Murder of Ashley Ann Olsen
Ashley Ann Olsen was an American woman living in Florence, Italy whose murder in her apartment in 2016 drew wide attention. An illegal migrant who arrived in Italy from Senegal during the 2015 European migration crisis was arrested and charged with murder.
The case rapidly acquired political significance in the context of the European migrant crisis, as one of a number of murders committed by illegal migrants and asylum seekers. According to the New York Times, the New Year's Eve sexual assaults in Germany, "resonated in Italy", and the police chief of Florence addressed safety worries, "assuring the public that Florence remained safe" in the wake of the Olsen murder."
One American news article contextualized the murder as an example of the threat posed by "gang(s) of thugs who prey on foreign tourists."
Olsen's murder was discussed as an example of the sexual harassment that women, especially young, foreign, women face in Italian cities, and of the victim blaming of young, attractive female murder victims for their own deaths.
Olsen was killed at a time of rising public concern about miscommunication regarding consent to sexual activity between migrant men and European women, and international attention was focused on the New Year's Eve sexual assaults in Germany that took place in a number of cities just days before Olsen was killed. In January, Denmark debated a proposal to ban anyone who could not speak Danish, German or English from entering a bar or nightclub, and news discussion of the proposal included the Ashley Ann Olsen case.
Olsen was the daughter of Walter and Paula Olsen, of Summer Haven, Florida. She was a 1999 graduate of St. Joseph Academy. She moved to Florence in 2014 after the breakup of her marriage to South African diver Grant Jankielsohn, and with the intention of studying art and in order to live near her father, who teaches at an American school in Florence. She was living in an apartment in the Otramo neighborhood of Florence when she was murdered.
Murder, investigation and trialEdit
Olsen, 35, was found dead in her apartment in the Santo Spirito neighborhood of Florence by her boyfriend, Florentine artist Federico Fiorentini, on 9 January 2016. Marks on her neck indicated that she had been strangled to death.
Cheik Tidiane Diaw, a 27-year-old Senegalese national who had recently entered Italy as an illegal immigrant, was arrested for the crime. Witnesses saw the two leave a nightclub in Florence together on 7 January. Security cameras in the street recorded them walking to Olsen's apartment in the early hours of 8 January. After identifying Diaw using security camera footage, police called him in for questioning, arresting him based on DNA evidence. Diaw's attorney, Antonio Voce, said that Diaw and Olsen had consumed cocaine and alcohol.
On 9 February, reexamination of security tapes by authorities showed that suspect Diaw had returned to the apartment on the night of the murder and spent a period of time inside after his first departure from it.
The murderer, Cheik Diaw is an illegal immigrant from Senegal who arrived in Italy in 2015. According to the prosecutor, DNA analysis of a cigarette butt and a condom found by police investigators in Olsen's bathroom led to Diaw's arrest.
Diaw was convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
- Un giglio macchiato di sangue, by Angela Giulietti (2016)
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