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Murder of Ashley Ann Olsen

Ashley Ann Olsen was an American woman living in Florence, Italy who was murdered in her apartment in January 2016. An illegal immigrant who arrived in Italy from Senegal during the 2015 European migrant crisis was arrested and charged with the murder.



The case drew attention as one of a number of murders committed by migrants during the European migrant crisis.[1][2][3] 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."[4]

Sexual harassmentEdit

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.[5][6]

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.[4] 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.[7]


Olsen was the daughter of Walter and Paula Olsen, of Summer Haven, Florida.[8][4][9][10] 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,[11] and with the intention of studying art and in order to live near her father, who teaches at an American school in Florence.[12][13][14] She was living in an apartment in the Oltrarno neighborhood of Florence when she was murdered.[15]

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.[12][13] Marks on her neck indicated that she had been strangled to death.[16][17]

Cheik Tidiane Diaw, a 27-year-old Senegalese national who had recently entered Italy as an illegal immigrant, was arrested for the crime.[4] 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.[4] After identifying Diaw using security camera footage, police called him in for questioning, arresting him based on DNA evidence.[1] Diaw's attorney, Antonio Voce, said that Diaw and Olsen had consumed cocaine and alcohol.[18]

The lead investigator on the case, Giacinto Profazio, was involved in the Amanda Knox and Meredith Kercher expatriate murder, a case with which Olsen's murder is frequently compared.[12][1][2]

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.[19]

Prosecutors asked for a life sentence, the highest penalty available in Italy.[20][21]


The murderer, Cheik Diaw is an illegal immigrant from Senegal who arrived in Italy in 2015.[22][8][23][2] 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.[22]

Diaw was convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison.[24]

Attorneys acting for the perpetrator appealed the verdict, but the original 30-year prison sentence was upheld in January 2018.[25]


Further readingEdit

  • Un giglio macchiato di sangue, by Angela Giulietti (2016)


  1. ^ a b c Kington, Tom (15 January 2016). "Ashley Olsen: DNA ruse trapped socialite's 'killer'". The Australian. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Squires, Nick (14 January 2015). "Italian police arrest illegal immigrant over murder of American woman in Florence". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  3. ^ Bever, zlindsey (14 January 2016). "African immigrant says he fought with U.S. woman in Italy but 'she was still alive'". Washington Post. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e Pianigiani, Gaia (14 January 2015). "Italy Arrests Suspect in Death of American Woman". New York Times. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  5. ^ Grisafi, Patricia (25 March 2016). "The myth of the good victim: As an American facing street harassment abroad, I wondered what it meant to be a "good victim"". Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  6. ^ Nadeau, Barbie Latza (15 January 2016). "Ashley Olsen Didn't Deserve to Die, No Matter How Hard She Partied". Daily Beast. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  7. ^ Nadeu, Barbie Latza (20 January 2016). "Denmark Bounces Migrants From Nightclubs". Daily Beast. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  8. ^ a b Kirchgaessner, Stephanie (9 February 2016). "Ashley Olsen's family defend murdered artist's character from 'offensive' media". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  9. ^ "St. Johns County artist murdered in Italy". News 4. AP. 10 January 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  10. ^ Lombardi, Pietro (10 February 2016). "Ashley Olsen death: Family defend slain artist from 'offensive' media coverage". CNN. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  11. ^ Nadeau, Barbie Natza (13 January 2016). "An 'Eat, Pray, Love' Story Ends in Murder". Daily Beast. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
  12. ^ a b c Vogt, Andrea (10 January 2016). "Italian police search for killer after American socialite found strangled in her Florence apartment". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  13. ^ a b Scamell, Rosie (10 January 2016). "Italian police open murder inquiry into death of American woman". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  14. ^ Passanese, Antonio (9 February 2016). "[Esplora il significato del termine: Ashley, lo sfogo della famiglia "Quante falsità su di lei"] Ashley, lo sfogo della famiglia "Quante falsità su di lei"". Corriere della Sera. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  15. ^ Capecchi, Michelle (8 January 2017). "Remembering Ashley Olsen one year on". The Florentine. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  16. ^ Piangianini, Gaia (11 January 2016). "Italy: American Woman Found Dead". New York Times. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  17. ^ Faris, Stephan (11 January 2016). "Online Life of American Murdered in Italy Spurs Theories About Her Death". Time. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  18. ^ Nadeau, Barbie Latza (15 January 2016). "Ashley Olsen Didn't Deserve to Die". Daily Beast. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  19. ^ Seranno, Luca (9 February 2016). "Omicidio Ashley, nuove immagini di Cheik che lascia l'appartamento della donna". La Repubblica. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  20. ^ "Life sentence sought in murder of American woman in Italy". Fox News. AP. 19 December 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  21. ^ McKenna, Josephine (22 December 2016). "Ashley Olsen murder: man jailed for 30 years over death of US socialite in Italy". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  22. ^ a b "Senegalese man arrested in Ashley Olsen murder case". DW. Reuters, AP, AFP. 14 January 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  23. ^ Scammell, Rosie (14 January 2016). "Ashley Olsen: art community in shock over American's murder in Florence". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  24. ^ Piangiani, Gaia (22 December 2016). "Italian Court Sentences American's Killer to 30-Year Term". New York Times. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  25. ^ "Omicidio di Ashley Olsen, confermata la condanna a 30 anni per Diaw". La Nazione. 10 January 2018. Retrieved 19 June 2018.