Murder of Katherine Ann Olson

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Michael John Anderson (born 1988), a resident of Savage, Minnesota, 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.[1]

The crime[edit]

Michael John Anderson, age 19, murdered Katherine Anne Olson (1983-October 25, 2007), a 24-year-old theater and Hispanic studies graduate of St. Olaf College and temporary nanny,[2] on October 25, 2007, in a Minneapolis, Minnesota suburb after seeing an ad for her services as a nanny on Craigslist.[3]

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."[4]

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 containing Olson's body was discovered on October 26, 2007.[3]


Anderson did not testify during his trial, or show any emotion. His attorneys initially pursued a defense on the basis of mental incapacity; a psychiatrist and a psychologist diagnosed Anderson with Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.[5] A court psychiatric examination disagreed that Anderson was autistic, and the judge ruled that the defense failed to prove how Asperger Syndrome was related to the case. Anderson's attorneys were barred from presenting a contrary conclusion from their own expert.[6]

Anderson, who was the first murderer referred to by the media as a "Craigslist Killer",[1] was found guilty of first degree murder and received a life sentence without parole on April 1, 2009.[4]

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.[4] The Supreme Court of Minnesota affirmed the verdict and sentence on appeal in October 2014.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Craigslist Killer Michael John Anderson". New York Daily News. April 2, 2009. Retrieved April 21, 2009. April 2, 2009: New York Daily News refers to Michael John Anderson as "Craigslist Killer." 
  2. ^ Havens, Chris; and James Walsh. "Saturday: Online nanny ad ends in slaying", Star Tribune, 28 October 2007. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
  3. ^ a b "Police know how, can't explain why". StarTribune. October 31, 2007. Retrieved April 21, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c "'Craigslist killer' Michael John Anderson gets life in murder of Katherine Olson". New York Daily News / Associated Press. April 3, 2009. Retrieved April 21, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Victim's sister feels 'bad' for Craigslist killer". Today News/Associated Press. April 2, 2009. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
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