As the pastor of a Lutheran church, the Rev. Rolf Olson is intimately aware of the central role of forgiveness in his religion. But applying that concept to the man who murdered his daughter is proving to be a difficult task.
“I preach, I teach the value of forgiveness. I live by it. I think forgiveness is a tool for healing relationships,” Olson told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira Thursday, the day after he and his family watched 20-year-old Michael John Anderson sentenced to life in prison without parole for the October 2007 murder of Olson’s daughter, Katherine Olson.
Olson, 24, went to Anderson’s home in response to an ad he posted online at Craigslist. Identifying himself as “Amy,” Anderson had said he needed a baby sitter. According to police reports, when Olson arrived at the home, Anderson shot her in the back, bound her legs together, stuffed her in the trunk of her car and drove the car to a nearby park, where he abandoned it.
Quickly dubbed the Craigslist murder, the crime shocked the Minneapolis area and focused attention on the dangers of the Internet.
“We have no relationship with Mr. Anderson, perhaps never will … so it’s kind of premature to talk about forgiving or attempting to reconcile with someone we’ve frankly never met,” Rolf Olson told Vieira from Minnesota.
“In the New Testament the word ‘forgive’ means ‘to cut loose or release,’ ” he continued. “That’s what we’re trying to do with Mr. Anderson and his influence on our family. He’s had such a negative power in our lives that we’re attempting to cut that free, to let it go, to release it so we can get on with the vital, loving lives that we want.”
Olson was joined by his wife, Nancy, and Katherine’s sister, Sarah Richter, 27, and her brother Karl, 23.