Was a nanny's murderer aided by Craigslist?

How to safely answer online classified ads.

Published October 29, 2007 9:46PM (EDT)

Authorities in Savage, Minn., a small town south of Minneapolis, say that a local woman was murdered last week after she answered a Craigslist ad looking for a nanny.

According to the Star Tribune, Katherine Ann Olson, a 24-year-old actress, had found nanny jobs several times on CL. She was last seen alive by her friends on Thursday morning on her way to meet a man about a job.

Late on Friday night, police found her car at a park in nearby Burnsville, Minn.; her body was found in the trunk.

Authorities later arrested a 19-year-old man whom they say placed the Craigslist ad. Savage police Capt. David Muelken told reporters, "We're confident we have the suspect in custody."

This is Craigslist's first murder. Obviously a grim milestone, but also amazing that it's the first in more than 450 million ads placed on the site during the last 12 years.

I asked a representative for tips on how people can be safe on the site. I got back some common-sensical guidelines:

  • Insist on a public meeting place like a cafe
  • Tell a friend or family member where you're going
  • Take your cellphone along if you have one
  • Consider having a friend accompany you
  • Trust your instincts

By Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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Craigslist Crime