Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Illicit List: Crime and Craigslist

Minnesota Murder, No Mystery

Katherine Ann Olson
Katherine Ann Olson

Katherine Olson was murdered in October 2007. She had graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., the year before, and she was looking for work as a nanny near Minneapolis. The 24-year-old had used Craigslist to find jobs before, once even securing a position as a nanny in Turkey. She turned to the site again, but things turned deadly.

Friends describe Olson as energetic and bubbly. The daughter of Lutheran pastor Rolf Olson and his wife Nancy, she enjoyed a warm, tight-knit family and a supportive church network. She was co-valedictorian of Park-Cottage Grove High School's class of 2002. She liked theatre and travel, and was especially interested in Latin America. Her family would establish a scholarship fund for Latino students in her memory. The autumn she died, she was taking a class at the University of Minnesota to become a translator.

Michael Anderson, 19, lived with his parents after dropping out of Cedar Alternative High School in nearby Eagan. His father, Steven Anderson, had been laid off as a Northwest Airlines mechanic and works as a truck driver. The youngest of three children, Michael Anderson worked at a few auto parts warehouses, and then found a night-shift job refueling planes at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Off-hours, he enjoyed paintball, archery, rebuilding engines, and designing go-karts.

Anderson had never really dated.

He used his AOL account to respond to Craigslist ads searching for a "Casual Encounter." He invited one woman for dinner and conversation, but she never responded. That week he posted an ad for a fake job on Craigslist. Pretending to be a woman named Amy, looking for a babysitter, he lured Olson to his Savage, Minn., home.

By email, he hired her supposedly to watch a child from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Olson told her roommate that "Amy" seemed strange. Little did she know.

 

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