When Anderson was a teenager, his father died of a heart attack and his mother remarried. He attended Alton High School as a teenager and graduated in 1975. In 1984, he graduated with a degree in Business Administration from Elmhurst College. At some point, he met Barbara Lynch, and married her in Chicago a year after his college graduation. They both lived together in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, with their three children. In March 1992, Anderson called Barbara's insurance company to determine if her $250,000 policy was in effect. On April 21 of the same year, Anderson and his wife went to a movie at T.G.I. Friday's located outside the Northridge Mall in Milwaukee. After dinner, Anderson stabbed Barbara twenty-one times, then stabbed himself four times in the chest. Barbara died from her wounds two days later.
When police arrived, Anderson blamed two African-American men for the attack and gave a basketball cap to the police, which was supposedly knocked off from the head of one of the purported assailants. Not long after Barbara's murder, a college student told police that Anderson purchased the hat from him a few days earlier; the red-handled fishing knife used to kill Barbara was also sold to Anderson before the attack. After a five-day search for the purported attackers, police became convinced that Anderson was responsible. Eight days after murdering his wife, Anderson was charged with first-degree murder. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 60 years. In prison, Anderson and cannibalistic serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer got into a discussion with Christopher Scarver after he had read about Dahmer's murders. After the discussion, Scarver retrieved a steel bar from the weight room and struck Dahmer in the head with it, before tracking down Anderson and bludgeoning him with the same steel bar. Anderson died two days later after doctors removed him from life support.
Since Anderson only killed one person the term "M.O." is misused. When he murdered Barbara, Anderson stabbed her several times with a red-handled fishing knife before stabbing himself in the chest, though most of the wounds were superficial. He then blamed two African-American men of attacking him and his wife, hoping he would evade capture by tricking police into searching for the fictional criminals.
- April 21, 1992: Barbara E. Anderson (née Lynch) (his wife; stabbed 21 times; survived, but later died from her wounds)