By Esme Murphy, WCCO-TV

The gorgeous jazz sound of Sophia Shorai lit up the American Idol stage this week. Steven Tyler raved about the young Minneapolis woman’s rendition of “Georgia on My Mind”. It turns out that Sophia Shorai is the professional name for Sophia Peterson, daughter of Sara Jane Olson and Dr. Fred Peterson of St. Paul.

Ring a bell?

Sara Jane Olson is the former Kathleen Soliah, who for 23 years was a fugitive from justice. She was finally caught after the TV show America’s Most Wanted featured her story in 1999. She had been living for 23 years in St. Paul, starring in plays at the Guthrie, shepherding her kids to soccer games, an infamous fugitive who was the Mom next door. She ended up serving seven years for her role in a 1975 California bank robbery in which a bank customer was killed. Throughout, her family stood by her.

Nothing should minimize Olson’s crime, but you have to wonder what it was like for her three daughters to live through that? What was it like for them for the seven years their mom was in prison? What was it like knowing that your mother had lead a secret life and was an infamous fugitive? In the Idol audition interview Shorai raves about her parents relationship in a way anyone who has children and is married can only hope their kids would.

I have always felt that someone’s kids are a reflection on their parents. Whatever wrongs Sara Jane Olsen committed, she obviously got what many consider the world’s toughest job, being a parent, right. You have to root for Shorai and hope now that the word is out about her Mom’s past, that the daughter’s future will not be compromised.


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