On Nov. 1, 2007, Meredith Kercher, a British exchange student studying abroad in Italy, was senselessly murdered inside a Perugia cottage. Her Italian flatmates were away celebrating, and her fellow exchange student roommate, Amanda Knox, was out with her boyfriend. On Nov. 2, Italian detectives found Kercher stabbed to death inside her locked bedroom. The crime would end up becoming one the most high-profile crime cases of the century after Knox made worldwide headlines when authorities arrested her for the murder.
Knox’s case likely became so widespread because she was a young and “ordinary” college student who made the Dean’s List and didn’t fit the typical profile of a killer. Further, the evidence against her, according to her defense, was non-existent. Knox’s then-boyfriend, 23-year-old Raffaele Sollecito, was also accused of murdering Kercher. Sollecito, a computer engineering student at the time, had no previous arrests for any crimes.
Regardless of their backgrounds, Italian authorities charged the couple with Kercher’s murder and shipped them off to prison after a 2009 conviction. Knox’s incarceration created a frenzy of anger and outrage, as people across the world demanded for her release. Eventually, Knox’s supporters got their wish when she was released from prison in 2011. In 2013, after she’d already returned to home to Seattle, Washington, Italian authorities officially dropped charges on Knox. In 2015, Italy’s highest court provided a final acquittal and exonerated both Knox and Sollecito.
Yet, the seed of doubt still lingers in the minds of those who questioned Knox’s sincerity due to several key factors in the case. While many people do feel that Knox was coerced into a false confession and wrongfully imprisoned, those on the other side of the coin think justice was robbed when Italian authorities released her.
Originally, Knox told authorities she had been over at Sollecito’s home, on his computer, the night Kercher was murdered. She said they also had dinner, smoked marijuana, had sex, and went to sleep. She claimed that around noon the following day, she returned to the cottage and only realized Kercher was dead when authorities found the victim in her bedroom. However, when investigators examined Sollecito’s computer, they determined it had no traffic at all on the night of the murder.
Further, Knox claimed they slept until around 10:30 a.m. the following morning, but investigators found activity on the computer at around 5:30 a.m. Both Knox and Sollecito turned their phone off the night of the murder, but at 6:30 a.m., cellphone records indicate Sollecito turned his back on. Two witnesses also reported seeing the couple at the crime scene on the night the murder occurred.
Both Sollecito and Knox changed their story when detectives confronted them with the information, although Knox returned to her original version of events. On the other hand, Sollecito told authorities he couldn’t be sure if Knox spent the entire night with him. He later told them that he lied an Knox’s behalf about when he called for help, after authorities provided him with information that showed he only contacted them after the police had arrived.
In 2014, information emerged that surveillance footage caught Knox on camera, or at least someone who looked to be Knox, walking through Peruvia on the night of Nov. 1, although she claimed she never left Sollecito’s apartment. The footage never made it into evidence during the trial.
When Knox was presented with information that Sollecito changed his story and didn’t provide her with an alibi, Knox apparently changed her story as well, and admitted she was in the home when Kercher was murdered. She said her employer, Patrick Lumumba, was also in the cottage. Detectives arrested Lumumba, who spent two weeks in jail before they confirmed his alibi. He was subsequently released. The defense argued that Knox was confused and felt pressured to point the finger at someone.
Authorities reportedly questioned Knox for around 13 hours a day and used “psychological torture” until they pulled out a false confessions. Others contended that this wasn’t true, and Knox actually spent no more than a few hours per day under interrogation. Knox also said she was physically abused during the interrogation, while others present that day denied the accusations. Knox’s family was later accused of hiring a public relations firm to start rumors of abuse, which eventually caught fire with the media.
“They lied to me, shouted at me, threatened me, they slapped me on the head twice,” Knox said in 2013. “They told me that I would never again see my family if I could not remember what happened to Meredith that night.”
Kercher’s Locked Door
When authorities arrived to the cottage the day after the murder, they originally thought they were investigating a burglary. When they found Kercher’s cellphone thrown into a yard, they questioned Knox, who was standing by the cottage door. After Knox announced the cottage had been burglarized, authorities searched the home and found Kercher’s bedroom door locked. Knox apparently told detectives that Kercher’s locked door was not unusual, as she locked it even when she took a shower.
Around the same time, Filomena Romanelli, one of the Italian roommates, returned to the cottage. When she learned Kercher’s door was locked, she panicked and told police that Kercher never locked her bedroom door. After prying the door open, authorities found Kercher murdered. Knox, who claimed she had no idea Kercher had been hurt, allegedly later revealed at the police station that her roommate had been killed close to her closet, something that hadn’t yet been made public.
When authorities told Sollecito that they recovered a knife from his apartment that contained Kercher’s DNA, he said he had her over for dinner and she accidentally cut herself while helping him cook dinner. It was later revealed that Kercher had never once been to Sollecito’s apartment. Defense lawyers argued that the knife found did not match the shape or size of the knife used to stab Mercher.
While at Sollecito’s apartment, detectives also noted an unusually strong odor of bleach. While interviewing his maid, they learned that not only had she never used bleach to clean, but that she was specifically instructed not to do so when she took the job.
Investigators said the found Knox’s DNA “commingled” with Kercher’s DNA in at least five different spots in the cottage, some of which were spotted after authorities sprayed the home with Luminol. Investigators reported that when they sprayed luminol between the kitchen area and Knox’s bedroom, they picked up traces of bloody footprints comparable with both Knox and Sollecito’s prints.
Investigators also alleged they found Sollecito’s DNA on the back of Kercher’s bra strap. The defense argued that the bra strap was tainted and contaminated after being left there around six weeks after the the murder before detectives took it into evidence.
Authorities also found a bloody footprint on a rug inside a bathroom in the cottage. They said the foot pattern matched Sollecito, but it was later determined to belong to a man named Rudy Guede, who was later convicted in a separate trial for Kercher’s murder.
Knox and Sollecito Today
Amanda Knox, now 30, is now on her 6th year of freedom after exoneration from Kercher’s murder. She lives in Washington with her boyfriend, Christopher Robinson. Sollecito, now 31, still lives in Italy. In 2016, he became a “crime expert” on Italy’s Italy’s Tgcom24. Both Knox and Sollecito authored books dealing with their the murder conviction and eventual release.
[Feature Photo: AP/Stefano Medici]