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.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedKay Warren: Stop Sending Cheery Christmas Cards
Kay Warren: Stop Sending Cheery Christmas Cards
When you don't mention our son's tragic death, it only hurts more.
TrendingPope Francis Learns What Rick Warren, Russell Moore, N. T. Wright Think about Marriage
Pope Francis Learns What Rick Warren, Russell Moore, N. T. Wright Think about Marriage
(UPDATED) Warren turns Vatican conference into 'revivalist meeting,' while Moore explains why marriage crosses theological boundaries.
Editor's PickWhat Forgotten Christmas Tradition Should Churches Revive?
What Forgotten Christmas Tradition Should Churches Revive?
Rooting our celebration of Christ’s birth more deeply in our lives.
Comments
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.