TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — When Robert Hansen’s father died, it was his uncle, Albert Seaburg, who stepped in as a father figure for him and his and four siblings.
“He took us to Disneyland and other trips to Colorado to take our minds off what happened,” Hansen told the Democrat. “He was our father figure.”
Seaburg, a World War ll veteran who as a “big-shot” engineer had a key role in the design of Illinois’ first nuclear reactor, never had kids of his own and lived most of his life in West Chicago, where he cared for his sister’s fatherless children.
“Uncle Al, he would always be wisecracking,” Hansen said. “And even though he was a big shot, he was so down to Earth.”
On Sept. 4, 1997, Seaburg drove from Chicago to Tallahassee to settle his aunt’s estate.
He booked a night at the Best Inn motel on North Monroe Street at around 9 p.m.
Within hours, the 71-year-old was found with two fatal gunshot wounds in what investigators called a botched robbery.
Two suspects, described by witnesses as blond twenty-somethings with shoulder-length hair, were seen “casing” the motel throughout the day, according to Tallahassee Democrat archives. They left in a mid-’80s white Honda Accord with Mississippi tags.
Soon after the shooting, composite sketches of the suspects were drawn up from witness accounts.
However, in the 25 years since Seaburg’s murder, the case has grown cold. No arrests have been made, and there are no new leads.
However, LCSO has hired a part-time detective dedicated to cases like this.
“While we don’t have any updates to report currently on Mr. Seaburg’s case, this is a first step in seeking justice for his murder and for other families impacted by these unsolved crimes,” said LCSO spokesperson Angela Green.
“We’re hopeful there is someone out there who has information about what happened that day. With the community’s support, we hope new information will come to light and assist us in the investigation.”
She added that anonymous tipsters who call 850-606-3300 may be eligible for cash rewards of $500 to $5,000 dollars if their information leads to an arrest connected to the cold case.
Hansen created unsolvedmurder.com in 1999 to attract attention to the case in the hopes to jog something loose, but nothing’s come of it.
“We go on with our daily lives and we don’t really get emotional about it until we talk about it, like I am now,” Hansen, 62, said through tears Thursday. “My mom, Ruth Hansen — his only sibling — passed away in 2009, unfortunately, before the case was solved.”
On the day of his uncle’s death, Hansen, who was 36, was at work at the post office when he got a call from an Elmhurst police officer, who relayed what he just heard from an LCSO deputy.
“The postmaster came and got me,” Hansen said. “I was told and I basically collapsed on the floor and screamed because it was so hard to believe.”
Hansen mailed out at least two thousand wanted posters to convenience stores and police stations in addition to contacting politicians who said they would try and bring attention to it.
He said he still emails LCSO once in a while, hoping for a chance confession or a discovery through DNA analysis.
“Now it’s just waiting and hoping after so many years,” he said. “I’m still hopeful.”