Craigslist Killer Could Be A Teenage Boy

by Medindia Content Team on Nov 1 2007 11:16 AM

America is rocked by the murder of a young woman who responded to an online ad for a babysitter. Before leaving to meet the ‘mother’ or the ‘couple’, as Katherine Ann Olson, 24, of Minneapolis expected, she told her roommate that the respondent sounded “kind of strange”.

According to authorities Olson was shot in the back, at the home of her killer at Savage, Minneapolis. The accused is 19-year-old John Michael Anderson who was staying at home with his parents. Anderson then allegedly stuffed Olson into the trunk of her car.

Attorneys for Anderson have made no comment on the charge till now. Says defense attorney Robert M. Speeter: "I think in a case like this, we'll just let the judicial process take its course.”

According to the criminal complaint, Olson went to Anderson's home Thursday in response to the baby-sitting job she had seen advertised on Craigslist. This is a very popular Internet bulletin board, which carries free listings of classified ads. This was not the first time Olson had taken nanny jobs. According to her family, she frequently used the Internet for sourcing babysitter jobs.

This ad was set up by someone who claimed to be "Amy." According to Olson's roommate, Matt Thiede, Olson had conversed with "Amy" and commented that ‘she’ seemed kind of strange. 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 given to Olson match Anderson’s address and cell phone number, say authorities.

According to police authorities Olson thought she was responding to a woman or a couple in need of babysitting. The evidence meanwhile shows that the e-mail account of ‘Amy’ was the same as with Michael John Anderson. Olson was last seen Thursday morning at her apartment, before her death.

Authorities began the search Friday morning after Olson's purse and some bloodied towels with Anderson’s name were found in a garbage can in Savage. Their investigation led them to the house where Anderson lives with his parents. Police gathered evidence of blood spatters in several locations at the home, including on the stairs. In Anderson's bedroom, authorities located a gun and shell casing, as well as blood on the walls and on the mattress, the criminal complaint says.

According to a neighbor, Olson’s car was sitting in front of Anderson's house for more than two hours on Thursday. The police took Anderson from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where he fuels planes. Since late Friday, he has been in the Scott County Jail. His bail has been set at $1 million.

At first, Anderson told police he had nothing to do with the murder. He denied having phone contact with Olson. But cell phone records confirmed that Olson called Anderson Thursday morning. He also denied using Craigslist since January, though the e-mail address in the ad matched his address. He even told police his mother and three friends had access to the account. Yet, when faced with the incriminating evidence Anderson changed his story. He said he was present during Olson's slaying but the killing was carried out by a friend who "thought it would be funny."

Olson was a 2002 graduate of Park-Cottage Grove High School, where she was co-valedictorian. She graduated from St. Olaf College in 2006. Olson’s family has posted a letter on Facebook, saying that Olson had used Craigslist in the past to find "kindred spirits and opportunities." The family also said that 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, says Olson's slaying is the first the company has seen in its 12-year history. She stressed the importance of people being 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 informed that Craigslist does not monitor each individual listing or user, but that the bulletin board is self-monitored by its community. Users can log complaints or flag suspicious postings. Craigslist staff can also 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 was quoted in an e-mail.

This case is just another one underlining the grave dangers of Internet irresponsibility. 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 He was convicted this summer of two counts of sexual assault but acquitted of other rapes. In India, his ‘friends’ whom he met on the popular Orkut site murdered moneyed teenager Adnan Patrawala.