, by this time it’s making me uncomfortable, so I moved to the middle lane. He moved to the middle lane. So I moved back. And he moved back. I only did it once, but that was enough to tell me that this man was definitely following us.”

At the next traffic light, Dick signaled for Jean to follow him onto the freeway. The man stayed close behind. For more than ten miles, Jean said, the man shadowed her every move:

“Dick was on the inside lane, I was on the outside and somehow we got the guy between us but behind us, and I thought, ‘All right, you rascal, I’m gonna get you.’ So I slammed on my brakes. I’ll be darned if he didn’t slam on his brakes, too. It was almost like he was reading my mind. I almost missed the turn, but he followed. This man was still behind me.  So I followed Dick down the ramp, we made a right hand turn. Dick just pulled over to the side of the road.  I pulled up behind Dick and I don’t know why in my mind I just knew this guy would just go right on by and wave or something. He pulled right up behind us. And I don’t know who was in more shock, Dick or me. So Dick walked back to the man and kinda leaned down, and he either said, what are you doing or what do you want? I couldn’t quite hear what he said. And the guy said something to him, and Dick goes, what? And the guy said something else to him and then proceeded to point to the back of my car. And at that point in time, Dick just stepped back, stood up and raised his arm and said, get the blankety-blank out of here. So I jumped back in my car and I looked in my rearview mirror and I hear pop – pop.

Dick went down. As the gunman sped off, Jean got out of her car:

“I ran back to where Dick was. And his eyes were like half closed. And I tried to find the pulse on his neck and it didn’t look like he was breathing, so I started to give him mouth to mouth.

Dick Hansen was shot twice, once in the chest and once in the neck. He never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at the hospital. He left behind two daughters, aged 11 and 13. According to Det. Les Richards of the Sunnyvale, California, Police Department, the authorities had trouble ascertaining a motive:

“As far as we know, Dick Hansen did not know his assailant. What makes this particular case extremely difficult is that most homicides boil down to common denominators of sex, money or drugs and network out from there. We have not been able to put this particular homicide in any of those categories so that we can develop a motive.”

Jean tried to lose the stalker

However, police have come up with one possible theory about this case. Jean’s personalized license plate read “Forty-Niner Hugs.” The killer had gestured toward her license plate while he was talking to Dick. Det. Richards wonder’s if the killer wasn’t a crazed sports fan:

“Dick Hansen’s physical stature was that of a football player, so we were looking into the theory of a disgruntled fan as being one of the responsibles.”

At the time of the shooting, Jean described the suspect as white, with a dark complexion.  He wore eyeglasses with large black frames. In addition, the suspect’s car looked like a 1970 Pontiac GTO LeMans. It was a two-door coupe, with a dull, faded, light grey or blue paint job. Dick Hansen’s killer remains at large.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season six with Robert Stack and in season four with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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37 Comments

  1. thinkingoutloud

    @ Dave…. you seem pretty defensive….maybe you did it

    Reply

  2. thinkingoutloud

    I think there is more to the story than Jean is giving. When she tells her story, she makes it seem like the guy is following only HER only move, not Dick’s. Not sure why Dick was shot, whether it was planned or not. I don’t think he was a crazed sports fan, why shoot Dick if he was pointing at Jean’s car? Doesn’t make sense. Also strange that he openly shot Dick but left a witness as JOHN BON says. Honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Jean was involved. Why not shoot both?

    I wonder if Dick’s divorce had anything to do with it, maybe he and Jean were having some sort of relationship or something? Ex-wife decides to hire a hit-man??

    Reply

    • Dave

      Make up your mind. Was “Jean” involved or was it the ex wife. You aren’t Sherlock Holmes. Stop making things up and implicating a woman that had nothing to do with it. There’s a lot of evil in the world. There doesn’t always have to be a motive. When Dick confronted the guy, you have no idea what was said. Leave this to the police. There’s a reason why you aren’t a famous detective.

      Reply

  3. lon

    Zodiac, my guess

    Reply

  4. Anonymous

    Zodiac..just my guess.

    Reply

  5. Cathy

    If he had an insurance poilcy, who would gain from it?

    Reply

  6. Heidi

    I think it was a stalker that may have lost money on game after man on team cost them the game that looked like the man killed ..if he looked like this player chance are he was killed because them man lost alot of money on game and took it out on wrong man the ladys lic plate may have made this crazy man think it was the real player ..road rage is part but gamers are so out there on betting all even in bars if this man looked like the real guy maybe so one in the bar or resturant they were at tipped them off i would look into people there with wrong information wrong person

    Reply

  7. Anonymous

    Well, this case has always been strange to me. I don’t think that Jean was involved, I think that she wanted her identity hidden because she’s still scared that the man will come and kill her or something. Or maybe the guy thought that Dick and Jean were someone else, and I was also surprised that Dick’s ex-wife wasn’t interviewed for the story…or any of the rest of Dick’s family for that matter.

    Reply

  8. Anonymous

    Yes, I think you have put your finger on it there Corey. My thoughts were running along somewhat similar lines but I just couldn’t put all the pieces of the jigsaw together. Your suggestion that the story of the psycho-stalker was all made up nailed it for me. I too would be investigating that angle if it was my job to.

    It is kind of reminiscent of a case of alleged ‘road-rage murder’ that happened in Britain, sometime in the early 1990s – around the time that the term, ‘road-rage’, was beginning to gain popular currency. A guy out driving with his girlfriend wound up dead after a violent assault. The girlfriend, in her account, spun a story about an altercation with another motorist that had the media in a frenzy: the First Road Rage Murder ran the headlines. But it later turned out that she made up the whole story. She was the sole assailant/murderer. That is the gist of the story. I can’t remember too many details as it was so long ago, but it happened. Maybe it happened here too.

    Reply

  9. Beccaboo

    Does anyone know the exact street it happened? The area too? I want to look it up on Google maps!

    Reply

  10. P.

    Came across this murder tonight. Never having heard of it before, and reading about it I was very surprised to see how many similarities it has to the Zodiac killer of the late 1960s and early 70s. Even the drawing of the suspect looks similar to those of the Zodiac. I’m not suggesting it is the Zodiac, just has a number of similarities.

    Reply

  11. Mauricio j Peralta

    Let see 1991 I happen to be working at National Semiconductor and Richard Hansen (Dick) happen to be my coworker in the same department. Yeah the news for all of as in that department was defeated. I only wish that in my lifetime I would like to see this case solved. Rest in peace Dick I will remember you forever!

    Reply

  12. JJohnson

    I think the description of the man looks like an aged zodiac has the bullets been matched to another crime what kind of a gun was it in some cases that is what brings the killer to justice. I bring up zodiac because it looks like him some, same state, and zodiac was also never caught.

    Reply

    • D.L.

      I thought so too! I immediately thought “Zodiac?” because the timeline (1991) would imply Zodiac would still be alive (as opposed to 2016 when he is very possibly dead from age) and it’s the same kind of mind games, cat-and-mouse, absolutely random killing in Cali you would imagine Zodiac doing. Zodiac HAD to keep killing somewhere, and he was an expert at never establishing an M.O. so you can’t rule out anything…

      Reply

  13. JWood

    I would think if Jean was the focus at all, the killer’s prime time to act against her would have been when she leaves Dick’s vehicle to get into her own, before the chase began. I wondered what club they were at. I think the 49er angle is a bit of a stretch. It’s late April football season has been over for months I don’t see that as much of a motive…..

    Reply

  14. Tracey

    ‘Jean’ on the ID program was wearing a wig! Not a great disguise, but, could have been!!!! I am with everyone on this, Jean has more knowledge than she is letting on

    Reply

    • Mulder

      Just because the case is strange. Doesn’t mean “Jean” knew more than she is letting on. I would take her story seriously until she gave a reason as to not to. Obviously the police think she is credible. I wanna say a pissed off ex boyfriend. However, I bet she would’ve recognized the car and driver. I wanna say this is an unstable guy. And was looking for a reason to murder someone. A random act if you will.

      Reply

  15. Shii

    If i realize someone is following me, i would call 911. I don’t know why she didn’t do that despite the fact that the alleged killer was changing lanes as she did. Speaking of changing lanes, why didn’t the killer follow Dick’s car if that’s whom he was really interested in? Why didn’t he go to Jean’s car after shooting Dick? After all, its’ jean’s car that he kept following not Dick’s.

    Reply

    • Anonymous

      This happened in 1991 before everyone had a cell phone. Yes, some people had car phones and the old “bag phones”, but even that was very uncommon.

      Reply

  16. B

    Have you guys not watched the “Dates from Hell” on ID channel 522 on Sky? This was just on it and Jean actually spoke on it so revealing her identity was not a problem. Such a shame that it is an unsolved case though, as is any unsolved mystery.

    Reply

  17. Patrick

    Rather than the killer being a crazed/obsessed football fan, maybe he was obsessed with Jean, and he was jealous and thought that Dick Hansen was dating her and that’s why he shot him. When he pointed to Jean’s car when Dick confronted him maybe he was pointing to Jean rather than the “49ers” custom license plate. After all, he was clearly following and stalking Jean while they were driving. This could also be the reason why he didn’t kill Jean and just let her go and drove away. I believe this case has more to do with Jean than it does with a crazed/obsessed or disgruntled football fan.

    Reply

    • Anonymous

      he wasn’t CLEARLY following Jean’s car. She was behind Dick so the killer had to be behind her out of no other option. But i agree, pointing at the license plate is far fetched. From the way this story is told it seems the killer pointed at Jean hence Dick telling her to go away.

      Reply

    • Etna

      This Jean said the killer and she had stared at each other for a few seconds. Very strange!? I am 100% sure she has the answers! I am surprised with the Police work.

      Reply

    • thinkingoutloud

      I agree Patrick!! I think the killer had soemthing to do with Jean but I can’t explain why Dick was shot unless the killer felt he saw too much. Dick even told Jean to get out of there. I think the killer had something to do with Jean…not sure what. I think there is more to it than what Jean provides, maybe she’s scared.

      Since Jean was the onyl witness, i wonder if there was a killer at all. This whole story is confusing. It’s hard to take Jean’s word for it because we only have one side of the story and no other witnesses.

      I find it fishy too that Dick was recently divorced but decided to hang otu with a female friend… i believe men can have girl friends but it’s weird to me he would go out with a woman instead of a man… i think Jean and Dick were involved somehow. Weird we get no word form his ex-wife

      Reply

  18. rose andrews

    the ex wife know something.

    Reply

  19. Todd

    Well where did this take place?

    Reply

  20. johnson

    I couldn’t agree more with Cory myself. Did anyone happen to catch the beginning of this store when it stated “he asked a friend, who we’ll call Jean”? They didn’t even use her real name suggesting she didn’t want to be mentioned. Why not? If it was my friend that was killed, I’d make sure everyone knew I was concerned and do anything I could to help find who did it.. maybe that’s just me I don’t know

    Reply

  21. corey

    Jean has to be involved no matter how you look at the situation.
    if she was target how the guy did not killer her?
    if Dick was the target why did you leave Jean alive as a witness?
    did she set up Dick and have a reason to have him killed?
    and if it was the whole thing of person (fan) who was hater of the team i ask how come she was not killed since the bummer sticker was on her car not Dick’s?
    Ok if the guy was some random killer? why would it matter if they killed 2 people and not a leave person as a witness?
    I ask is Jean the killer herself ??? and make up the whole story of some random killer to throw the police ? NO random person anywhere else even bother to come forward in the neighborhood to say they claimed to say they saw a speeding car ?

    if it was me as a law enforcement person I would been looking at Jean the whole time.
    the whole question is WHY IS JEAN ALIVE ????

    Reply

    • Margret

      I agree completely. It seems as if with the detailed information about the killer, they should’ve been able to find something. Whether jean was lying or not, i am not sure but it seems as if she is holding something back about what happened.
      If she is telling the truth, there is no indication if Dick was surpised at who the killer was. Was it someone he knew? There needs to be a further investigation there.

      Reply

    • linda

      The guy had her license plate number… He could find her anytime he wanted so why hide her identity? I agree. She is hiding something…

      Reply

  22. Jon Bon

    There is something about this case that keeps gnawing at me since I saw it first a few days ago on Unsolved Mysteries. I think that there is an alternative scenario what is worth conjecture. It is possible, of course, that it was simply the act of loser-psycho who just snapped, but had enough presence of mind to realise what he had done and decided it would be best to beat it. However, what if he was stalking Dick all along and not Jean? I think it is worth considering. Did Dick have any enemies? The stalker could have been a hit man. By menacing ‘his woman’ (whether or not Dick and Jean were romantically involved is not the issue here – it would have appeared so to the stalker), he was trying to draw Dick out. He was setting it up to get his target where he wanted him. Of course, if that were the scenario, it is unlikely that he would have just left Jean alive on the scene.

    Reply

  23. John Bon

    One wonders too why the gunman just ‘sped off’ after the shooting, leaving an eyewitness on the scene? It was Jean after all whom he was stalking, or at least that is the way it appears. Surely he still had ‘business’ to conclude with her – whatever that was.

    Reply

  24. John Bon

    Has the car ever been traced? Did Jean have the presence of mind to make a note of the stalker’s number plate?

    Reply