Nancy and Rolf Olson

Nancy and Rolf Olson, the parents of Katherine Ann Olson, and sister Sarah Richter (right) talked with reporters following the sentencing of Michael Anderson.

Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

Nancy Olson

Nancy Olson holds photographs of her daughter, Katherine Ann Olson.

Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

Craigslist killer gets life without parole

  • Article by: ABBY SIMONS
  • Star Tribune
  • April 1, 2009 - 11:29 PM

Grief and anger showed in the tears of Katherine Olson's family as they addressed her killer at his sentencing Wednesday in a courtroom in Shakopee.

"I don't know if Michael Anderson will ever understand what this feels like," said Olson's older sister, Sarah Richter, glaring in the direction of the man who came to be called the Craigslist killer because he lured the 24-year-old Minneapolis woman to her death by posting an ad online for a baby sitter.

The victim's mother, Nancy Olson, told District Judge Mary Theisen about a recurring dream she has had in the 17 months since police found Olson's body in the trunk of her own car.

"She appeared to me as a 24-year-old, naked, with a bullet hole in her back and crawled into my lap," Nancy Olson said. "I cradled her for a long time trying to protect her from the cruel world."

The mother's "victim-impact statement" was one of several Theisen heard before sentencing Anderson, 20, of Savage, to a mandatory term of life in prison without parole. A jury convicted Anderson of premeditated murder Tuesday night after a six-day trial in Scott County District Court.

A young girl's dreams

In addition to the victim's family members, many of their supporters attended the sentencing, as well as Anderson's parents, several police officers, and six members of the jury.

Nancy and the Rev. Rolf Olson read from a journal their daughter wrote at age 12. It reflected the dreams of a bubbly young girl who wanted to win an Oscar, marry a tall man with dark eyes, and have four kids who would all play piano, sing and play soccer. The couple said happy memories of their daughter will one day overcome the horrible images they endured in the courtroom, such as the sight of their daughter, in police photos, crammed in the trunk of her car, its back seat still filled with the children's books for the baby-sitting job she thought she had that day.

Throughout the proceedings Wednesday, Anderson remained stoic and unmoving, as he had been throughout the weeklong trial. The suit and tie he wore during the trial had been replaced by a green jail jumpsuit. He answered "No," when the judge asked if he wanted to speak.

His lead attorney, Alan Margoles, spoke for him, conveying what he said were Anderson's "deepest regrets for his actions."

Juror needed 'closure'

Juror Tim Peterson, of Savage, cried in the courtroom as Olson's parent's conveyed their grief.

Peterson, 36, works in marketing and has a sister Katherine Olson's age. He said the jury came fairly quickly to the unanimous conclusion that the killing was premeditated. He said it was "cathartic" to attending the sentencing.

"Just having to detach yourself from photos like that and hearing that testimony and not being able to talk about it leaves it knotted up inside," he said. "I needed to come today for closure, to let it out."

Anderson's parents, Barbara and Michael Anderson, left the courthouse without comment.

Juror Dawn Sobotta, of Shakopee, said she was not without compassion for them.

"I feel horrible for his family as well, that they're all wrapped up in this," Sobotta said. "They didn't ask for this."

Judge Theisen, tears in her eyes, acknowledged each member of the Olson family for his or her strength and bravery. Her tone changed when she turned to Anderson.

"Why did you do this? You are the only one who knows, and I won't pretend to understand it," Theisen said, adding that she believed Anderson shot Olson as she was "running for her life." She said it was an act of cowardice.

She said it was "a brutal, incomprehensible act," the way he stuffed her in a car trunk and left her to die. She said:

"You have shown no remorse, no empathy, and I have no sympathy for you."

Abby Simons • 612-673-4291

© 2018 Star Tribune