Saturday, April 18, 2009

When Advertising or Answering an Ad Online, BE CAREFUL, You May Get More Than You Bargained For.

On March 31, A jury found Michael Anderson guilty of premeditated murder in the shooting of Katherine Olson, 24, a Minneapolis woman, he lured to his house in Savage, MN through an ad on Craigslist. Susan MacTavish Best, a spokeswoman for Craigslist, the online classified service, said Olson's slaying was the first the company has seen in its 12-year history.

I’ll expound on this conviction in a bit, but first I want to tell you about a murder and a couple of robberies that have occurred in Boston, Mass. and Warwick, RI over the last week. These crimes also have ties to ads placed on Craigslist and remain unsolved as this is written. All of the women had advertised massage services on Craigslist, and both of the women in Boston were guests at luxury hotels. According to Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis the motive for both attacks appeared to be robbery.

Julissa Brisman, 26, was killed at the plush Marriott Copley Place hotel, apparently by a man who answered her ad on craigslist, police said. Hotel guests reported hearing screams from Brisman’s room on the 20th floor of the downtown hotel. She was found lying in a pool of blood, with several bullet wounds and a plastic "restraint" on one wrist, police said. A massage table was set up inside the 20th-floor room. Brisman was rushed to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The victim at the Westin, a 29-year-old from Las Vegas, was bound with a plastic cord and robbed of a debit card and $800 in cash. Police believe Brisman's attacker had also attempted to tie her with a plastic cord. Police said that they believe the victim at the Westin was involved in prostitution but that they are uncertain about Brisman. Friends and relatives of Brisman deny she is involved in prostitution and only offered masseuse services.

Boston police have released surveillance images of a man who they believe may have killed Julissa Brisman at Boston's Marriott Copley hotel and robbed another woman a few days earlier at the Westin Hotel. The suspect is described as a clean-cut white man, medium build, about 6-feet tall with blonde hair. These are images of the suspect grabbed from surveillance video at the hotels.

Meanwhile as Boston police search for this suspect there was an attempted assault and robbery at the Holiday Inn Express in nearby Warwick, RI on Thursday night, April 16.
Warwick's police chief, Col. Stephen McCartney said detectives from both cities reviewed the evidence collected from Thursday night's attempted assault and robbery at the Holiday Inn Express. McCartney said the surveillance video from the hotel has significant evidence on it; however, it is not being released to the public but the suspect matches the description of the man wanted in connection with the incidents in Boston.
During a news conference late Friday morning McCartney confirmed the victim was a 26 year-old woman from Las Vegas. He said the suspect tied the woman up with cord in a room at the Holiday Inn Express, and held a gun to her head. The suspect fled when the victim's husband returned to the room, according to McCartney. Nothing was taken and the woman was not physically hurt.
The woman told police she worked at The Cadillac Lounge, a strip club in Providence, RI and was offering massage services that she advertised on Craigslist. McCartney said investigators are still trying to locate the online ad. He also said she may have been involved in some sort of a sex-for-money transaction at the point in time when she had the confrontation with this alleged assailant.
According to Tom Nolan an associate professor of criminal justice at Boston University, and a former Boston police officer with 27 years of service under his belt, "This guy is going to get caught for sure. He looks like anyone who could be walking down Commonwealth Avenue, looks like any man. But someone knows him." "Technology will ultimately prove his undoing. The very means by which he gained access to his victims and target his victims, selected his victims, communicated with them... this is all retrievable information and information that forensic investigators can identify and use to track down who this individual is."

Now should you be thinking these women behaved in high risk behaviors and that is why this happened to them, consider the case of Katherine Olson, mentioned at the beginning of this entry. Katherine was answering an ad for a nanny position when she was killed by Michael Anderson. A job as a nanny would hardly be considered high risk behavior.
According to the criminal complaint, Anderson posted the phony babysitter-for-hire ad on Craigslist, luring Olson to his home in Savage, MN on Oct. 25,2007. The next day, Olson's body was found in the trunk of her car in a Burnsville park.
Olson had told her roommate that the person who placed the ad "seemed kind of strange," according to prosecutors. Olson went anyway, thinking she would be meeting a woman named Amy, or a couple.

Instead, authorities say, she was lured to the home of her killer, Anderson, who shot her in the back before stuffing her in the trunk of her car.Police found blood spatters in Anderson’s suburban home he shared with his parents, a gun in his bedroom and drag marks on the stairway.Olson's body was found in her car, which was abandoned in a park about five blocks from Anderson's house. Her ankles were bound with red twine, according to the criminal complaint filed in Scott County. Her purse, her smashed cell phone, and bloody towels—one of which bore Anderson's name—were found in a nearby garbage can.

Officials said the evidence indicates Olson and Anderson did not know each other and that there was no evidence of sexual assault. Olson had taken nanny jobs at least twice before, including a job in Turkey, after answering online ads. Olson and "Amy" exchanged e-mails, and in one message, "Amy" asked Olson to baby-sit a child at an address and phone number that matched Anderson's address and cell phone number, authorities said.
The judge sentenced Anderson to life in prison without the chance of parole in the shooting death of Katherine Ann Olson on April 1, 2009.

Katherine Olson’s behavior wouldn’t be considered risky but for the fact she answered an online ad by meeting a stranger alone in a private home. I have included a link to Craigslist safety tips .
For a one stop look at this case I posted the articles I could find at Juror Thirteen. The links to the original articles are included here at J13.

MacTavish Best said Craigslist doesn't monitor each individual listing or user, but is self-monitored by its community. Users can log complaints or flag suspicious postings, and Craigslist staff can block users from the site if terms of use are violated. She said it's important for people to be cautious.
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