Craigslist Job Interview Turns Deadly

October 29, 2007 · Print This Article · Email This Post

Katherine Ann Olson, Craigslist Murder VictimKatherine Ann Olson, 24, has become the first person ever killed as a result of responding to a Craigslist classified ad. The Minneapolis, Minnesota area resident, who had previously found a year-long nanny position through the popular Internet site, was last seen alive on Thursday morning, 25 October. An investigation began on Friday morning, when Olson’s purse was found in a garbage container in a Savage, MN park, along with a bloody towel which had the name of…Michael John Anderson on it. Smart, huh? After a Minnesota Patrol helicopter spotted her car on Friday night in the Kraemer Nature Preserve in Burnsville, her body was found in her car trunk.

Michael John Anderson's Home in Savage, MinnesotaOlson thought she was responding to an ad placed by a married couple in the 12600 block of Kipling Avenue in Savage, Minnesota. She thought they were seeking a nanny; instead, she met her alleged killer, 19-year-old Michael John Anderson, who was booked early Saturday at the Scott County jail regarding her death. Shortly after Olson’s body was found, the suspect was arrested at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, where he works worked. He’s described as living at home with his parents.

Suspect Michael John Anderson's Mug ShotToday, Anderson was formally charged with second-degree murder in connection with the case. The criminal complaint alleges that Olson was shot in the back with a .357 Magnum by Anderson at his Savage home, where the gun and shell casings were found. Forensics found blood in his bedroom, on his shoes and on stairs leading down from the bedroom. Olson wasn’t sexually assaulted. A neighbor also saw Olson’s gold Hyundai Elantra parked in front of Anderson’s home for more than two hours on Thursday, according to the criminal complaint. His cell phone records show that he talked with Olson on Thursday morning. Eventually, confronted with all of the evidence, Anderson said he was present when Olson was slain but that a friend of his who “thought it would be funny” was the real killer. Bail is $1 million.


Craig Newmark, Craigslist FounderCraig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, was shocked by the murder. “I can’t recall a single case like it,” Newmark told KARE 11 news. “This is the worst that I can recall…I’d just like to express my condolences. This is a real tragedy, and we’re more eager than ever to help deal with the bad guy.” Although Olson’s family said it wasn’t unusual for her to seek nanny jobs on Craigslist, her sister, Sarah Richter, has a warning for other users of the classified ad website: “Continue doing your business and your transactions and your explorations on Craigslist, but take it with a little caution. People are generally good people except for those few bad apples. We’ve learned that there are those.” Her family put up a memorial page for Olson on Facebook.


Laurie Raye, with Debris from Her Gutted Home in Tacoma, WashingtonWhile Olson is the first person murdered as a result of a Craiglist contact, there have been other problems. In April 2007, Laurie Raye’s home in Tacoma, Washington was stripped after a niece, Nichole Blackwell, posted an ad on Craigslist saying: “Moving out…House being demolished. Come and take what you want, nothing is off limits.” Raye didn’t learn that the house had been gutted until she stopped by to check on it six days later; she was particularly devastated because the home had belonged to her mother. The front door, windows, light fixtures, the hot water heater, the refrigerator and even the kitchen sink were gone.

A 5 September 2007 New York Times article said that many vice squads throughout the country use Craigslist to catch prostitutes and their customers, including eight women who recently traveled to Nassau County, New York from as far away as California to provide prostitution services. A three-day police sting ad in Jacksonville, Florida netted 33 men in August 2007, including a teacher and a firefighter. John Hartley, the assistant chief sheriff, said the police got “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hits” via e’mail and phone calls. A similar police sting in Seattle, Washington in November 2006 netted 71 men, including a banker and a surgeon.

Richard McGuire, Nassau’s assistant chief of detectives, said: “Craigslist has become the high-tech 42nd Street, where much of the solicitation takes place now…Technology has worked its way into every profession, including the oldest.” According to the Times article: “The police say that Craigslist has changed prostitution’s patterns, with people roaming the country, setting up shop for a week or two in hotels — often near airports — where they use laptop computers and cellphones to arrange encounters for hundreds of dollars, then moving on to their next location.”

It’s a miracle no one has been killed before Olson. Or perhaps there are other incidents which went unnoticed. Caveat emptor, when it comes to Craigslist.

Read another horror story about Craigslist.

Photo credits: AP, Chris Polydoroff / Pioneer Press, Craigslist and

Copyright © 2007


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