Published October 30, 2007
Tonight we are learning that 24-year-old Katherine Olson of Minnesota was murdered — shot in the back, her body stuffed in the trunk of her car where she was found late Friday night.
We are also learning the identity of the prime suspect. Nineteen-year-old Michael John Anderson, who was arrested over the weekend, was charged today with second-degree murder and is being held on $1 million bail. Police say blood was found in Anderson's home and a gun was located in his bedroom.
The two likely met on the Internet. Police believe that Olson may have been killed at Anderson's house after she responded to a fake online babysitting ad posted on Craigslist.com.
If you use Craigslist, a popular Web site that posts job listings, apartment rentals and stuff for sale in communities across the country, remember what happened to 24-year-old Katherine Olson.
Many people use Craigslist and for some reason must feel a certain level of safety, perhaps because a user can limit searches to a certain geographic area. Maybe we are more likely to trust those who live in our own hometown. Well, it is not a good idea.
I was shocked to read numerous new babysitting ads taken out by people in the Minneapolis area. In Excelsior, Minnesota, an upper-class area on gorgeous Lake Minnetonka, someone writes: "I am looking for a babysitter Monday and Wednesday nights from 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. My daughter is two-and-a-half years old and pretty easy to please."
Yikes! Hello?! Would you trust someone you met on the Internet to watch your children? Is this parent just asking for trouble?
I know, people who use this service say that they check references, but there are a lot of sickos out there. Would you, a friend, or your daughter respond to this babysitting ad? Perhaps, but keep in mind that on the Internet, things are not always as they seem.
Craigslist Nanny Murder Reinforces Online Dangers
Twenty-four-year-old Katherine Ann Olson was looking to make extra money babysitting, so she did what many young people do: go to the Web to check job postings on the popular Web site, Craigslist.com. She had success with a job hunt on Craigslist.com before. She worked as a nanny for more than a year.
After finding a listing for a babysitting job last week, authorities believe that Olson headed to a Minneapolis suburb to meet her perspective employer. She never returned home. Police found her body in the trunk of her car Friday night and now have a suspect in custody.
Police arrested a 19-year-old man who may have taken out a false ad on Craigslist and who may have lured Olson to her death. Captain David Muelken said that the man is being held without bond and will be charged with second-degree murder.
Many people use these community Web sites. It's a quick and easy way to learn about services available in certain cities: dog walkers, apartments for rent, handymen and, yes, babysitters too.
I was shocked to hear a colleague tell me that her friends frequently hire babysitters that they've found on Craigslist. She assured me that they check references. Yikes! I immediately thought this sounded risky. A criminal can easily craft stories to support what he or she wants you to believe.
I've used Craigslist numerous times for apartment hunting and have never had a problem, but I have always told someone where I was going and have had someone accompany me when meeting the owner.
Olson is not at fault, but taking additional precautions may have prevented her death. We don't yet know what happened. Did she go to someone's home? Did she meet her killer in the park where her car was found?
Finding a job or a babysitter for your kids online may seem harmless, but when it comes to getting together with these strangers, proceed with extreme caution.
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