The Justice Files: A family ripped apart following double murder

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Linda Yarrow wanted the man who killed her sister and niece executed.

But Fred Hansen’s life was spared when the parents of Joanne Hansen forgave him. In 1995 Hansen, a former Logan police officer, murdered his wife and step-daughter at their home in Weber County.  

“(My parents) didn’t want him put to death because of their children,” said Linda Yarrow.  

Instead, Hansen was sentenced to life in prison with a chance of parole. 

In 1995, Hansen murdered Joanne Hansen, an Ogden City police dispatcher.  During the argument, Jovanna Hansen, a step-daughter, attempted to intervene and was shot to death.  Publicly, Hansen has refused to explain why he murdered them.

At a 1999 parole hearing Hansen again was offered a chance to explain what happened but couldn’t offer any reason why he committed a double murder.

 “I don’t know what happened,” Hansen told his hearing officer.  “We had a good family.  We had pretty good lives,” and then things fell apart.

Linda Yarrow, the victim’s sister knew a divorce was pending.  She said allegations of sex abuse was creating a rift among the family.

“They had trouble,” she said.  “My sister wanted to leave but the kids voted to stay.”

Last year, Hansen was given a parole date of February 2020 but family members intervened, objecting to his release.

Following a hearing the board of pardons rescinded Hansen’s parole date.  In their official website the following was posted: “Mr. Hansen may not be ready for release.”  

The board based its decision because Hansen did not show signs of accepting responsibility and failure to obtain programing and assessments at the prison.

Last week, the Board of Pardons again reviewed Hansen’s progress. But once again, Hansen appeared to avoid reasons behind the murder.

The following is an exchange between Hansen and the hearing officer:

Hearing officer:  “You understand the general concern of fault is that you inexplicably killed two people and they …” 
Fred Hansen:  “I understand the gravity, yes sir.”

The hearing officer continued asking Hansen to explain his reasoning.  He offered this explanation.

Hansen:  “It was explained to me sir by the first psychologist that I seen,  he said it was something that happens called a dissociative state of mind because of extreme stressors.”

Hansen said he will continue seeking counseling at the prison but cancer is prohibiting him from attending activities at the prison.  He said he had no job prospects and had no relationships with his family.


Joanne Hansen’s sister confirmed the children no longer considered him their dad.

“They don’t want anything to do with him,” she said.  “The daughters are very angry and his son who is very quiet, keeps to himself.”

Hansen did face capitol murder for the double homicide.  But he accepted a plea bargain after the victim’s parents forgave him. But Yarrow said she can’t and won’t forgive him.

“I don’t think he deserves to be free at all,” Yarrow said.   “And he should have been executed in my opinion.”

Another of Joanne Hansen’s sister also opposes his release.  Janice Woods said it is not about revenge.

“It is about protecting others,” wrote Woods in an email to ABC4.  “Fred is a sexual predator who gets in relationships with women who have young daughters/granddaughters who he can sexually abuse.”

But there were never any police reports made about those allegations and Fred Hansen never was charged with any crime related to this.  Woods acknowledges that but still doesn’t want else hurt.

“He was not charged with those crimes but they happened and we don’t want him to get released and hurt anyone else,” said Woods.

Back in 1995, an unnamed police dispatcher told ABC4 that Hansen’s death affected everyone at the workplace.

“It affects us like family,” said the dispatcher.  “You don’t work with someone side by side for 5-to-10 years and get over it in a day.”

And it also affected Dawn Shumway in a different way.  Joanne Hansen was her mother.  She still won’t associate with her father.  Shumway said a letter from him in 2003 set the tone for their breakup.

In a letter to the girls, Hansen wrote: “I am very, very surprised that nobody, but nobody has ever asked any follow up questions about what happened. Nothing about the year leading up year leading up to this tragedy, the years of our marriage and our family period.  What happened with the investigation the charges, the jailing, the lying, the cover up.”

Hansen made himself to be the victim. Shumway said her father never accepted responsibility back then and even now.  Shumway has gone on record with the board of pardons opposing his release.

“I am still heartbroken over my family’s loss,” Shumway said in a text to ABC4.

But she honored her mother by following in her footsteps.  For the past 15 years she has been a police dispatcher, just like her mother.

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