Guest / Limited Access /

Katherine Ann Olson packed her car's backseat with children's books before she drove to her babysitting job on October 27, 2007. The 24-year-old Minneapolis woman was answering a post at Craigslist.org. This wasn't the first time she had answered an online ad. But this time, 19-year-old Michael Anderson was waiting for her. One day later, authorities found Olson's dead body in her car's trunk. Last week, Minnesota District Judge Mary Theisen sentenced Anderson to life in prison without parole.

Olson's mother, Nancy, told Theisen in court that she had endured the same nightmare several times since Katherine died 17 months ago.

"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."

Nancy said after sentencing that Anderson is a "pathetic human being." She does not want a relationship with him. Nor will she pray for him. She clings to a friend's counsel. "There is in life a suffering so unspeakable, a vulnerability so extreme that it goes far beyond words, beyond explanations and even beyond healing. In the face of such suffering all we can do is bear witness so no one need suffer alone."

Rolf Olson, Nancy's husband and Katherine's father, is the lead pastor of Richfield Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. He acknowledged that his daughter's death has tested his faith. "I do that pastor thing … evil, forgiveness, God's grace, sin." He said the New Testament defines forgiveness as "to cut free, to let go." Slowly, he and his family are trying to cut Anderson free. "Forgiveness is a process. There is no rush."

Like the Olson family, Cindy Winters lost a loved one to a deranged killer. But ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueI Went From Fighting in a Cage to Living in a Hut
I Went From Fighting in a Cage to Living in a Hut
How an MMA fighter found Jesus—and discovered his calling in the Congo.
RecommendedMagi, Wise Men, or Kings? It’s Complicated.
Magi, Wise Men, or Kings? It’s Complicated.
Christian tradition finds meaning in each of these mysterious monikers.
Trending‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
Islamic extremism now has a rival, according to 2017 World Watch List.
Editor's PickLatasha Morrison: The Church Is the ‘Only Place Equipped to Do Racial Reconciliation Well’
Latasha Morrison: The Church Is the ‘Only Place Equipped to Do Racial Reconciliation Well’
The founder of Be the Bridge reveals her vision for solving America's race problem.
Christianity Today
When Hope Feels Like a Fool's Errand
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

April 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.