The last thing an Akron woman did before she was raped and murdered was help the man who became her killer.
Mary Kay “Katie” Wohlfarth assisted Michael Olson with cleaning and vacuuming his storage unit. As she emptied a wet-dry vac into a dumpster, Olson waited behind the trash container, ready to attack.
“Katie did nothing to contribute to the horrible crime that befell her,” said Assistant Prosecutor Tom Kroll. “She showed kindness to the defendant.”
This was among the details prosecutors shared Tuesday during the sentencing for Olson, who pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and other charges for the June beating death of Wohlfarth. Her body was found inside Olson’s storage unit.
Under an agreement with prosecutors, Olson, 35, pleaded guilty Tuesday to aggravated murder, rape, gross abuse of a corpse, grand theft of a motor vehicle and trespass in a habitation. In exchange, the Coventry Township man avoided the death penalty.
Several of Wohlfarth’s family members and friends spoke during the sentencing, praising Wohlfarth’s life and expressing hatred of Olson for cutting it short. A few said they think Olson deserved to be put to death.
“You are a selfish, disgusting, hate-filled scourge!” said Jason Adams, a long-time friend of Wohlfarth. “The world is a better place without your evil upon it.”
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Amy Corrigall Jones immediately sentenced Olson to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the penalty agreed upon by attorneys.
Wohlfarth’s body was found June 19 in a storage unit that Olson, a local handyman, rented on East Tallmadge Avenue in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood.
Wohlfarth, 68, also rented a storage unit at this business. Her family had reported her missing hours before police found her body.
A surveillance video showed Olson driving Wohlfarth’s 2012 Kia Sedona minivan from the storage facility. The minivan was found June 20 — the day after Wohlfarth’s body was discovered — in the 800 block of Whittier Avenue in West Akron.
The Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Wohlfarth died of “blunt force trauma to the head and neck.”
Kroll said Akron police and Wohlfarth’s family signed off on the plea agreement to avoid a lengthy capital trial and appeals.
The courtroom was packed with family members of both Wohlfarth and Olson for the sentencing.
Sam Mannino, a friend of Wohlfarth’s, said she will pray for Olson’s family.
“I won’t pray for you,” she told Olson. “You are the devil.”
Maria Boscia, Wohlfarth’s niece, said she hasn’t cried about her aunt’s death. She thinks it’s because she still has so many questions.
“Was she afraid?” Boscia asked, glancing at Olson. “Did she beg for her life? Did she suffer long?”
Pat Wohlfarth shared some fond memories of her older sister, including eagerly waiting for Katie to come home to share the wisdom she had gained in kindergarten and helping to care for the family’s pets, which included cats, dogs, hamsters, seahorses, turtles, frogs, lizards and even an alligator.
“She was always doing things for other people,” Pat Wohlfarth said. “She was never a victim — except in the last few hours of her life.”
Pat Wohlfarth said some older people become “fossilized” but not her sister. She said Katie enjoyed ziplining, going on cruises and playing Pokemon Go. She said her sister, who was a well-known antiques dealer, should have died surrounded by people she loved.
“It breaks my heart that the last face she saw was Michael Olson, the vicious person who raped and murdered her,” her sister said. “He must never be released from prison. My hope is that he will not live long even in prison. The world will be a better place without him in it.”
Kerry O’Brien, Olson’s attorney, said both Wohlfarth and Olson’s families have been shattered. He said everyone who knew Olson — who has no prior criminal record — was stunned by what he had done.
James Olson, Michael’s father, said police found a bag of crystal methamphetamine when they arrested his son and he thinks the drugs influenced what happened. He said many people trusted his son with their homes, children and pets.
“He should have the potential for redemption,” the father said. “I am asking the court — if he exhibits good behavior — to consider parole.”
Kroll, though, reiterated that the plea agreement means Michael Olson will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Olson, who sat through much of the sentencing with eyes downcast or with hands over his face or clasped as if in prayer, apologized to Wohlfarth’s family during a brief statement. He blamed the drugs, but said he chose to take them.
“I hope that — one day — you will see that I’m not the devil,” he said.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, email@example.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.