Craigslist Murder Hits Close To Home

I received a tearful call from my daughter this evening. She phoned to say that the body of her good friend, Katherine Olson, was discovered in the trunk of a car. Katherine was murdered after answering a babysitting ad on Craigslist.

Katherine and my daughter shared many adventures together while attending the same junior-year abroad program in Buenos Aires. After graduation, they stayed in touch, chatting frequently on-line via g-chat (Google chat).

News of the murder sent shock waves throughout Facebook and the highly networked, global/mobile twenty-something community.

Katherine’s family (and/ or friends) quickly established a Facebook page in her honor “Remembering Katherine Olson.”

“Katherine’s life was cut short by inexplicable violence that we will never be able to fully understand,” they wrote.

Various reports say Katherine’s murder appears to be the first directly associated with Craigslist, now 25% owned by Ebay. Craig Newmark issued a statement but, officially, the freebie ad site has been preternaturally (and inappropriately) quiet about the tragedy.

A few Craigslist members have posted warnings and caveats about using the site, and the nanny/babysitting ads in particular which they say encourage young women to divulge far too much personal information to blind email addresses.

Marketing pundits are starting to weigh-in. The following is from marketingblurb:

“It looks like Craigslist will need to rethink its security features to regain the confidence of consumers. I’m assuming that many Craigslist users might think twice before answering ads in the future. I know I will. I don’t think a publicity campaign will be enough to reassure consumers that Craigslist is safe. I think changes are in order from Craigslist to help protect users."

Some of the most detailed reporting of the murder has come out of truecrimeweblog, a site that uncovered a photo of the suspect and some moving text written by Katherine from her days at St. Olaf’s College.

Said my shaken daughter who was truly not embellishing, “Katherine was probably the most caring person I ever met.”

Godspeed, Katherine, wherever you are.