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Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - His sister discovered he stole $140,000 from their parents
Number of victims: 4
Date of murder: September 28, 2005
Date of arrest: 2 days after
Date of birth: November 22, 1976
Victims profile: His parents Terrance and Mary Hanson, his sister, Kate Hanson-Tsao, and her husband, Jimmy Tsao
Method of murder: Pummeled with an unknown pipe-like object / Shooting
Location: DuPage County, Illinois, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on February 27, 2008

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Eric Hanson Sentenced to Death for Killing his Family

Eric Hanson has been sentenced to death for killing his sister, parents and brother-in-law. His surviving sister testified against him during his recently concluded trial, and yesterday a jury took only 90 minutes to return its verdict in favor of execution.

Hanson was convicted of beating his sister and brother-in-law to death in their Aurora home after his sister discovered he stole $140,000 from their parents. He then drove to his parents' home in Naperville where he shot both of them, and then took their bodies to the Aurora house. Then he got on a plane and flew to LA, where he went to a Neil Diamond concert.

Hey wait a second...don't we have a moratorium on the death penalty in our state? Why yes. We do. So even though Hanson (and 13 other people since 2003) has been sentenced to the death, it's unlikely he'll be executed. Prosecutors for this case called the moratorium a "charade," but Blagojevich isn't about to lift the ban.


Naperville man guilty of killing 4

By Art Barnum and Ted Gregory - Chicago Tribune

February 21, 2008

A DuPage County jury needed only about three hours Wednesday to convict Eric C. Hanson of murdering his parents, sister and brother-in-law in 2005 after they discovered he had defrauded his mother and father of $140,000.

Hanson, 31, a self-employed mortgage broker of Naperville, was expressionless when Judge Robert Anderson announced the jury's verdict shortly before 9 p.m. He faces a possible death sentence for bludgeoning to death his sister, Kate Hanson-Tsao, and her husband, Jimmy Tsao, then shooting to death his parents, Terrance and Mary Hanson, as they slept in their Naperville home.

As the jury was polled, Eric Hanson stared at each member as he or she affirmed his conviction on charges of murder, robbery, aggravated kidnapping and identity theft.

Jennifer Williams, Eric Hanson's surviving sister, began to weep quietly as the verdict was announced. Later, outside the courtroom, the tears flowed freely as she hugged prosecutors and about 10 of her friends and family members who had been with her throughout the trial.

She would not comment on the verdict, saying she wanted to wait until the jury determines the sentence.

Jurors will begin that process at 10 a.m. Thursday. They will decide whether Eric Hanson is legally eligible for the death penalty and, if so, they then will determine if he should be sentenced to death.

Williams has said her brother should not be sentenced to death, which could give jurors pause. Also complicating the decision is a moratorium on executions issued by Gov. George Ryan in 2000 and continued by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Hanson committed the murders on Sept. 28, 2005, after Hanson-Tsao discovered her brother's identity theft and fraud against their parents the month before. Williams testified he had threatened to kill Hanson-Tsao if she told their father about the fraud.

During closing arguments Wednesday, Hanson's attorney argued that he could not have killed four people and cleared his parents' home of evidence by himself.

"The police put on blinders and never looked anywhere but Eric," DuPage County Public Defender Robert Miller told jurors. "The state didn't do a good job of excluding other possibilities."

But Assistant State's Atty. Robert Berlin asked jurors, "Who else would have a motive to clean up the house where he lived and make it look like he wasn't involved? His many lies are the shifting sands of a guilty mind."

Miller called the prosecution's case "a bunch of maybes. The state gets emotional and does finger-pointing, but Eric doesn't have to prove his innocence under the law."

In five hours of testimony Friday, Hanson denied the murders but conceded he stole about $40,000 from his parents. Hanson testified that he arrived at the Naperville home he shared with his parents at about 11 p.m. on Sept. 28, watched a DVD in his basement bedroom, then went to sleep.

Hanson awoke the next morning about 7 and left for the airport for a trip to California, he testified, never hearing the gunshots that killed his parents the night before.

But prosecutors contended that Hanson savagely beat the Tsaos in their Aurora home, then drove to his parents' Naperville house and shot them while they slept at about 11 p.m. Hanson then cleared the Naperville home of obvious signs of a crime, transferred his parents' bodies to the Tsaos' house and left on Sept. 29 to catch a flight to Los Angeles, where he attended a concert with his ex-fiance.

Hanson returned Sept. 30 although he told authorities in cell phone conversations that he was still in Los Angeles. A Wisconsin state trooper stopped Hanson near Portage, Wis., on Sept. 30 after investigators tracked his cell phone to the area.

At trial, prosecutors presented evidence that blood on gloves found in his Chevrolet TrailBlazer matched that of his parents.

Authorities also recovered Kate Hanson-Tsao's diamond wedding ring and Jimmy Tsao's diamond-encrusted Rolex watch from the SUV and discovered blood on them from the sister and her husband.


Forensic pathologist details Aurora couple's final moments of life

February 9, 2008 - Daily Herald

By Christy Gutowski

In her final moments, Katherine "Kate" Hanson-Tsao fought to live.

But she was unable to thwart her attacker, whose merciless blows left the 31-year-old Aurora woman with catastrophic injuries.

In a nearby room, her husband, Jimmy Tsao, 34, never saw it coming. He likely was struck from behind.

The heart-wrenching testimony came Friday as a forensic pathologist who conducted the couple's autopsies told jurors in explicit detail how they died.

His findings capped off an emotional week in a DuPage County court saturated with crime scene photos and graphic testimony.

Eric C. Hanson may face the death penalty if convicted of killing his parents, sister and brother-in-law in late September 2005 after stealing $80,000 from his folks in an elaborate credit card scheme.

Hanson, 31, is expected to testify that his parents were letting him pay them back, thus he lacked a financial motive to kill. Prosecutors, though, presented evidence Hanson continued the scam, even after his sister and mother confronted him, to keep up his lavish lifestyle.

On Friday, forensic pathologist Scott Denton testified Kate and Jimmy Tsao died from catastrophic skull and brain injuries after being pummeled with an unknown pipe-like object.

Tsao did not have defensive wounds. The killer repeatedly beat him on his head and face while he sat on a love seat watching television and playing a game on his laptop computer.

But Kate put up a fight to live. She suffered horrific face and head injuries, defensive wounds and massive blood loss. Her older sister, Jennifer Williams, left the courtroom before Denton began detailing each injury. A stoic Eric Hanson listened, but declined to review autopsy photos of his slain sister.

Authorities allege he attacked his sister and brother-in-law, then hours later, fatally shot his parents, Terry and Mary Hanson, as they slept in their Naperville home, where Eric also lived. Police did not find signs of forced entry to either home; valuables weren't touched.

The Hansons' bodies were moved to the Tsao home in Aurora, and someone cleaned up evidence of the shooting to try to conceal the second crime scene. Its existence is crucial because, if true, that means Eric Hanson was home when his parents were killed but, as he will testify, didn't hear anything.

Prosecutors presented about 40 witnesses and 350 pieces of physical evidence, including many graphic photos. They lack a confession and the murder weapons. Instead, they are focusing on the financial motive, timeline and other evidence. They said a rubber glove with his father's blood was in Hanson's SUV, along with Jimmy's Rolex watch and Kate's $24,000 wedding ring.

John Collins, the DuPage County sheriff's crime lab director, testified Friday that the two bullets in the victims' bodies were identical to a third fired bullet found in the Hansons' attic space near the bed where they were shot.

Collins also told jurors other physical evidence, such as the plastic baggie that held the rubber glove, is similar to those found in the Naperville house.


Murder trial to begin for man accused of killing 4 family members

WHEATON, Ill. - Kate Hanson-Tsao told her sister she had caught their brother stealing money from their parents, and she threatened him with telling their father. But Eric Hanson allegedly had a threat of his own.

"If you tell Dad, I will kill you," is how Jennifer Williams, speaking in a pretrial hearing, remembered her sister Kate's recollection of the conversation.

Now Eric Hanson, 31, is set to go to trial in DuPage County on first-degree murder charges.

In order to cover up stealing more than $80,000 through forged checks and credit cards, prosecutors allege he beat his sister Kate and her husband Jimmy Tsao to death in their Chicago suburban home. They say he then fatally shot his father Terrance Hanson in the back of the head and his mother Mary Hanson in the face as the couple slept in their bed 5 miles away.

The four bodies were discovered in the Tsaos' two-story brick Aurora home on Sept. 29, 2005, about six weeks after the alleged threat.

As detectives combed the scenes for clues, there were only questions - and fear - in this quiet community that suddenly was home for a small army of news crews. Those questions only multiplied with reports that authorities had launched a manhunt for a suspect they'd only say had hopped on a flight to somewhere in the United States.

When Eric Hanson was arrested in Wisconsin a day later, police said he was on his way to Minnesota - where Williams, his last surviving immediate family member, lived.

Authorities suspect he planned to at least confront his last surviving sibling because she knew of his financial wrongdoing.

Hanson, who lived in his parents' basement in Naperville, also faces charges of identity theft, mail fraud, armed robbery and home invasion. Jury selection began Jan. 15; once the 12 jurors and four alternates are selected, the trial could start as soon as this week and last about a month.

Hanson has pleaded not guilty and maintains his innocence.

Hanson's attorney, public defender Robert Miller, has argued that authorities lack any murder weapons, a confession or eyewitness to the killings. He's also said Hanson simply didn't have enough time to commit the crimes - by 11 a.m. on Sept. 29, 2005, Hanson had boarded a plane to visit an ex-fiance in Los Angeles.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune in October 2005, Hanson maintained that he never threatened his sister and never stole any money from his family. A self-employed mortgage broker before his arrest, Hanson said he had "zero money problems" and was upset to be considered a suspect in the brutal killings.

"I'm just shocked that anyone would think that," Hanson said. "... I loved my family."

Yet documents filed in court in preparation for the trial indicate Hanson was a constant source of family strife.

After the slayings, an uncle told police he'd once caught a teenage Hanson watching a videotape of animals being tortured and killed, and a family friend told authorities Hanson had forcibly held his daughter's head under water. Another family friend told police Hanson had threatened his sister Kate as a teen and was sent to reform school.

In 1995, Hanson pleaded guilty to a series of home invasions in Oakland County, Mich., north of Detroit.

He was allowed to serve his time in a five-month boot camp program for first-time offenders. But when Hanson broke terms of his probation in 1997, a judge sentenced him to 18 months in a Michigan prison.

After his release, Hanson pleaded guilty in 1999 in Illinois to retail theft at a DuPage County department store and aggravated battery involving the merchant, officials said. He was sentenced to 30 months probation and 180 days in jail.

An ex-girlfriend told police of "interventions" the Hanson family would have when they believed Eric was caught lying or treating his relatives poorly. Tsao's brother and business partner in a computer venture said Hanson had been banned from the Tsao house because Jimmy Tsao thought he was stealing money and valuables from the couple.

Jennifer Williams told police that while her family appeared "picture perfect" to outsiders, the brother she labeled a "con man" counted on his parents to pay his bills and knew they would bail him out.

Her mother, Williams said, was especially concerned with protecting the family's image.

But family members told police they believe Mary Hanson had discovered her son's alleged scams when she had trouble using one of her credit cards.

Police allege Hanson killed his 31-year-old sister and her 34-year-old husband late in the evening of Sept. 28, 2005, in their Aurora home.

They suspect he then went back to his Naperville home and shot his 55-year-old mother and 57-year-old father in bed, wrapped their bodies in drop cloths and moved them to his sister's home in Aurora.

After Illinois police discovered the gruesome scene in the Tsao's Aurora home, authorities said police had arranged to meet Hanson in Los Angeles at the airport for his trip back to Illinois. But Hanson boarded an earlier flight.

He was stopped near Portage, Wis., on Sept. 30, 2005, more than 200 miles from Jennifer Williams' home. Prosecutors said police found Jimmy Tsao's Rolex watch and Kate Hanson-Tsao's diamond wedding ring in Hanson's SUV, along with a glove that had traces of his father's blood.

Jennifer Williams' testimony is expected to be crucial to the prosecution's case. After a court battle, Judge Robert Anderson ruled that her recollection of the alleged threat from Eric Hanson that Kate told her about before her death could be admitted as evidence.

Hanson's defense attorney argued that Hanson's right to confront a witness would be denied.

Another court battle developed over videotaped statements Hanson gave to law enforcement officials in Wisconsin. The defense wanted to show the jury only excerpts in which he denied killing his family. But prosecutors said that would be unfair, since Hanson at some times, according to their court motions, "remained silent or cried with his head down at other times during the questioning."

Anderson ruled the jury can see the videotapes, in full, if the prosecution decides to use them as evidence. In one portion shown in court, Hanson is asked by police why his family was killed.

"I don't know why," he said calmly.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.



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