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 ...