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Michael John ANDERSON

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "Craigslist Killer"
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Convicted of murdering a woman he had lured to his home with an online baby-sitting ad
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: October 25, 2007
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: October 16, 1988
Victim profile: Katherine Anne Olson, 24
Method of murder: Shooting (.357 Magnum handgun)
Location: Savage, Scott County, Minnesota, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on April 1, 2009
 
 
 
 
 
 

Complaint

 
 
 
 
 
 

Michael John Anderson is an American, formerly a resident of Savage, Minnesota, who in 2009 was convicted of having murdered Katherine Ann Olson in October 2007.

Because Anderson met Olson through Craigslist, a popular classified advertising website, the media dubbed him a Craigslist Killer, a generic term for murderers who find victims by placing or responding to ads in Craigslist. Anderson was the first killer given this title in news accounts.

The crime

Michael John Anderson, age 19, murdered Katherine Anne Olson, a 24-year-old theater and Hispanic studies graduate of St. Olaf College and temporary nanny, on October 25, 2007, in a Minneapolis, Minnesota suburb after seeing an ad for her services as a nanny on Craigslist.

The prosecution charged that Anderson created and posted a fake advertisement on Craigslist "in order to lure a woman to his home so he might experience what it felt like to kill."

Posing as a married woman named "Amy" who was looking for nanny services, Anderson exchanged emails with Olson. When she arrived at his parents' house for an interview, he shot her in the back with a .357 Magnum and put her body into the trunk of her car. He then drove to Burnsville Nature Preserve, where he abandoned it.

The car with Olson's body in it was discovered on October 26, 2007.

Conviction

Anderson, who was the first murderer referred to by the media as a "Craigslist Killer", was found guilty of first degree murder and received a life sentence without parole on April 1, 2009.

Alan Margoles, the lead attorney arguing in Anderson's defense, stated that the killing of Olson was "accidental" and that he plans an appeal because during the trial he had not been allowed to present evidence that Anderson has Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. Prosecutors have an equal number of psychologists who reject the conclusion of Asperger syndrome.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

'Craigslist killer' Michael John Anderson gets life in murder of Katherine Olson

By The Associated Press - NYDailyNews.com

Friday, April 3, 2009

SHAKOPEE, Minn. A man convicted of murdering a woman he had lured to his home with an online baby-sitting ad was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole Wednesday.

The sentence was mandatory for 20-year-old Michael John Anderson, who was convicted Tuesday of first-degree premeditated murder and other charges in the October 2007 shooting death of Katherine Ann Olson, 24.

"Mr. Anderson is not just a murderer he's a thief of the future of our family's joy," said the Rev. Rolf Olson. "He needs to be prevented from inflicting evil on anybody else's life ever again."

The Lutheran pastor said he believes God will help him to forgive Anderson, but "in this situation, I don't sense that there is any hurry."

Prosecutors said during the weeklong trial that Anderson, of Savage, ran a phony ad on the Craigslist classified-ad Web site in order to lure a woman to his home so he might experience what it felt like to kill.

The defense argued that the shooting was accidental. Anderson's lead attorney, Alan Margoles, said he plans an appeal because he wasn't allowed to present evidence that Anderson has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism.

Anderson declined to comment during or after the sentencing. Margoles conveyed on Anderson's behalf his "deepest regrets for his actions."

"Why did you do this? You are the only one who knows and I won't pretend to understand it," Scott County District Judge Mary Theisen said from the bench. She added that Anderson was a "coward" when he shot Olson who Theisen believed was "running for her life."

"You have shown no remorse and I have no empathy for you," Theisen said before handing down the life sentence. She also ordered Anderson to pay restitution of $6,500 from his prison wages to reimburse Olson's family for her funeral expenses.

Sarah Richter, Olson's older sister, said her sleep is interrupted nightly by horrible images from the murder.

"I'm haunted by Anderson's face, by Katherine's screams, the gun, her body in the trunk and now, the real bloody images of my sister," she said. "When will I sleep again?"

 
 

Police know how, can't explain why

By Jim Adams, Chao Xiong and Curt Brown - StarTribune.com

October 31, 2007

Authorities say Michael Anderson lured Katherine Ann Olson to his family's split-level house in Savage, somehow got her upstairs to his bedroom, where he shot her in the back with a .357 handgun, dragged her downstairs and tied her ankles in red twine.

Despite an uneasy feeling in her gut about the person she was about to meet, Katherine Ann Olson showed up for her new baby-sitting job at a dilapidated house in Savage.

She was there to watch a child between 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday after being hired by "Amy" through an ad posted on the popular Craigslist website. Before heading out, she mentioned to her roommate that her new employer "seemed kind of strange."

She placed her last cell phone call to Amy's phone just before 9 a.m. A short time later, authorities say, she was met at the house by 19-year-old Michael John Anderson, a paintball fanatic who dropped out of an alternative high school and was shy around women.

Authorities say Anderson lured Olson, 24, to his family's split-level house, somehow got her upstairs to his bedroom, where he shot her in the back with a .357 handgun, dragged her downstairs and tied her ankles in red twine.

The new details in the Craigslist killing emerged Tuesday as Anderson was charged in Scott County District Court with second-degree intentional murder. At one point, he told police that another person had killed her and that a friend "thought it would be funny."

Authorities, however, say that evidence points to Anderson acting alone.

They say he stuffed Olson's body in a sleeping bag in her trunk and drove five blocks away before ditching the car at Kraemer Nature Preserve in Burnsville.

He wrapped her crushed cell phone in a blood-smeared towel -- that had his name written on it with a black marker -- and stuffed it in nearby trash can, authorities said.

His motive bewildered authorities and Anderson's friends. After first denying the cell phone contact with Olson, Anderson later told police he witnessed another person kill her.

A friend "thought it would be funny," he told police, according to the complaint.

Authorities said there was no sign of a sexual assault. They found the handgun and a shell casing in his blood-spattered bedroom. A trail of Olson's blood showed her body had been dragged down the stairs. The steps had been cleaned but not the risers, according to authorities, who declined to speculate on a motive.

"The only person who knows that right now is the defendant," Scott County Attorney Patrick Ciliberto said. "There is certainly no sense in her death. She was a talented, bright young woman and her life is gone and there's no explanation for it."

At Olson's visitation on Tuesday at Richfield Lutheran Church, her mother, Nancy Olson, flashed a bright smile as she stood by her daughter's casket and watched a video of her daughter portraying Maria in a church community theater's production of "The Sound of Music."

Neither of Olson's parents talked about the case Tuesday, choosing instead to celebrate their daughter's life as shown through dozens of photographs. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. today in Edina for Olson, a St. Olaf College graduate whose family described her as "a joy."

In an earlier e-mailed statement, her father, the Rev. Rolf Olson, a pastor at Richfield Lutheran Church, said that Katherine "believed in the essential goodness of humanity, sometimes naively so."

On Facebook.com, a social networking site, more than 1,200 people had signed up to pay respects.

Bail set at $1 million

Anderson, handcuffed and gazing blankly from beneath black bangs, was held on $1 million bail. He could face first-degree murder charges once a grand jury is convened.

It's believed to be the first homicide connected to Craigslist, where people trade merchandise and hunt for jobs.

A warning appeared on the site Tuesday in the section of "Education" jobs, which includes a number of ads seeking nannies and baby-sitters. Under the heading, "Warning -- for those who don't watch the news," the ad read: "Someone who answered a Craigslist ad for a nanny job ended up dead. Be careful out there."

A Craigslist veteran

Tony Dotson, 19, is one of Anderson's closest friends and a former neighbor. He recalled how Anderson introduced him to Craiglist about a year ago when the pair went to Minnetonka to get a motor for a go-cart they were building.

"I'm still so confused on why," Dotson said. "I don't even know what I'd say to him. I'm just blank."

Anderson loved rebuilding engines, shooting paintballs and archery arrows at targets in a nearby park, according to Dotson and Jake Von Bank, another longtime friend and neighbor. They'd often hold Halo parties, hooking up TVs and playing video games.

They insist Anderson was never violent and seldom showed interest in women.

"He would never raise a fist to anybody," Dotson said. "He was always shy around girls. That's what baffles me."

Anderson studied auto mechanics, according to his friends, but dropped out last fall from Cedar Alternative High School in Eagan. After working in auto parts warehouses, he landed a jet-fueling job at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport a few months ago.

He was working nights at the airport, where police arrested him Friday.

He lived at his family's two-story home with his parents. His father drives a truck after being laid off as a Northwest Airlines mechanic. Michael is the youngest of Steven and Barbara Anderson's three children.

His parents attended Tuesday's brief bail hearing, held in a glassed-in jail courtroom in Shakopee.

"Let's all let the judicial process take its course," said defense attorney Robert M. Speeter.

Dotson and Von Bank said the last time they saw Anderson, in September, they noticed he had cut his longtime mullet haircut. They'd often tease him about his hair and the turquoise color of his house, which they called "Aquafresh toothpaste." Anderson always chuckled at the playful ribbing.

"He said he had to get back into the routine of sleeping" after working nights at the airport, Dotson said. "He seemed fine. Just fine. This whole thing gets you thinking hard. It's like a bad dream."

 
 

Teen charged in death of Minn. woman who answered Craigslist ad

By Amy Forliti - Associated Press

October 30, 2007

Minneapolis (AP) - A woman who responded to an online request for a babysitter told her roommate that the person who placed the ad "seemed kind of strange."

Katherine Ann Olson went anyway, thinking she would be meeting a woman named Amy, or a couple. Instead, authorities say, she was lured to the home of her killer, who shot her in the back before stuffing her in the trunk of her car.

On Tuesday, prosecutors charged Michael John Anderson, 19, of Savage, with second-degree murder. Their evidence: blood spatters in the suburban home he shared with his parents, a gun in his bedroom and drag marks on the stairway.

Olson's body was found Friday in the trunk of her car, which was abandoned in a park about five blocks from Anderson's house. Her ankles were bound with red twine, according to the criminal complaint filed in Scott County.

Her purse, her smashed cell phone, and bloody towels - one of which bore Anderson's name - were found in a garbage can nearby.

"The life of a bright, promising young woman has been taken for absolutely no reason," said Scott County Attorney Pat Ciliberto. "The evidence is that this woman was lured to the defendant's house and was shot."

Ciliberto said the evidence indicates Olson and Anderson did not know each other. He also said there was no evidence of sexual assault.

Attorneys for Anderson had no comment on the charge.

"I think in a case like this, we'll just let the judicial process take its course," said Robert M. Speeter, a defense attorney.

According to the criminal complaint, Olson, 24, went to Anderson's home Thursday for a baby-sitting job she had seen advertised on Craigslist, a popular Internet bulletin board. Olson had taken nanny jobs at least twice before, including a job in Turkey, after answering online ads.

This ad was posted by someone claiming to be "Amy." Olson's roommate, Matt Thiede, told police that Olson had talked with "Amy" and commented that "the woman seemed kind of strange."

Olson and "Amy" exchanged e-mails, and in one message, "Amy" asked Olson to baby-sit a child between 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Thursday.

The address and phone number provided to Olson matched Anderson's address and cell phone number, authorities said.

Ciliberto said it appears Olson thought she was responding to a woman or a couple in need of babysitting. The evidence, he said, shows that the e-mail account with the name Amy was "one and the same with Michael John Anderson."

Olson was last seen Thursday morning at her apartment, but she never returned.

Authorities began investigating Friday morning after Olson's purse was found in a garbage can in Savage.

Their investigation led them to the house where Anderson lives with his parents. Police found blood spatters in several locations at the home, including on the stairs.

In Anderson's bedroom, authorities found a gun and shell casing, as well as blood on the walls and on the mattress, the criminal complaint said.

A neighbor saw Olson's car sitting in front of Anderson's house for more than two hours Thursday, the complaint said.

Anderson was arrested at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where he fuels planes. He has been in the Scott County Jail since his arrest late Friday. His bail was set at $1 million.

Anderson first told police he had nothing to do with the murder, and denied having phone contact with Olson. But cell phone records indicated Olson called Anderson Thursday morning, the court documents said.

He also said he hadn't used Craigslist since January, though the e-mail address in the ad matched his address. He told police his mother and three friends had access to the account.

When confronted with the evidence, Anderson changed his story, according to the complaint; he said he was present during Olson's slaying but the killing was committed by a friend who "thought it would be funny."

Olson was a 2002 graduate of Park High School in Cottage Grove, where she was co-valedictorian. She graduated from St. Olaf College in 2006.

Her family posted a letter on Facebook, saying that Olson had used Craigslist in the past to find "kindred spirits and opportunities."

The family letter also said Olson loved children, and was involved in the church choir, a women's group and numerous outreach activities.

Susan MacTavish Best, a spokeswoman for Craigslist, said Olson's slaying is the first the company has seen in its 12-year history.

She said it's important for people to be cautious "whether you're responding to an ad in your local weekly newspaper, your gym notice board or on an online bulletin board."

MacTavish Best said Craigslist doesn't monitor each individual listing or user, but is self-monitored by its community. Users can log complaints or flag suspicious postings, and Craigslist staff can block users from the site if terms of use are violated.

"Random acts of violence such as this cannot necessarily be known from what appears to be an honest ad," she said in an e-mail.

Still, there is a risk. In California, a 19-year-old college student went missing in June after she met a convicted sex offender on Craigslist.

In Philadelphia, a man was accused of raping seven women, six of whom he met on the dating site Match.com. He was convicted this summer of two counts of sexual assault but acquitted of other rapes.

 
 

Online nanny ad ends in slaying

By Chris Havens and James Walsh - StarTribune.com

October 28, 2007

A St. Olaf grad went to meet someone in Savage about a job she saw posted on Craigslist. Her body was found in her car trunk.

Katherine Ann Olson had answered online ads for nanny jobs before without trouble. But one posted on the popular Craigslist.org website for a job in Savage may have cost the young woman her life.

Olson, 24, was found dead in the trunk of her car at a Burnsville park late Friday night. She was last seen by friends on Thursday morning, when she went to meet someone in Savage about the job, which authorities said she had found on Craigslist.

A 19-year-old Savage man who police believe placed the ad is being held in the Scott County jail pending charges. Authorities did not release his name but said charges could be filed as soon as today.

Olson graduated from Park High School of Cottage Grove in 2002, where she was co-valedictorian, and from St. Olaf College in 2006. She was a theater and Hispanic studies major whose family said had taken nanny jobs at least twice before, including a job in Turkey, after answering online ads.

Olson's family gathered in front of its Cottage Grove home Saturday afternoon to share stories of a vivacious young woman "who was a joy, who trusted people."

She had recently finished playing Maria in her church community theater's production of "The Sound of Music," and was searching for a career to match her interests and energies.

Family members said they'd had misgivings about her finding jobs online. But she never seemed to worry.

"She always assumed the best in other people," said her father. "She assumed the best of this appointment Thursday morning. And, if it didn't work out, she assumed she could turn around and go home."

Craigslist.org, an online bulletin board, has fallen under the watch of law enforcement in recent years because of prostitution ads and its use to set up robberies, but an Internet search revealed no other homicides connected to the site.

Savage police Capt. David Muelken gave this account of Olson's death:

A resident told a Savage Public Works employee about a purse found in a garbage can at Pacer Park. That employee notified police, and an officer got the purse, which contained things belonging to Olson.

At first, it appeared to be a theft. Police called Olson's home and left a message telling her they had her purse.

About 5 p.m. Friday, Olson's roommate returned the call and told police she hadn't been seen since 8 a.m. Thursday.

Police went back to Pacer Park and found a garbage bag in the container. Inside the bag was a "significantly bloody towel."

An extensive search of the park area yielded no clues.

Savage police went through Olson's cell phone and credit card records to see if she had used either recently. They found nothing.

Then they got some information that "led them in a direction," Muelken said.

Meanwhile, a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter was called in to help. The pilot noticed a car in the parking lot of Rudy Kraemer Nature Preserve in Burnsville, which is a few blocks away from Pacer Park.

Police identified the car as Olson's and searched it. Her body was found in the trunk.

As the search proceeded Friday night, other investigators began to focus on the 19-year-old Savage man. He worked at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and airport police arrested him there Friday night.

He was taken to the Savage Police Department, where he was interviewed, and then brought to the Scott County jail.

"We're confident we have the suspect in custody," Muelken said. He said he believed there is no public threat.

Citing the investigation, police were cautious about the details they released. They didn't say how Olson might have been killed or whether a weapon was used. They said they weren't sure of a motive.

Olson's body was taken to the Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner's Office in Hastings for an autopsy.

Muelken said it was an unusual homicide because often there's a relationship between the victim and suspect.

This is the first homicide in Savage since 2000, when Donald Robertson was believed to have killed his wife, Linda, before fatally shooting himself. Before that, the last homicide in the city was the shooting death of a Bloomington man in 1976.

'Spontaneous, effusive'

Olson had graduated with honors from high school and college. She was fluent in Spanish and was taking night classes to become an interpreter, although her mother said she'd decided that might not be the career for her.

"She told me, 'I don't want to be invisible. I don't want to be behind the scenes. I'm an actress,'" said her father, Rolf Olson, pastor of Richfield Lutheran Church.

Her mother, Nancy Olson, said Katherine "just danced into people's lives." When Katherine joined the book club at church, she immediately charmed the other, much older members. They became, her father said, "her other moms."

She had helped coach high school speech and had been a receptionist for a local clinic that served Spanish-speaking families. But that job ended last week and she was searching for another -- including child care again, her sister said.

So she'd made the appointment to talk about the Savage job on Thursday. She went to the address, thinking it was a married couple who recently relocated to the Twin Cities, according to her father in an entry on Facebook.com. When Katherine didn't contact her family members that day, they became concerned. On Friday, her sister, Sarah, talked to Katherine's roommate, who mentioned that Olson had gone to Savage to interview for a babysitting job.

The next contact the family had, said Nancy Olson, was when police called saying they'd found her purse. On Saturday afternoon, family members said they are finding strength in the people who were touched by her life -- and the memories they hold.

"We grieve even more because of what the world has lost. Not just for us, but for all these other people she would have touched," said Nancy Olson, her face still speckled with glitter from holding a Mother's Day card Katherine made for her a few years ago.

"Parents get to raise a child and then release them to the world. And now she's gone to the next world," Nancy Olson said. "We've had her for the time we had her. And now we've given her away."

 
 


Michael John Anderson

 

The victim


Katherine Anne Olson, 24.

 

Katherine Anne Olson, 24.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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