How Many Victims Did Alaska Serial Killer Gary Zieger Murder?

Robin Barefield
11 min readDec 15, 2019

Gary Zieger, a brutal serial killer, stalked the streets of Anchorage in the early 1970s. We’ll never know how many people Zieger killed, but eventually, the psychopath made a fatal mistake.

During the period when serial killer Robert Hansen terrorized Anchorage and Southcentral Alaska, another brutal murderer roamed the same area. While Hansen selected and hunted his prey, Gary Zieger used women and men for his satisfaction and then simply discarded them. Zieger seemed unwilling or unable to control himself and was sure to self-destruct.

McHugh State Park

When two hikers discovered the body of Celia Beth Van Zanten at McHugh Creek State Park south of Anchorage, they knew she had suffered a horrible death. Someone had gagged her and tied her hands behind her back with speaker wire; her body was naked below the waist. The pathologist later determined Beth had been raped and her chest slashed with a knife. She was still alive when she was either thrown or fell into a ravine. She apparently tried to climb out of the steep-walled crevice, but with her hands tied behind her back, she had no way to pull herself up the cliff, and she repeatedly fell until she froze to death in the frigid December weather.

Investigators discovered tire tracks turning lazy circles in the parking lot of the campground, and they deduced Beth escaped her attacker, ran down the steep slope, and probably fell into the ravine. Her abductor circled the parking lot waiting for her to reappear, but when she never did, he finally left.

Beth disappeared on December 23, 1971, while walking from her house to a local convenience store. What happened during her short walk down the street?

Soon after the hikers discovered Beth Van Zanten’s body on Christmas day, 18-year-old Sandra Patterson, the daughter of an Alaska State Trooper, came forward to report her abduction on December 19th. Sandra worked as a prostitute to support her heroin addiction. She was working in the parking lot of the Nevada Club in Anchorage when a man pointed a gun at her and told her he would kill her if she didn’t do what he wanted. She…



Robin Barefield

I am an Alaska wilderness mystery author and a podcaster: Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier.