November 2, 2007, Via Della Pergola 7, Perugia, Italy, 10:30am. Amanda Knox, a West Seattleite with ties to Vashon Island, arrives at her apartment; she had hurried home to shower and change, having been gone all night. It was a holiday weekend so she and Raffaele Sollecito, who was waiting at back his apartment, were taking a drive to visit the ancient Roman city of Gubbio.
The front door was standing open when Amanda walked up to the charming Tuscan cottage and as she entered the silent apartment she had no way of knowing that her life had just changed in unimaginable ways.
Thinking one of her roommates had left the door open while taking out the trash, she called out but no one answered. As she secured the door she also considered that someone had accidentally left it unlatched, it had a faulty lock that worked only with a key. Amanda shared the upstairs apartment with Meredith Kercher, a Briton, Filomena Romanelli and Laura Mezzetti, Italians.
Meredith had been alone in the apartment the evening before and it was quiet, so Amanda assumed she was sleeping. She showered and dressed, then used the hair dryer, hoping the noise didn’t rouse her friend, but Meredith’s room remained silent and Amanda left a few minutes later.
In the half-hour or so spent at her apartment, she noticed small things that seemed out of place. The front door was open. In the bathroom she shared with Meredith, there were a few drops of blood on the sink and a stain on the rug that had not been there the day before. And there was an unflushed toilet in the bathroom that Filomena and Laura shared, unusual because they were very neat. Taken separately the oddities seemed unremarkable, she was able to explain each away, but Amanda had a sense of unease that she couldn’t put her finger on.
Just before 11am Lana Elisabettais found a cell phone in her garden and called the Postal Police who retrieved Filomena’s name from the SIM card and traced her to the cottage.
When Amanda returned to Raffaele’s, about 11:30am, she told him of the open front door, tiny drops of blood and unflushed toilet; he suggested calling her roommates, so she called Meredith first, who did not answer, then Filomena. Filomena said that Laura was in Rome and that Amanda should check out the cottage thoroughly; a few minutes later the pair walked back to the cottage.
Upon arriving they discovered a rock has been thrown through Filomena’s window, but Laura’s room is untouched. Meredith’s bedroom door is locked and she doesn’t answer to calls and knocking; Raffaele unsuccessfully tries to force it open.
Amanda called Meredith’s English phone at 12:07pm, but there was no answer. Lana Elisabettais’s daughter hears it ringing in the garden and turns it in to the Postal Police at 12:46pm, a message from “Amanda” is noted. The two phones mystify the women.
In a flurry of 10 phone calls, between 12:08pm and 1pm, Amanda and Filomena call each other several times, Amanda calls both of Meredith’s phones. Raffaele calls his sister Vanessa, who works for the Carabinieri, and she instructs him to call 112 to report the break-in. Amanda calls her mother, Edda Mellas as they wait outside for the Carabinieri to arrive.
No one knows where Meredith is and they’re feeling the first signs of fear.
Just before 1pm the Postal Police arrive, looking for Filomena, and Amanda assumes they are responding to Raffaele's call. She immediately takes them on a brief tour of the premises to show them the broken window and the blood in the bathroom. A short while later Filomena’s boyfriend Marco Zaroli and his friend Luca Alteri arrive followed by Filomena and her friend Paola Grande. There are now eight people at the apartment.
Filomena sees that her laptop was still there, but she lifts a few articles of clothing and shakes the glass off before an officer shoos her out of the room. She then gives Luca permission to brake down Meredith’s door and they move down the narrow hallway followed by the police. Everyone else waits at the end of the hall or in the living room. Just after Luca brakes down the door, Filomena begins screaming “A foot! A foot!”
The postal police send everyone outside; Via Della Pergola 7 is now a crime scene. Meredith Kercher is lying dead on the floor covered with her bedspread, a foot sticking out.
The Carabinieri arrive to find a yard full of people crying and yelling. They cordon off the cottage and the investigation ensues with Public Minister Giuliano Mignini in charge, assisted by Police Chief Arturo De Felice, Homicide Chief Monica Napoleani and Coroner Dr. Luca Lalli. The forensics would be gathered and processed by the Scientific Police and Inspector Edgardo Giobbi is dispatched from Rome to oversee that operation.
The young adults walk around to keep warm, talking quietly about what was happening in the apartment. Amanda is having a hard time following the rapid-fire conversations, she is grief stricken and in shock. The six young adults would be held on scene for several hours and then driven to the police station about 3:30pm for more questioning; Amanda and Raffaele would be released at 3am on November 3rd. At nearly the same time in the Domus disco Rudy Guede, the killer, is seen dancing alone as a moment of silence is held for Meredith Kercher, he will flee Italy a few hours later.
By the end of All Soul’s Day, Amanda’s family would know that someone murdered her roommate and word spread like wildfire in West Seattle and on Vashon Island.
Meredith’s autopsy reveals that there were signs of a struggle; “the girl had a clump of hair in her hand that resembled wool.” The police are now looking for a black man. There were signs of sexual activity before she died, but no confirmation that she was raped. For the next three days the cottage is video taped, photographed and many items will be taken into evidence. Luminal is sprayed in the bathroom and hallway, then police photograph what it reveals. They scrutinize Meredith's diary, laptop and email account in an attempt to track down her killer.
Amanda returns to school to try to reclaim some normalcy, but she has trouble concentrating. She is called in everyday for several hours of questioning by the police and they hear that her mother will be arriving the in the next day or so. Meredith’s British girlfriends are also called back for interviews and their innocent remarks will later be used against Amanda.
On November 5th at 11pm and into the morning of the 6th Amanda and Raffaele will endure the Illegal Interrogations and sign False Confessions. In what the police call “Spontaneous Declarations,” Amanda implicates her employer, Patrick Lumumba, in the murder and signs the confession at 2pm, November 6th.
She has had no sleep for over 24 hours and has been interviewed more than 50 hours in four days. Raffaele’s condition is the same having been subjected to a nearly identical ordeal; both are exhausted and confused by what just happened. Despite Raffaele’s repeated requests to speak to his father and Amanda’s query about calling the American Embassy, neither would be granted the benefit of a parent, university official, lawyer or consular.
The morning of November 6th, Raffaele, Amanda and Patrick are taken into custody for participation in Meredith death, although no charges are filed. The Kercher’s arrive to hear the shocking news that Amanda has been arrested for their daughter’s murder, they identify Meredith’s body and then attend a candlelight vigil.
Edda is in route to Perugia when word comes of Amanda’s arrest; she arrives that evening, but is restricted from seeing Amanda for nearly a week.
During this first week Amanda acted like a naïve Seattle kid, barely out of her teens: she was grieving, crying, swearing, complaining, terrified and silly. Her attempt to show bravado has been scrutinized by Public Minister Mignini and Investigator Giobbi.
Giobbi first became suspicious of Amanda day of the murder when she sobbed uncontrollably at one pint and later acted silly, two days later he saw Amanda and Raffaele eating lunch and decided that she should have been "wrapped in grief in bed, crying, not eating.”
His analysis of her mood swings and erratic behavior meant that she was guilty of murder and not an immature young woman in shock. Heconsidered Amanda culpable before a single piece of evidence was collected and his observations, leaked by Mignini's office, fueled the media frenzy.
Giobbi boasted, “We were able to establish guilt by closely observing the suspect's psychological and behavioral reactions during the interrogations. We don't need to rely on other kinds of investigation (forensics) as this method has enabled us to get to the guilty parties in a very quick time."
Much was made of her relationship with Raffaele, that they were never seen apart and that they had sex. But I say, whoever didn’t have sex, drugs and rock n roll in their 20’s, please raise your hand. That’s what I thought! And Tuscany has been the land of sex, drugs and opera for how many centuries now? Other than noting that ‘the kids spent the night together’ as part of routine questioning, it’s no one’s business what they were doing behind closed doors.
Seriously? These people could make Mother Teresa look like a drug-addled prostitute.
The forensics also raised red flags, it’s noteworthy that Italy was behind the European Union’s collection and processing standards in 2007, but has since adopted them. Because of the CSI Effect, the average American can easily point out the examples of cross-contamination using the online information and a growing number of forensic and law enforcement experts agree with them.
The Murder Scene DNA collected shows that Amanda left none. Zip. Zilch. Nada. As in Not a Trace. Neither did Raffaele until 47 days after the murder when the Bra Clasp, originally under Meredith’s body, was collected from under a dirty rug.
Rudy Guede left an abundant amount of DNA at the murder Scene. Hairs, fibers, fluids and prints. All over Meredith and all over her bedroom.
The police used a clean kitchen knife from Raffaele’s apartment to tie Amanda to the murder, they knew that she used this particular knife to prepare meals at Raffaele’s from the 50-some hours of interviews. This Double DNA Knife should never have been admitted into evidence in Perugia; a Roman court would have thrown it out.
The police also contend that Amanda and Raffaele staged the Break-in through Filomena’s bedroom window, but the defense points out that Rudy Guede was a practiced and documented Second-Story Man. The computer hard drives were ‘destroyed’ by a police ‘expert’ and are still kept from independent review. Eyewitness accounts are also being proved by the defense to be impossible or unreliable.
In my opinion all three families, Kercher, Knox and Sollecito, are victims of grievous and tragic mistakes at the hands of a few people in the Italian judicial system.
Rudy Guede’s coddling by the local police resulted in a sparkling young life being snuffed out, then two more stolen for the sake of vanity and avarice by the very authorities that turned the blind eye.
It is now left to the Knox and Sollectio families to fight for their children and it is left to their family and friends to support them. Through donations to their legal defense at AmandaDefenseFund.org or RaffaeleSollectio.org we offset the crippling drain on their finances. We say a simple prayer for Fair Play.
And we speak out on their behalf.