Headsup: The first 8 episodes of the RAI/HBO production "My Brilliant Friend" about a supreme alpha-girl and her "moon" of a best friend airing in 60-plus countries are proving amazingly endearing. So many colorful elements of evolving post WWII Italy on display. Yes, some violence too, but peanuts compared to say New York in that era. A real must-see.

Series Hoaxes Sollecito etc

Friday, May 29, 2009

DNA Evidence: The Myths Start To Come Crashing Down

Posted by Nicki

[click for larger image; rule and annotations by Kermit]


The DNA evidence is proving to be as well-handled and as incriminating as DNA evidence ever is at such trials.

The last two hearings have very publicly exposed several of the key myths which have been aggressively propagated over the Internet and through other media for many months.

Let’s first speak about the double knife DNA. It has now become pretty obvious that:

  • It doesn’t match half of Italy as falsely claimed
  • It doesn’t have a 20% chance of being Meredith’s as falsely claimed
  • Stefanoni never declared herself that the DNA “was unreliable” as falsely claimed
  • The DNA has not been amplified “500 times” as falsely claimed

Patrizia Stefanoni has not stated that Meredith’s DNA was extracted 500 times from the knife sample, as some people with what seemed a google-level knowledge of molecular biology were claiming to muddy the waters.

The DNA was actually extracted 50 times from Meredith’s specimens and was used to compare it to other biological traces, including the one found on the knife. And it provided the forensic team with good samples to be compared to the traces found on the knife.

Two genetic profiles are identical and therefore belong to the same individual if a) they are in the same position, and b) they have identical shape and dimension. In this case, each peak produced in the original samples exactly corresponds to the peaks yielded by the knife sample, position, shape and dimension… Say so long to the “matching half of Italy” myth!

Furthermore, Stefanoni excluded any possibility of contamination in the lab, stating that it had never once occurred in her lab for at least the last seven years, and every precaution was taken in order to exclude possibility of contamination so that different traces are not mixed. 

Contamination during the collection phase was also excluded: the forensic team that found the knife was a different one from those who searched the cottage, so how could Meredith’s DNA possibly have been “transferred to the knife”? 

Furthermore, the knife was put in a shoe box after it was bagged, and it stayed there until it reached the lab. And once again… DNA doesn’t fly, it doesn’t creep, and it sure doesnt penetrate a plastic bag!

Now let’s speak about the bra clasp.

The DNA found on the clasp has been defined as abundant and identified as belonging to Sollecito without any doubt. It should have been collected earlier in the process, but DNA evidence is often collected weeks or months after the crime when an object involved is unearthed.

The chances that it has been contaminated are at zero: the sample was found under the pillow on November 2, during the first search, and collected on December 18th when the second search took place by a different team.

During this entire time, the clasp was laying on the floor of what has been testified to have been a completely sealed crime scene. So when and how could any contamination occur?

Excluding a spontaneous migration of Sollecito ‘s DNA on the clasp from some unidentified location in the murder room or in the cottage, it could have only taken place during either the first or the second handling of the sample, so the fact that the clasp was recovered weeks later really bears no relevance.

And additionally, where could any abundant amount of Sollecito ‘s biological matter come from, if besides that on the bra clasp, the DNA corresponding to his genetic profile was only found on a cigarette butt? 

Perhaps this is why Sollecito’s lawyer Ms Buongiorno is now claiming that the bra clasp was contaminated in the laboratory. She is reduced to having to claim that in effect Dr Stefanoni applies strict laboratory procedures when testing Guede‘s or other peoples’ specimens, but somehow miserably fails when the samples belong to Sollecito and Knox.

Finally, let’s not forget that Rudy Guede’s DNA was not found “all over” the victim, but only on the right side of her bra, on the left cuff of her jumper, and inside her body. If passive transfer of DNA is so easy to happen, and if Guede is the only one who physically attacked Meredith, how comes his DNA was found only in these three places on the victim’s body?

DNA is NOT easy to transfer. Dr Stefanoni is absolutely correct when she says that “transfer of DNA must not be taken for granted nor it is easy to happen, and more likely to take place if the original trace is aqueous, not if it is dry”.

About the possibility of contamination having taken place in the lab, this is a risk that everyone working with PCR is well aware of. It is certainly not probable that it could occur every time a biological sample is tested. In fact, it is very unlikely to happen when the routine strict precautions are taken.

And there is no doubt that Dr Stefanoni was extremely cautious when handling any of these samples. 

I can see the reason for the improbable reach of the defense teams: since their clients deny any involvement, the positive DNA results “must” be contaminated - what else could they possibly say? Regarding this evidence, it is the only argument that they have available.

Finally, Dr Stefanoni has an international reputation and is considered one of the best in the field today. Questioning her credentials really makes no sense at all. But those too have come under attack.

Edited to add: On the issue of DNA transfer, from today’s hearing (La Nazione)

“The contamination theory has been discussed again today: Ms Bongiorno repeatedly asked the forensic witnesses information regarding the techniques used to collect the samples found in Meredith’s house, but PM Manuela Comodi showed the Court that contamination did not occurr by asking the forensic witnesses: “Using the same gloves, you have touched the victim’s socks after working on other samples. Could you tell me what the result of the sock analyses was?”

The witness answered:  “No foreign DNA nor genetic traces have been found”. Another demonstration that DNA passive transfer just doesn’t occur so easily.  Differently, the probabilities of obtaining a contaminated sample would be so high that DNA testing would hardly be of any use in crime investigations.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Puzzle Of The Cell Phones: Was Rudy Doomed From The Start?

Posted by Arnold_Layne


Current thinking is that about a year after the three were arrested, Rudy Guede’s team decided to request a fast-track trial because his team thought Knox and Sollecito might craft a defense that made Guede appear more guilty. 

After he was convicted, defense supporters of course seized upon his conviction as the basis for the “lone wolf theory”.  It is possible, however, that Guede’s defense team was more correct all along than they might have realized - that he really was being set up.

What did Knox and Sollecito actually have planned?  Admittedly Sollecito had his knife fetish, and Knox’s sexuality was, well, you know.  But since none had committed any violent crimes in the past, it is unlikely that they planned to commit one quite so significant as a murder at this point. 

Contrary to what I had previously thought, Mignini may also be correct in his game theory.  Their plan might have been to coerce Meredith into having sex with someone.  If they couldn’t “talk her into it” they planned on intimidating her with the very large knife they brought along.

There is an inconsistency in the various scenarios that have been put forth.  In one scenario, all three came to the cottage intending to physically harm Meredith, and that is why they brought the knife and turned their cell phones off.  This doesn’t really make much sense because, for a murder, or even an assault with a knife, it was incredibly poorly planned. 

Additionally, and more importantly, none of these people had a criminal past and so it is unlikely they would plan on committing quite such a horrible crime.

Another scenario, which is along Mignini’s lines, is that the three planned to use the knife only to intimidate Meredith into doing what they wanted – which was to get involved in a sex act with Guede by coercing and threatening her.  This activity could be considered a sex game. 

If the terrifying trio had planned on going to see Meredith merely to play a game, then why did Sollecito and Knox turn their cell phones off?

They must have realized that there was a possibility that what they were setting out to do could end poorly.  If Meredith went along with what they planned, all would be okay.  Hopefully, she’d be a good sport when it was over.  If this is how it played out, there would have been no need to turn their cell phones off. 

But on the other hand, if she wasn’t a good sport, and called the police, they would be able to move to Plan B: blame Rudy, and deny that they were even there.  Turning their cell phones off fits with this outcome.

What this all suggests is that Rudy Guede really might have been set up. 

He clearly would have left evidence of a sexual attack; but the two others, not so much.  In fact, they may have planned to set Rudy up before they even asked him to participate.  Their plan right from the start might have been to bring in a third person to take the fall if things didn’t go well.

So Sollecito and Knox might have planned a plausible sequence of events as an alibi in which Guede would be the only perp and they could be at Sollecito’s smoking hash and watching Internet movies. 

So they needed someone who the police could easily accuse of the crime, and Rudy Guede filled the bill.

Why did they turn their cell phones off if they were only going to play a game?  I think they had already planned to get a bit more serious, and to implicate Guede as the perp.


Friday, May 01, 2009

Underlying All Scenarios: The Organised Versus The Disorganised Offender?

Posted by Miss Represented




An Overview

This post is cross-posted here from my own website.

The recent 48 Hours mystery show once again attempted to lend credibility to the virtually laughable lone wolf theory. Despite its inaccuracies it seems fairly clear that the friends and family of Amanda Knox in all likelihood encouraged the 48 Hours show to air before the presentation of the crucial DNA evidence shortly to be discussed in court.

Timing is after all everything and it may have been the last time anyone would actually take the show seriously, especially considering the main theme of the show boiled down to the simply ludicrous suggestion that Amanda Knox is somehow a victim in this case and the lone wolf theory is still a credible and valid scenario for what happened that night. For those of you who are still unaware of precisely what that means, it is the idea that Rudy Guede scaled a virtually un-climbable wall and crawled in through a window of the cottage in order to sexually assault and murder Meredith Kercher.

Many following the case long ago dismissed the theory as fantasy, even Guede himself who in his statements to police and diaries admits he was not the only person in the cottage that night. Yet we must also consider that this is virtually the only scenario that the defence can now use to exonerate Amanda and Raffaele as they both strenuously deny any involvement in Meredith’s murder.

Despite the physical evidence suggesting their possible role, copious amounts of physical evidence of Guede’s involvement was found at the crime scene and a smaller amount of evidence leading to the defendants. The defence maintain this is the result of contamination and the abundance of his fingerprints and DNA suggests Guede and Guede alone killed Meredith. The prosecution allege that both Amanda and Raffaele were present in the cottage the night Meredith was killed and that once Guede had fled, a well organised and methodical clean up took place to conceal any physical evidence linking them to the crime scene. Unsurprisingly plenty of Guede’s DNA and fingerprints were left for investigators to find.

I discussed the lone wolf theory a few months ago, but as I have often found with this case, new information, ideas and personal reflection often encourages me to revisit important areas in more detail or with a slightly different perspective. I have decided to take a fresh look at this theory and explain why it is completely at odds with current psychology research and how evidence available about the set up and implementation of the crime further discredit this theory as a possibility. I have decided to write this at what is possibly the most crucial part of the trial proceeding so far: The presentation of the physical evidence linking Amanda and Raffaele to the murder of Meredith Kercher.

The Organised vs. Disorganised Offender

Although the definition of homicide is reasonably clear cut, the definition of sexual homicide is much more ambiguous. There are several clear differences seen in sexual murders: Firstly the idea that killing itself is sexually arousing, secondly that the murder is carried out in order to cover up a sexual crime and finally that the offence is a homicide that has some sexual component, but in which the exact motivational dynamics remain unclear (Schlesinger, 2007). The latter seems to be the most likely scenario in this case, despite the definition being slight ambiguous it does seem clear that the murder of Meredith Kercher was a sex related homicide, possibly with a rape/sodomy motivation.

According to ‘The Handbook of Psychological Approaches with Violent Offenders’, the organised vs. disorganised crime scene characterisation of sexual homicide offenders provides a useful insight into these types of crime (Ressler et al, 1986). Clues left at the crime scene can often indicate possible personality characteristics or clues about those involved, as can the nature of the offence, the way it was planned and executed.

The organised offender

Crimes committed by an organised offender are often carefully planned and executed, there is often evidence suggesting the offender brought with them items necessary to commit the crime (such as rope or tape to bind and silence the victim), especially those that might ensure they are able to fulfil certain needs or fantasies through the act of committing the crime. There is often evidence of careful planning and as a result these offenders are usually harder to catch as they are careful about leaving trace evidence behind.

The disorganised offender

A disorganised offender on the other hand often leaves a chaotic scene behind with evidence suggesting a spontaneous or unplanned attack with very little prior planning or pre preparation. The staging of a crime scene often occurs as a direct result of a spontaneous disorganised offence and is usually spotted by investigating officers as the resulting scene is conflicted and full of red flags. By their very nature, organised offenders have no need to stage a scene as theoretically they perceive to have prepared sufficiently to avoid detection in other ways. Disorganised offenders will often stage a crime scene to cover the spontaneity of the act and the inevitable fear of being caught.

The murder of Meredith Kercher

The evidence available so far indicates that this was a disorganised offence. The crime scene photos that have been released show a messy and chaotic scene, clothes all over the floor and blood everywhere. Evidence of staging also indicates a disorganised offence as does the alleged clean up attempt. Despite the evidence suggesting a certain amount of premeditation with the murder weapon having been taken from Raffaele’s apartment to the cottage, there is no way of proving that the intention was to kill Meredith with this knife therefore we cannot necessarily conclude this was an organised offence based solely on this information. Similarly, injuries sustained by the victim also suggest she was forcibly held and that some attempt was made to silence her, yet if we are to conclude this was an organised offence, surely the offender would have brought something with which to bind and/or gag the victim?

This does not seem to be the case but rather a spontaneous group attack that resulted in a violent and chaotic murder with a subsequent panicked attempt at concealing the truth about what had happened. This leads me to conclude that the murder of Meredith Kercher is an example of a disorganised sexual homicide. None of the group had any history of violence which can in part be explained by a group dynamic. Unsurprisingly, research indicates that 64% of first time violent sexual homicides can be classified as disorganised.

Further Confusion

Despite certain pieces of evidence suggesting that this was a disorganised offence, there are elements of the crime that do not fit this conclusion. Meredith was almost certainly sexually assaulted whilst she was still alive, an attempt was made to restrain her and evidence from a break down truck driver suggests that Raffaele’s Audi may have been in the driveway of the cottage that night. Sexual assault on a live victim, evidence of restraint and evidence suggesting an offender may have driven to the scene of the crime are all associated with organised offenders. This coupled with the suggestion that the murder weapon may have been taken to the crime scene rather confuses a possible classification of a disorganised offence

As I have said many times with these types of theory and research based pieces, no theory is ever perfect especially one as reductionist as the organised/disorganised offender. This theory has been criticised for these reasons in the past. Despite this, many profilers and police officers find these sorts of classifications useful and can usually see evidence pointing to one type or another.

I believe this theory is perhaps too simplistic as it does not take into account the involvement of one or more persons in a violent sexual homicide. The slight confusion we have already seen in typology and classification of violence, added to this new confusion about whether this was an organised or disorganised offence only serves to encourage my belief that several motives, ideas and schemas about ‘how to humiliate/wind-up/hurt Meredith’ may have come into play that night. I have already suggested the possibility that there may have been a sadist in the room as well as very different motives for each of the individuals involved. The idea that certain elements of the crime are organised whilst others are disorganised not only encourages the idea that more than one person was involved but also suggests that at least one group member was firmly out of the loop.

The Blitz Attack

If Rudy Guede really had been a lone wolf killer, apart from the evidence suggesting that the break in was staged, he would almost certainly be a disorganised offender. Aside from the abundance of his DNA and fingerprints left at the scene, there are certain things we would expect to see from a lone disorganised offender that do not seem to be evident in this case.

Firstly, disorganised offenders often feel inadequate and their attacks are usually sexual in nature. These types of assailants, especially those with the intention of sexually assaulting or raping the victim, will often approach the victim from behind and due to the spontaneous nature of these offences they will usually initiate what’s known as a blitz attack. The blitz attack is primarily concerned with ensuring the victim is unable to resist or fight usually because the offender doubts their own ability to subdue the victim. The most common method of ensuring compliance is to render the victim unconscious. Unfortunately due to the amount of force employed when administering blows to (often) the head, the victim usually suffers horrendous blunt force injuries which more often than not result in serious injury or death. Meredith had no such injuries and any injuries she did sustain came much later than the initial attack.

If we are to conclude that Rudy Guede was a typical lone, first time, disorganised killer we can surely conclude he would have participated in this style of ambush, after all in one study 82% of young offenders who engaged in sexual attacks of this nature did so by initiating a blitz attack on their victims. Similarly the lone wolf theory suggests that Guede climbed through a window in order to access Meredith when he could quite easily have knocked on the door and pounced or at least chosen a method of entry that was easier and less noisy. If we are to accept the lone wolf theory as credible then we must also accept that by climbing through the window, Rudy Guede was aiming to surprise Meredith by initiating an attack to subdue, sexually assault and kill her yet the evidence suggests no such blitz attack ever took place and that the victim was very much conscious throughout most if not all of her ordeal.

The injuries sustained by Meredith are concrete, unchangeable and unchallengeable. These injuries cannot be manipulated or denied to suit. Meredith sustained defensive knife injuries to her hands in what the medical examiner likely concluded was an attempt to fight off an attack from a person standing in front of her brandishing a knife. Victims of disorganised offenders especially those that adopt the element of surprise (as the lone wolf theory suggests by insinuating Rudy climbed through the window), very rarely have defensive injuries suggesting a struggle, Meredith had several including various bruises.

Similarly research about these types of offenders indicates they often mutilate the victim by cutting or slashing the breasts, face, abdomen and genital area. Meredith sustained no post mortem mutilation. These types of offenders will often sexually assault or rape the victim after death, the medical examiner has stated he believes Meredith was in all likelihood sexually assaulted before she was seriously injured and later killed, this itself indicates some kind of restraint would have been necessary,yet this type of behaviour is not associated with disorganised offenders. The victims of certain sexual homicides often suffer injuries consistent with those found on Meredith’s body, injuries such as evidence of manual strangulation and those consistent with overkill, yet the injuries sustained by the victim do not fit the current theory of what we would expect to find in a lone, first time disorganised offender like Rudy Guede also he had no history of violence.

The crime reconstruction and evidence from injuries sustained by the victim suggests she was ambushed rather than blitzed. This in itself could suggest a planned attack, a sudden burst of ‘group’ anger or an escalation of a previously planned event.

I have previously spoken about how three people with no history of violence could easily be just as, if not more violent than a single individual with a history of violence. I still maintain that Rudy Guede would be extremely unlikely to commit this sort of violent offence alone and without provocation or consultation with anyone else. The same questions remain, why did he choose Meredith? How did he know she would be alone?

These are all questions that are never likely to be answered. This theory quite simply does not fit. It will never fit because it didn’t actually happen and insinuating that it did not only makes the 48 hours show and everyone associated with it look incredibly stupid, it also attempts to challenge an awful lot of literature and an awful lot of people, much smarter and more knowledgeable than I that will tell you exactly the same thing. Rudy Guede has not, will not and will never be proven a lone wolf killer.

A Toilet Break?

If we are to believe that Rudy Guede was a lone wolf, so overcome by lust for Meredith he broke into her house in order to rape and or kill her then we’d have almost certainly seen further evidence of sexual activity. So far the sexual assault Meredith suffered seemed to have been abandoned at some point, a point I believe Rudy ‘bottled it’ and, possibly due to excitement, fear or drugs, headed for the toilet. These sorts of actions in a lone offender do not make sense. Something spooked him that’s for sure and if he had been a lone offender there is absolutely no way he’d have left his victim in a position to escape or alert the police by going to the toilet in the middle of the attack.

Rudy admits to being at the cottage the night Meredith was killed and maintains he was on the toilet after eating a spicy Kebab when someone came into the house and stabbed Meredith. He claims to have tried to help her and then became scared and ran away. I don’t need to tell you that most of this story is what one judge accurately described as a ‘highly improbable fantasy’ yet his faeces was found in the toilet the next day indicating that he had at some point gone to the toilet. Some people believe that Rudy Guede’s version of events, despite being absurd do actually have some basis in truth as he has the awful habit of attempting to explain away things he knows the investigating officers can incriminate him with.

Like the faeces he left in the toilet for example. Rudy’s own version of events actually explains that he rushed off the toilet, had a confrontation with the killer and tried to help Meredith by stemming the flow of blood with towels, allegedly two blood soaked towels were found at the crime scene. With this in mind we could consider that Rudy became overly excited or scared during the attack, resulting in the need to visit the toilet, we could also suggest he was in the toilet before Meredith was killed. It seems highly likely that as the faeces was found in the toilet and Rudy attempted to explain it that he actually used the bathroom before Meredith was killed and certainly before he fled the cottage, after all I doubt he would hang around to use the loo after the piercing scream and the resulting knife wound, as Brian S explains in his theory, probably caused them all to flee. If the lone wolf theory is to be believed, doesn’t it seem a bit odd that Guede would be sat on the loo whilst the victim was left to her own devices? I think a far more likely scenario is that Guede was not alone in the cottage that night, Amanda and Raffaele were ‘taking care of Meredith’ while he dashed to the loo.

The Neck

I am still struggling to understand exactly how all three came to be present in the cottage that night and the exact sequence of events that led to the attack on Meredith. Arnold Layne recently put forward an excellent possible scenario as did Brian S, both can be found on TJMK.

Some evidence such as the knife and possibly Raffaele’s car in the driveway suggests an element of planning, yet other factors suggest it was anything but, as the crime itself seems rather disorganised. There certainly seem to be a number of fantasies coming through, specifically hinting at one or more of those involved gaining some kind of enjoyment in watching the victim suffer and, due to the nature of the injuries some possible fantasies linked to the victims neck.

Meredith sustained several neck injuries consistent with being manually strangled, cut with a knife before being fatally stabbed. The crime reconstruction has one of the defendants holding Meredith from behind, the other to the side holding her head up and exposing the neck with the third member of the group attacking with the knife.

So what is this apparent fascination with the neck? If they’d wanted to ensure the victim did not scream why not attempt to use a rudimentary gag such as a cloth or a sock? Though many have suggested that the neck injuries were specifically inflicted to ensure the victim didn’t scream it could (and this is where it gets pretty distressing) also be suggested that the attackers wanted to hear poor Meredith plead and beg for her life, they probably hadn’t counted on her screaming.

Any sex related homicide will usually reveal something that has a special kind of significance for the killer. I believe this may have been Meredith’s neck. They could have silenced her in any number of ways yet I believe they chose not to and underestimated her capacity to scream, it was in all likelihood her final scream, heard by a witness, that may have encouraged the fatal ‘panic blow’. It could be suggested that as this was possibly a panic blow, that the offenders had not yet finished ‘playing’ with Meredith, her final scream may have sadly sealed her fate but also ensured her suffering was not prolonged further.

Before she was fatally injured the medical examiner also determined that Meredith had been strangled. This attempt was clearly unsuccessful. According to this report:

“Only eleven pounds of pressure placed on both carotid arteries for ten seconds is necessary to cause unconsciousness.4 How-ever, if pressure is released immediately, consciousness will be regained within ten seconds. To completely close off the trachea, three times as much pressure (33 lbs.) is required. Brain death will occur in 4 to 5 minutes, if strangulation persists”

As Meredith was still very much alive when she was stabbed it could be suggested that whoever tried to strangle her, could not complete the act or believed they already had. Strangulation is more closely associated with sexual homicide than other injuries present. Most offenders who engage in strangulation apply the wrong type of pressure, use an incorrect and not yet perfected ‘technique’ especially if they are using their hands, I can imagine it’s very difficult to strangle someone if you don’t know what you are doing and especially if they are kicking and resisting. Meredith may have temporarily lost conscious, regained it and attempted to break free. This may have been the critical moment when the assailants decided to fatally injure her with the knife but not before she was taunted viciously.

Evidence available about the manner in which Meredith died suggests not only a vicious group attack but an apparent fascination with a specific area of her body upon which she sustained injuries above and beyond what was necessary to subdue or kill. This apparent fascination with Meredith’s neck could indicate the role of certain fantasies or schemas about ‘how to kill someone’. It seems odd that the assailants specifically chose to focus on her neck, after all stab wounds to the heart or abdomen are just as fatal. What was it about Meredith’s neck that provoked the injuries she sustained? I’m afraid we will never know but it is an important point to consider especially if we are to conclude that sexual fantasy may have played a role in her death.

The Two Stages of the Motive

If we consider that the murder itself was not premeditated we could also consider the motive in two different stages, this is not to suggest they are not inextricably linked as they inevitably are, however it’s a lot harder to consider the motive for the murder when attempting to understand not only the complex group dynamic but the crime as a whole. The initial motive for the attack on Meredith is still unclear. It may seem difficult to separate these two but when we do it becomes a little easier to understand.

At some stage and for whatever reason Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede ended up at 7 Via Della Pergola. They may have been high, they may have been sober or they may have intended to scare Meredith, initiate a group sex activity, even commit an act of violence. Though it may seem ridiculous to suggest this is unimportant, it really is the case. The crime scene evidence suggests the involvement of all three and though clarity and closure for the family would be ideal I fear we will never really know how or why this attack started. So it follows that we must study the trail of evidence left both at the crime scene and on the victim’s body itself. The evidence put forward so far suggests that if the plan was not to kill Meredith that night that the motive of the group may have suddenly changed at a critical point.

At one point the motive of the group changed and although the motive for the initial attack seems unclear, the motive for the later stage of the attack is not. At one point it changed from the sexual assault, argument or game, to killing Meredith.

This became the primary motive of one or all members of the group, why else would Meredith have been so viciously strangled? Why did this not kill her? Why was the attempt at strangulation abandoned in favour of the more intrusive method which caused the injury she sustained to the neck that later caused her death? Why were the group so determined to kill Meredith Kercher?

That part at least is probably easily explainable. She knew them, she could identify them and the attack had already gone so far they knew that letting her get out alive would almost certainly mean serving a long jail sentence. They decided to silence her forever. They cut her throat, took her mobile phones, locked her in her bedroom and left her to die. Later having realised the chaos and incriminating evidence left behind, two of them returned to begin the clean-up and staging of the crime scene, the other went to dance the night away.

This is why, with the evidence available so far that I believe the right people are on trial for their role in the senseless and brutal murder of Meredith Kercher. If any of you are coming here for the first time having watched the 48 hours show I implore you to seek out more information. The show barely touched the surface of how brutal and cruel the murder of poor Meredith actually was and hopefully with the aid of a little psychology theory I have successfully achieved my objective of showing how, aside from merely the physical evidence suggesting it is in fact an impossible scenario, the lone wolf theory has no credibility and doesn’t make any sense in the real world.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Understanding Why The DNA Is On The Knife

Posted by Peter Quennell

[click for larger image]




Our DNA poster Nicki has been careful not to exaggerate the impact as evidence of the DNA on the knife found in Sollecito’s apartment.

She accepts that in the eyes of the court there could be question marks over the size of the sample and the fact that the tests could not be repeated.

However, as the knife appeared to have been thoroughly cleaned with bleach, some remain intrigued that any DNA at all was found.

Here is a short piece explaining why. This article by Juliet Lapidos was posted on the Slate site in November 2007. But we haven’t seen better, and it is still often referred to.

Slate 20 Nov 2007
How To Clean a Bloody Knife: Does DNA come off with soap and water?
By Juliet Lapidos NYTimes Staff Writer

Investigators in Perugia, Italy, have found new evidence linking a 20-year-old American exchange student, Amanda Knox, to the brutal stabbing death of her roommate, British student Meredith Kercher. According to the latest reports, Knox and her Italian boyfriend, Raphael Sollecito, cleaned the alleged murder weapon—an 8-inch black-handled kitchen knife—with bleach. Nevertheless, police discovered Kercher’s DNA on the tip and Knox’s DNA by the handle. Is it possible to clean DNA off a knife?

Yes, if you know what you’re doing. Knox and Sollecito were on the right track: Bleach contains sodium hypochlorite, an extremely corrosive chemical that can break the hydrogen bonds between DNA base pairs and thus degrade or “denature” a DNA sample. In fact, bleach is so effective that crime labs use a 10 percent solution (one part commercial bleach to nine parts water) to clean workspaces (PDF) so that old samples don’t contaminate fresh evidence. Likewise, when examining ancient skeletal remains (PDF), researchers first douse the remains in diluted bleach to eliminate modern DNA from the surface of bones or teeth.
Advertisement

So, why did Knox and Sollecito’s bleaching gambit fail? It’s difficult to swab a knife thoroughly. Dried blood can stick to the nooks and crannies in a wood handle, to the serrated edge of a blade, or become lodged in the slit between the blade and the hilt. With help from a Q-tip, it’s possible to eliminate most stains, but what’s not visible to the naked eye might still be visible to a microscope, and sophisticated crime labs need only about 10 cells to build a DNA profile.

Bleach is perhaps the most effective DNA-remover (though evidently no methodology is failsafe), but it’s not the only option. Deoxyribonuclease enzymes, available at biological supply houses, and certain harsh chemicals, like hydrochloric acid, also degrade DNA strands. It’s even possible to wipe a knife clean of DNA-laden hair follicles, saliva, and white blood cells with generic soap and warm water. The drawback to this last method is that the tell-tale cells don’t just disappear once off the knife. They linger on sponges, in drains, and even in sink traps, where wily investigators search for trace evidence.

There appears to be a great deal more DNA evidence than merely what is on the knife, of course, and early in the trial the known luminol-evidence universe also expanded.

The court was told that AK-sized and RS-sized footprints appeared under luminol on the floor of Filomena’s room.

Nicki’s two Powerpoints on the DNA can be seen here and here and Kermit’s Powerpoint (pre the new evidence) on the luminol can be seen here.


Saturday, April 04, 2009

Newsweek Interviews The Kercher Family Lawyer Francesco Maresca

Posted by Peter Quennell


Click above for another fine report by Barbie Nadeau.

Ms Nadeau is one of only two Rome-based Amercan reporters (the other is Andrea Vogt, see post below) on the case. In contrast, there are half a dozen British reporters on the case, at least one (Nick Pisa for Sky News) with a cameraman, and there are rarely less than several dozen Italian reporters.

This report nicely positions where we are now in the course of the trail.

Now, 17 months after Kercher’s brutal murder, the theatrics are over. The two judges and six jurors are finally getting to the meat of the trial: the scientific evidence.

Experts say it will make all the difference in this case against 21-year-old Amanda Knox and 25-year-old Raffaele Sollecito, who stand accused of sexual assault and murder.

Francesco Maresca, the attorney representing the Kercher family, equates the prosecution’s case so far to preparing a fine meal. “Up to this point, we have seen the equivalent of the side dishes,” Maresca told NEWSWEEK in his office in Florence. “From this point we will start to see the real substance”...

With the theatrics now out of the way, this scientific evidence will finally bring the circumstances of this murder into better focus. The prosecution has always maintained that Knox, Sollecito and Guede tried to initiate a sex game that went awry.

Maresca says that while he is sure the accused did not go into Kercher’s room with the intent to kill her, there is ample evidence proving that what started as a game ended in her tragic murder.

“Kids this age are all into quick thrills,” he told NEWSWEEK. “What started as a threat or a game to scare Mez escalated to violence and ended in murder.”

We suspect that here, Mr Maresca may be reflecting what the Kerchers also think: that nobody in the world would have knowingly set out to murder someone so precious as Meredith.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Understanding Micheli #3: How Damning Is The DNA Evidence Coming Up?

Posted by Nicki





Probable answer? Pretty damning.

Judge Micheli has had two very important roles. He presided over Rudy Guede’s trial and sentencing, and he presided over the final hearing that committed Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox to trial.

Late January, Judge Micheli made public the 106-page report that explains the thinking behind both actions. These posts are examining several very key areas of the report so that we too may choose whether to buy into the rationales.

The trial to establish the truth about the murder of Meredith continues next Friday. As we’ve reported, various human witnesses have already been heard from: the Postal Police who discovered Meredith’s body, Meredith’s two Italian roommates, and her seven British friends.

Coming up soon is a more silent witness, one very important to both the prosecution and the two defenses: the DNA evidence.

Specifically the DNA belonging to Meredith, Knox, Sollecito, and Guede which was found at the scene of the crime, and on the suspected murder weapon found, apparently hidden, in Raffaele Sollecito’s house.

Traces of Meredith’s DNA have been found on a knife compatible with the wounds that caused her death. Amanda Knox ‘s genetic material was identified on the knife handle. DNA belonging to Sollecito has been found on the clasp of the victim’s bra. And more DNA showing Rudy Guede’s genetic profile was found on the victim’s body and elsewhere in the house.

In summary, the biological sources and locations where DNA belonging to the three defendants was found are these:

  • Guede’s DNA (from epithelial cells) was found inside Meredith, on toilet paper, on the right side of Meredith’s bra, mixed with Meredith’s DNA on the her purse zip, and on the left cuff of Meredith’s light blue sweater
  • Sollecito’s DNA (from epithelial cells) was found on Meredith’s bra clasp, mixed with Meredith’s DNA, and on one cigarette butt found in the kitchen
  • Knox’s DNA (from epithelial cells) was found on the knife sheath, and close to the blade junction. It was not possible to ascertain both the haematic and epithelial source of Meredith’s DNA on the knife blade, due to the scarcity of the sample. But Judge Micheli noted that reasonable doubt persist that blood could have been present also.
  • Other significant biological traces belonging to Meredith - for example, DNA originating from the blood-trace footprints revealed by luminol found in Filomena’s bedroom, as already reported at trial.

Claims of contamination and “poor matches” of the DNA samples were raised by the Sollecito and Knox defenses, although not by Guede’s. The DNA expert Dr. Stefanoni’s arguments in reply to the defenses’ claims are summarized in Judge Micheli‘s report.
 
Dr Stefanoni reported that the locus ascribable to Meredith and identified on the knife blade shows readings of 41 and 28 RFU. Conventionally, RFU values lower than 50 can be defined as low. But she maintained that the profile matched Meredith’s by explaining that there is no immediate correlation between the height of the peaks obtained by electropherogram and expressed in RFU, and the reliability of the biological investigation.

In fact “even if statistically - in most cases - the RFU data is directly proportional to the possibility of a certain interpretation of the analysis result, on the other side many cases of high peaks of difficult interpretation exist (because of background noises), as well as low peaks that are objectively unquestionable, hence the need to proceed to the examination of data that is apparently scarce, but that mustn’t be considered unreliable per se.”

*The use of multiplex PCR and fluorescent dye technology in the automated detection and analysis of short tandem repeat loci provides not only qualitative information about the profile - i.e. which alleles are present - but can provide also quantitative information on the relative intensities of the bands, and is therefore a measure of the amount of amplified DNA.”

So if on one side Dr Stefanoni admits that the RFU readings are low, on the other her experience suggests that many cases of unquestionable matches exist showing readings lower than 50 RFU, and this appears to be the case with Meredith’s DNA sample on the knife.

Contamination in the laboratory is categorically excluded by Dr Stefanoni. The samples were processed with maximum care in order to avoid any contamination during lab procedures. Contamination during the collection phase is excluded by Judge Micheli, as the samples were collected by different officers at different times in different places (example Via della Pergola at 9:40am on Nov 6. 2007, and Sollecito’s apartment at 10:00am, on the same day, by a different ILE team).

As for Sollecito’s DNA found on the bra clasp, the match is unquestionable, according to the lab reports. Samples from crime scenes very often contain genetic material from more than one person (e.g. Rudy Guede’s DNA has been identified in a mixture with the victim’s DNA in a few places), and well-known recommendations and protocols exist in order to de-convolute mixed samples into single genetic profiles.

So if the lab reports indicate that unquestionable biological evidence of Sollecito’s DNA was found on the bra clasp, at the present time we have no reason to believe that these recommendations weren’t followed and that therefore the reports are not to be trusted.

As to cells “flying around” depositing themselves – and their DNA content - here and there around the murder scene, there have been some imaginative theories advanced, to say the least.

The reality though is that although epithelial cells do shed, they don’t sprout little wings to flock to one precise spot, nor grow feet to crawl and concentrate on a piece of evidence. There needs to be some kind of pressure on a surface in order to deposit the amount of biological material necessary to yield a reliable PCR analysis result. A simple brushing will not do. 

As a matter of fact, Dr Stefanoni agreed with Guede’s defense that Guede‘s genetic material found on the left sleeve of Meredith’s blouse was minimal; and this was because the DNA found there belonged to the victim and was not a mixture. In the situation where there is a clear disproportion between quantitative data of two DNA’s coexisting in a biological trace, the PCR will amplify the most abundant DNA.

As agreed by Dr. Stefanoni and Guede’s defense, the conclusion here was that on the left sleeve there was plenty of Meredith’s DNA but very little of Guede’s. (This was used by his defense to deny that Guede had exerted violence on Meredith’s wrist).

After listening to the arguments of the prosecution and the defenses, Judge Micheli provided reasons why he rejected the contamination claims and ruled that all the biological traces identified as reflecting Sollecito’s and Knox’s DNA are admissible as evidence. He arrived at the conclusion that the DNA evidence is sound and, considered along with the non-biological proof, he decided there was more than enough evidence to order Knox and Sollecito to stand trial. 

Regarding the biological significance of the traces, we are now looking forward to hearing the Knox and Sollecito defenses’ counter-arguments.  But as we understand it now, the DNA evidence for the trio having all been involved in the murder seems pretty damning.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Understanding Micheli #2: Why Judge Micheli Rejected The Lone-Wolf Theory

Posted by Brian S


And so decided that Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox should face trial.

First, just to recap: Judge Micheli presided over both Rudy Guede’s trial and sentencing to 30 years and the final hearing that committed the two present defendants to trial.

Ten days ago, Judge Micheli made public the 106-page report that explains the thinking behind both actions. This is a public document, and in the enviable Italian legitimizing process, the public is encouraged to get and read the report and to understand the full rationales. Excellent analyses have already appeared in Italian in Italy, but no English-speaking sources on the facts of the case have either put the report into English or published more than the most superficial analysis.

These posts are examining several very key areas of the report so that we too may choose whether to buy into the rationales. The translations into English used here were by native-Italian speakers and fellow posters Nicki and Catnip.

Right at the outset of his Sentence Report on the conviction of Rudy Guede, Judge Micheli stated that it was neither the place nor his intention to make the case against either Raffaele Sollecito or Amanda Knox. He said he must necessarily involve them to the extent that they were present at the discovery of Meredith’s body. He said he must also examine evidence against them where he saw it as indicating that Rudy Guede was not a lone wolf killer and implicated them as his possible accomplices in Meredith’s murder.

Judge Micheli described the sequence of events laid out by the prosecution which lead to the discovery of Meredith’s body:

Early on the morning of November 2nd, Signora Lana Biscarini received a bomb threat call made to her home at 5A Via Sperandio. (This later transpired to be a hoax.)

Some time later Signora Biscarini found a mobile phone in her garden. She “had heard” that bombs could be concealed in mobile phones and so she took it to the police station arriving at 10:58am as recorded by ISP. Bartolozzi

The postal police examined the phone and following removal of the SIM card, discovered at 11:38am that it belonged to a Filomena Romanelli who lived at the cottage at 7 Via della Pergola. Following a call by Signora Biscarini to check with her daughter who was still at home, it is in the record at 11:50am that neither say they know the Filomena in question. At around noon Signora Biscarini’s daughter rings her mother at the police station to say she has found a second phone.

The second phone (Meredith’s) is collected from Via Sperandio and taken to the police station. Its receipt there is logged by ISP. Bartolozzi at 12:46pm. During its examination Meredith’s phone is also logged as connecting to the cell of Strada Borghetto di Prepo, which covers the police station, at 13:00pm. At 13:50pm both phones, which have never left the police station following their finding, are officially seized. This seizure is entered in the log at 14:00pm.

Separately, as part of the bomb hoax investigation, agents of the postal police are dispatched to make enquiries at Filomena’s address in Via della Pergola.

They are recorded in the log and filmed on the car park camera as arriving at 12:35pm. They were not in possession of Filomena’s phone, which remained at the police station, nor of Meredith’s which at this time was being taken from Via Sperandio to the police station for examination as part of the bomb hoax enquiry.

Judge Micheli said that some confusion was created by the evidence of Luca Altieri (Filomena’s boyfriend) who said he saw two mobile phones on the table at the cottage. But, Micheli said, these two phones either belonged to the others who arrived, the postal police themselves or Amanda and Raffaele. They were NOT the phones of Filomena or Meredith.

On their arrival at the cottage, the agents of the postal police found Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox standing outside the front door.

The two seemed surprised to see them (the postal police had come to talk to Filomena about a bomb hoax which potentially involved her phone, plus they had recently been informed of the discovery of second phone in the same garden), but then they explained they had discovered suspicious circumstances inside the cottage.

Raffaele said he had already phoned the police and they were awaiting their arrival in connection with that. Elsewhere in his report Micheli points out that Raffaele did, in fact, make a call to his sister at 12:50pm, followed by two calls to “112” reporting a possible burglary at 12:51 and 12:54pm, 15 minutes after the arrival of the postal agents.

Judge Micheli said the postal police were shown into the cottage by Raffaele and Amanda. They pointed out the traces of blood around the apartment, the state of the toilet and the disturbance to Filomena’s room. They said they didn’t think anything had been taken. They pointed out that Meredith’s door appeared to be locked, Raffaele said he had tried to open it, but Amanda said Meredith used to lock the door even when she was going to the bathroom to shower.

Shortly afterwards Luca Altieri and Marco Zaroli arrived. Luca said he had just been contacted by his girlfriend Filomena, who in turn had just been contacted by Amanda Knox about the possible break in. A few minutes later, Filomena herself arrived with Paola Grande. Micheli noted that Filomena had immediately contradicted what Amanda had told the postal police and she said that Meredith never locked her door. She also told the postal police that the phone found with a SIM card in her name was in fact Meredith’s 2nd phone, that she had given Meredith the SIM as a present. The postal police said that they didn’t have the authority to damage property and so the decision was made that Luca would break down the door.

This he did. The scene when the door flew open was instantly obvious, blood everywhere and a body on the floor, hidden under a duvet except for a foot and the top of Meredith’s head. At that point ISP Battistelli instantly took charge. He closed the door and forbade anyone to enter the room before contacting HQ.

Following his description of the events which lead to the discovery of Meredith’s body, Micheli then dedicates quite a few pages of his report to detailing the exact locations, positions, descriptions and measurements of all the items, blood stains, pools and spots etc.etc. found in her room when the investigators arrived. He also goes into precise details on the injuries, marks, cuts and bruises etc. which were found by Lalli when he examined Meredith’s body in situ at the cottage before she was moved. Despite their extent, it is obvious these details are only a summary of the initial police report and also a report made by Lalli on the 2nd November.

It is these details which allowed the prosecution to lay out their scenario for the events which they say must have happened in the room. It is also these details which convince Micheli that it was impossible for this crime to be carried out by a single person. In his report, he dismisses completely the scenarios presented by the defences of Amanda and Raffaele for a “lone wolf killing”. Micheli says that he is convinced that Meredith was sexually assaulted and then murdered by multiple attackers.

Judge Micheli also explains in his report how the law will decide on sexual assault or rape where the medical report (as was Lalli’s) is somewhat inconclusive. Else there would be no point in a woman reporting rape unless she had serious internal injuries. His conclusion: Meredith was raped by Rudy Guede manually.

So why does Judge Micheli believe that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollicto were possible accomplices of Rudy Guede and should be tried for the murder of Meredith Kercher?

In his report, he doesn’t look at the evidence which involves just them, nor does he analyze their various stories in his report. He doesn’t look at events involving them which occurred between the 2nd and 5th November. He does note a few items here and there, but these aren’t given as the major reasons for his decision to indict them.

He notes Raffaele’s apparent lies about the time he made the 112 phone calls. He dismisses Raffaele’s defense claim that the disposal of Meredith’s phones didn’t allow time for Raffaele to get to the cottage after watching his film, kill Meredith, and then dispose of the phones in Via Sperandio before the aborted call to Meredith’s bank. He noted that the cell which picked up the brief 10:13 call to Meredith’s bank also picked up most of Meredith’s calls home.

He asked whether it was possible for anybody to believe that each time Meredith wanted to phone home, she walked down to Via Sperandio to make the call. He notes that the police found Amanda and Raffaele’s behaviour suspicious almost straight away. He notes that Filomena said that the relationship between Amanda and Meredith had deteriorated by October. He says he doesn’t believe at all that cannabis caused any loss of Amanda’s and Raffaele’s memories.

Judge Micheli says he bases his decision on the following points of evidence:

[Note: The following paragraph numbers form no part of Micheli’s report. They are used in the context of this summary to identify the points of evidence contained in his report which will be examined and summarised in greater detail in follow-up posts]

1) Judge Micheli, after hearing both prosecution and defense arguments about Meredith’s and Amanda’s DNA on the knife and Raffaele’s DNA on Meredith’s bra clasp, accepted the prosecution argument that that both were valid evidence. He did note, however, that he fully expected that the same argument would be heard again at the full trial. In his report, Micheli dedicates several pages to explaining the opposing arguments and how he made his decision to allow the evidence. It is a detailed technical argument, and it is not proposed to examine it any closer in this post.

2) Judge Micheli explains that blood evidence proves that Meredith was wearing her bra when she was killed. Nor is it just the blood on her bra which demonstrates this. It’s also where the blood isn’t on her body. He says that Meredith was wearing her bra normally when she laid in the position in which she died, and she was still wearing it for quite some time after she was dead. Her bra strap marks and the position of her shoulder are imprinted in the pool of blood in that position. Meredith’s shoulder also shows the signs that she lay in that position for quite some time.

He asks the question: Who came back, cut off Meredith’s bra and moved her body some time later? It wasn’t Rudy Guede. He went home, cleaned himself up and went out on the town with his friends. Judge Micheli reasons in his report that it could only have been done by someone who knew about Meredith’s death and had an interest in arranging the scene in Meredith’s room. Seemingly who else but Amanda Knox?

She was apparently the only person in Perugia that night who could gain entry to the cottage. And the clasp which was cut with a knife when Meredith’s bra was removed was found on November 2nd when Meredith’s body was moved by the investigators. It was right under the pillow which was placed under Meredith when she was moved by someone from the position in which she died. On that clasp and its inch of fabric is the DNA of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox. Micheli reasons in his report that Raffaele and Amanda seemed to have returned to the cottage some time after Meredith was dead, cut off her bra, moved her body, and staged the scene in Meredith’s room.

3) Judge Micheli explains his reasoning on the method of Rudy’s entry into the cottage. He says that Rudy’s entry through the window is a very unlikely scenario and the evidence also indicates otherwise. He says the height and position of the window would expose any climber to the full glare of traffic headlights from cars on Via della Pergola. He asks, why wouldn’t a thief choose to break in through a ground floor window of the empty house? He says the broken glass and marks on the shutter both demonstrate the window was broken from the inside, some of the glass even falling on top of Filomena’s clothes which had been thrown around the room to simulate a robbery.

But his major reasoning for believing Rudy’s entry was through the front door are the bloody bare footprints which show up with luminol and fit Knox’s and Sollecito’s feet. These suggest that they entered Filomena’s room and created the scene in there after Meredith was killed. Allessandra Formica witnessed Rudy run away shortly after Meredith was stabbed. Someone went back later, left those footprints and staged the scene.

This, when considered in combination with the knowledge that person demonstrated of Rudy’s biological involvement with Meredith when they also staged the sex assault scene in Meredith’s own room indicates that that person was present when Meredith was assaulted and killed. He said it also demonstrated an attempt by someone who had an interest in altering the evidence in the house to leave the blame at Rudy’s door. Micheli reasoned, the only person who could have witnessed Rudy’s earlier sex assault on Meredith, could gain entry via the door and had an interest in altering the crime scene in the house appeared to be Amanda Knox. In his report, Micheli states that this logic leads him to believe that Amanda Knox was the one who let Rudy Guede into the cottage through the front door.

4) Judge Micheli examines the evidence of Antonio Curatolo. He says that although Curatolo mixes up his dates in his statement, he does have a fix on the night he saw Amanda and Raffaele in Piazza Grimana sometime around 11:00 to 11:30pm. Curatolo is certain it was the night before the Piazza filled up with policemen asking if anyone had seen Meredith. In his evidence, he says they came into the square from the direction of Via Pinturicchio and kept looking towards the cottage at Via della Pergola from a position in the square where they could see the entrance gate.

Judge Micheli reasons in his report that their arrival from Via Pinturicchio ties in with the evidence from Nara Capazzali that she heard someone run up the stairs in the direction of that street. He also reasons that they were likely watching the cottage to see if Meredith’s scream had resulted in the arrival of the police or other activity.

5) Judge Micheli examines the evidence of Hekuran Kokomani and finds him far from discredited. His says the testimony is garbled, his dates and times makes no sense but…. that Hekuran Kokomani was in the vicinity of the cottage on both 31st Oct. and 1st Nov isn’t in doubt. Furthermore, Micheli says that when he gave his statement, the details which he gave of the breakdown of the car, the tow truck and the people involved weren’t known by anyone else. He must have witnessed the breakdown in Via della Pergola. The same breakdown was also seen by Allessandra Formica shortly after Rudy Guede collided with her boyfriend.

This places Hekuran Kokomani outside the cottage right around the time of Meredith’s murder and he in turn places Raffaele Sollecito, Amanda Knox and Rudy Guede together outside the cottage at the same time. His evidence also places all three outside the cottage at some time the previous night.

Judge Michelii found that all this evidence implicated Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito as accomplices of Rudy Guede in the murder of Meredith Kercher.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Understanding Micheli #1: Why He Rejected All Rudy Guede’s Explanations As Fiction

Posted by Brian S


Judge Micheli has had two very important roles. He presided over Rudy Guede’s trial and sentencing, and he presided over the final hearing that committed Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox to trial.

A week ago, just within the three-month deadline, Judge Micheli made public the 106-page report that explains the thinking behind both actions. This is a public document, and in the enviable Italian legitimizing process, the public is encouraged to get and read the report and to understand the full rationales. Excellent analyses have already appeared in Italian in Italy, but no English-speaking sources on the facts of the case have either put the report into English or published more than the most superficial analysis.

These posts will examine several very key areas of the report so that we too may choose whether to buy into the rationales. The translations into English here were by native-Italian speakers and fellow posters Nicki and Catnip. The next post will explain why Micheli ruled out the Lone Wolf Theory, and why he concluded that Knox and Sollecito appeared to be implicated in Meredith’s murder and should therefore be sent to trial.

Judge Micheli maintained that from the moment Meredith’s body was discovered until his arrest in Germany on November 19th, Rudy Guede was in a position to compile a version of his involvement in events at the cottage which would minimise his reponsibilities and point the finger of guilt elsewhere.

He was able to follow the course of the investigation in newspapers and on the internet. He would know of the arrests of Amanda, Raffaele and Patrick. He would know that the investigators had found biological evidence which would sooner or later connect him to the murder, and he would know of other discoveries and evidence which had been publicised in the media.

His story as told in Germany was compiled with all the knowledge about the crime and investigation he would have sought out. On his return to Italy in December he was interviewed by the investigating authorities and gave version 2. He was interviewed again in March which resulted in version 3, and later still made a spontaneous statement to change one or two facts including the admission that the trainer footprint in Meredith’s room could be his. Judge Micheli said:

Analyzing the narratives of the accused…he is not credible, as I will explain, because his version is (1) unreliable, and (2) continuously varying, whether on basic points or in minor details and outline.

Micheli then examined the details of Rudy’s claimed meeting with Meredith which resulted in his invitation to the cottage on the evening of November 1st.

He noted there were substantial differences between his versions of December and March, particularly with regard to the location of his meeting with Meredith on the night of Halloween and his movements in the early evening of November 1st.

He considered it likely that Rudy had made these changes as he became aware of evidence which contradicted his December version. Notably, in December Rudy claimed to have had his meeting with Meredith which resulted in her invite at a Halloween party given by Spanish students.

By March it was well known that Meredith had spent her entire Halloween in the company of friends, first in the Merlin pub before they later moved on to Domus disco. In March Rudy changed the location of his meeting with her from the Spanish party to Domus, which by chance Rudy had also attended following the party. However, neither Meredith’s friends who were continuously in her company nor those who accompanied Rudy to the Domus witnessed any meeting between the two. Judge Micheli commented:

On 26 March 2008, instead, Rudy explained to the Prosecution, drawing a picture, that the group invited to the Spaniards’ house actually moved wholus-bolus to the “Domus” club, but it was right in that nightclub that he met Kercher, and not before; offering up a tour-guide description from the chair, saying, “there’s a bar for the drinks and then there’s a room, there’s an arch and a room. I walking [sic] around there, and that’s where I met Meredith”. On the facts of the meeting and the subject of the conversation, he elaborated: “I started talking to Meredith …talking anyway I gave her a kiss.. after which I told her how much I liked her and asked her if the next day, in all the confusion anyway, if we were going to meet the next day and she said yes (…), we met in the evening around half eight, like that.

While not intending to explore the question, basically irrelevant, of whether the pair had agreed to a more or less specific time (his confirmation of the suggestion of 8.30 pm in both verbal statements however allows the inference that according to Guede they had an appointment), the patent contradiction between the two versions jumps out. One context, of a room between two bathrooms, in an apartment, is completely different to that of a drinks-bar and an arch, in a pub; one might concede, perhaps, the possibility of forgetting which place it was where they last bumped into a friend, but hardly the first time there was a kiss with a girl towards whom one was attracted.

With regard to his movements in the early evening of November 1st, Rudy’s friend Alex failed to corroborate Rudy’s December claim to have visited his flat. He said he didn’t see Rudy either before or after his meeting with Meredith at her cottage.

In March, Rudy changed his story and claimed to have risen at 6pm(following the all-nighter at Domus) before wandering around town for an hour or so. He then said he went to Meredith’s cottage but received no answer so he carried on to Piazza Grimana in the hope he might see people he knew. He thought he arrived in the Piazza at around 7:30pm. He claimed that some time later he left Piazza Grimana and called at the Kebab shop before returning to Meredith’s cottage and arriving some time between 8:30 and 9:00pm.

He said he then waited until her arrival some time just after 9:00pm. It was noted that in both his December and March versions Rudy said he had arranged to meet Meredith at 8:30pm. Micheli noted that this didn’t sit well with another arrangement Rudy had made to meet Carlos (from the Spanish party) between 9:00 and 10:00pm.

Micheli said that neither version of Rudy’s movements could be treated as true because he changed his story to fit facts as they became known and there was absolutely no corroborating witness evidence.

Rudy claimed two situations evolved following his entry with Meredith into the apparently empty cottage:

Whilst he was having a drink of fruit juice from the fridge, he claims Meredith found that 300 euros (her rent money) was missing from her bedside cabinet. Meredith was naturally upset by this discovery and straight away blamed “druggy Amanda”. Rudy said they both checked Amanda’s room to see if the money was there. However, it couldn’t be found and Rudy sought to console her.

He says that this consolation developed into an amorous encounter which proceeded to the stage where “Meredith asked him” if he had a condom. He told he didn’t and since she didn’t either they stopped their lovemaking.

Judge Micheli had a real problem with this story as told by Guede. He found it unlikely that Meredith would be interested in lovemaking so soon following the discovery that her money was missing. He found it unlikely that it was Meredith who was leading the way in this amorous encounter as Rudy was suggesting with his claim that it was “Meredith who asked him” if he had a condom.

Surely, Micheli reasoned, if Rudy was hoping to indulge in a sexual encounter with Meredith following the previous night’s flirting, he would, as any young man of his age, ensure that he arrived with a condom in anticipation of the hoped for liason. But even if he didn’t, and it was true that events had reached the stage where Meredith asked him, then surely given his negative response, Meredith would have again gone into Amanda’s room where, as she had told her friends, condoms were kept by her flat mate. Judge Micheli simply didn’t believe that if they had got to the stage of lovemaking described by Rudy, and following his negative response to her question, they just “STOPPED”. Meredith would have known she had a probable solution just metres away.

Rudy claimed he then told Meredith he had an upset stomach because of the kebab he had eaten earlier. She directed him to the bathroom through the kitchen.

Rudy put on his i-pod and headphones as he claimed was his habit when using the toilet. In his December version Rudy said the music was so loud he heard the doorbell ring but he made no reference to hearing any conversation. A perfect excuse, Judge Micheli says, for not hearing the disturbance or detail of Meredith’s murder. However, in his March version he claims he heard Amanda’s voice in conversation with Meredith. When Rudy did eventually emerge from the bathroom he says he saw a strange man with a knife and then a prone Meredith. Micheli commented:

...it is necessary to take as given that, in this case, Kercher did not find anything better to do than to suddenly cross from one moment of tenderness and passion with him to a violent argument with someone else who arrived at that place exactly at the moment in which Rudy was relieving himself in the bathroom. In any case, and above all, that which could have been a surprise to the killers, that is to say his presence in the house, was, on the other hand, certainly not put into dispute:

Meredith, unlike the attackers, knew full well that in the toilet there was a person who she herself allowed in, so for this reason, in the face of someone who had started raising their voice, then holding her by the arms and ending with brandishing a knife and throwing her to the floor, why would she not have reprimanded/reproached/admonished him immediately saying that there was someone in the house who could help her?

…Meredith didn’t shout out loudly for Rudy to come and help
…There was a progression of violence
…The victim sought to fight back

If it is reasonable to think that a lady living 70 metres away could hear only the last and most desperate cry of the girl – it’s difficult to admit that Guede’s earphones, at 4-5 metres, would stop him hearing other cries, or the preceding sounds.

Micheli was also mystified as to why Amanda (named in Rudy’s March version) would ring the doorbell. Why wouldn’t she let herself in using her own key? He supposed it was possible Meredith had left her own key in the door which prevented Amanda from using hers, but the girls all knew the lock was broken and they were careful not to leave their own key in the door. Perhaps, Meredith wanted some extra security/privacy against someone returning and had left her key in the lock on purpose. Maybe Amanda was carrying something heavy and her hands weren’t free. Or, maybe, Rudy was just trapped by his December story of the doorbell when he didn’t name anybody and an anonymous ring on the doorbell was plausible.

The judge then took issue with Rudy’s description of events following the stabbing of Meredith. Rudy claimed that when he emerged from the bathroom he discovered a man with a knife standing over Meredith. In the resultant scuffle he suffered cut wounds to his hand. armed himself with chair to protect himself. before the attacker fled when he fell over because his trousers came down around his ankles. Micheli said that those who saw Rudy later that night didn’t notice any wounds to Rudy’s hands although some cuts were photographed by the police when he was later arrested in Germany.

Micheli found Rudy’s claim that the attacker ran from from the house shouting “black man found, black man guilty” unbelievable in the situation. In the panic of the moment it may be conceivable that the attacker could shout “Black man…, run” following the surprise discovery of his presence in the house, but in the situation Rudy describes, blame or expressions of who the culprit thought “the police would find guilty” made no sense. It would be the last thing on an unknown attackers mind as he sought to make good his escape.

Micheli considers the “black man found, black man guilty” statement an invention made up by Rudy to imply a possible discrimination by the authorities and complicate the investigation. Micheli also saw this as an excuse by Rudy to explain away his failure to phone for help (the implication being that a white man could have made the call). It was known by her friends and acquaintances that Meredith was never without her own phone switched on. She kept it so, because her mother was ill and she always wanted to be available for contact should her mother require help when she was on her own

Judge Micheli regarded Rudy’s claimed efforts to help Meredith impossible to believe, given the evidence of Nara Capezzali. Rudy claimed to have made trips back and forth to the bathroom to obtain towels in an attempt to staunch the flow of bood from Meredith’s neck. He claimed to have leaned over her as she attempted to speak and written the letters “AF” on the wall because he couldn’t understand her attempted words. His described activities all took time and Rudy’s flight from the house would have come minutes after the time he alleged the knife-man ran from the cottage.

Nara Capezzali maintained that after she heard Meredith’s scream it was only some seconds (well under a minute) before she heard multiple footsteps running away. Although she looked out of her window and continued to listen for some time because she was so disturbed by the scream, she neither heard nor saw any other person run from the house. That Rudy had run wasn’t in doubt because of his collision on the steps above with the boyfriend of Alessandra Formica. Micheli therefore considered it proven that “all” of Meredith’s attackers, including Rudy, fled at the same time.

Earlier in his report Micheli considered character evidence on Rudy given by witnesses for both prosecution and defense. Although he had been seen with a knife on two occasions, and was considered a bit of a liar who sometimes got drunk, the judge didn’t consider that Rudy had previously shown a propensity for violence, nor behaviour towards girls which differed markedly from that displayed by many other young men of his age.

However, because of the wealth of forensic evidence [on which more later] and his admitted presence in the cottage, combined with his total disbelief in Rudy’s statements, Micheli found Rudy guilty of participation in the murder of Meredth Kercher.

He sentenced him to 30 years in prison and ordered him to pay compensation of E2,000,000 each to Meredith’s parents John and Arline Kercher, E1,500,000 each to Meredith’s brothers John and Lyle Kercher plus E30,000 costs in legal fees/costs + VAT. Also E1,500,000 plus E18,000 in legal fees/costs + VAT to Meredith’s sister, Stephanie Kercher.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Powerpoints #10: The DNA Evidence May Be A Tough Mole To Whack

Posted by Nicki





We now show in this second Powerpoint presentation what a tough mole to whack that one might be.

We have already covered here the basics of DNA evidence.

That presentation covers the definitions of valid and invalid DNA samples, how contamination might occur, who collected and analyzed the Perugia samples, and how the samples will have been stored.

DNA analysis has been done on the various luminol-enhanced footprints in the house that Kermit analyzed for us.

Also on the knife found hidden in Sollecito’s apartment, and on some items of clothing, and on some fittings and fixtures in Meredith’s house.

And quite possibly on other items, too.

Here’s defense lawyer Theodore Simon in the recent NBC Dateline documentary:

Theodore Simon thinks the prosecutors evidence made public so far is daunting. The defense could argue a faked robbery, and a moved body, and contamination, but eventually it could become like whack-a-mole and all of their arguments could lose force.

Theodore ain’t the only one. New York lawyers following the case reckon the odds of defense arguments losing traction because there are just too many evidentiary moles to be whacked down are already high.

The defenses seem to be indicating that they will argue at trial that all of the many DNA samples might be too small, or too contaminated, or less than 100 percent of a match.

Nothing seems to stand out in the Perugia DNA process to suggest a major failing at any point. And if there was one, only scientific evidence in proof of this will influence the court, and innuendo will really go nowhere.

Further presentations will build on this one when the precise DNA samples being challenged become known.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Powerpoints #7: DNA Evidence - A Very Clear Intro To A Vital Subject Here

Posted by Nicki




If you can’t see the Powerpoints as intended, please install the latest version of the Powerpoint Viewer which is downloadable here

This is a short sharp presentation of how criminal DNA analysis works.

It is widely known that DNA analysis has been done on the luminol-enhanced footprints that Kermit analyzed for us yesterday.

Also on the knife found in Sollecito’s apartment, on some items of clothing, and on some fittings and fixtures in Meredith’s house. And possibly on other items too.

The defenses seem to be indicating that they will argue at trial in December that the DNA samples might be too small, or might be too contaminated, or might be less than 100 percent of a match.

In two respects, this may not change matters very much.

  • First, there will be many other areas of evidence to be considered at the trial. Alibis, eye-witness accounts, the autopsy, defendant behavior and psychology, computers, and cell-phones, all will factor in.
  • And second, DNA analysis is hard to challenge on the grounds the defenses seem to be suggesting. DNA analysis is a pretty precise science. It does not result in percentages of match of the samples - either they match or they don’t match.

And the provisional perception is this: many DO match.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Powerpoints #6: Trace Evidence Seems To Confirm More Than One Perpetrator At Scene

Posted by Kermit





Click here if you have Powerpoint or the Powerpoint Viewer program loaded. If not here is the Viewer download.

This is Judge Paolo Micheli explaining his sentencing of Rudy Guede on 28 October:

[Judge] Micheli agreed with prosecutors that more than one person took part in the sexual assault and murder, dismissing claims that the 47 bruises and knife wounds on Kercher’s body could have been made by a single attacker….  adding that while footprints there [in the house] might not definitely belong to Knox and Sollecito, they did indicate more than one attacker.

Will the judges and jury in the Knox and Sollecito trial early next year reach the same conclusion? It does look probable.

This Powerpoint is a hypothesis about six of those footprints. There seems to have been some sort of clean-up to try to hide them.

But they were revealed by luminol on the floor of the house. An analysis of evidence already in the public domain (there may be more) does point to the presence of three pairs of feet.

A sole-perpetrator theory of the crime might just be viable with two pairs of feet. But it is hard to see how a lone-perpetrator theory can hold up if there were three pairs of feet.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Judge Micheli’s First Statement - The 10,000 Pages Start To Talk

Posted by Peter Quennell




Judge Micheli’s dossier. This below is from London’s Daily Telegraph. Click above for the full story.

In a dossier on the high-profile case, Judge Paolo Micheli said the 21 year-old’s murder was more likely spontaneous rather than pre-planned.

The judge, however, appeared to agree with prosecution claims the Leeds University student was murdered by more than one person.

He said that footprints in the flat showed there was more than one attacker in Miss Kercher’s flat on the night she was killed.

The revelations came after the Italian judge rejected one of her accused killer’s applications for bail…

Judge Micheli said he feared the two suspects could flee the country or commit another murder.

[Meredith’s] semi-naked body was found in the whitewashed cottage she shared with Miss Knox and two other students on November 2 last year.

She had been stabbed in the neck three times, and sustained more than 40 other injuries.

The judge attached weight to a kitchen knife found in Mr Sollecito’s flat which allegedly carried traces of Miss Knox’s DNA on the handle and Miss Kercher’s DNA on the blade.

He also said there were inconsistencies in Mr Sollecito’s accounts of where he was that night.

Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini told the court last week that Miss Kercher was killed when all three suspects tried to force her to participate in “a perverse group sex game”.

Judge Paolo Micheli has a terrific reputation as a judge, He did not of course devote only last Tuesday to reviewing the case.  That has been a full-time job for him for several months now. In particular, he will have read the 10,000 pages of evidence the police and prosecutor have submitted. Almost certainly again and again.

The partial evidence already out here is pretty telling to those who have worked so hard to put it all together.  And the 30-year sentence Judge Micheli handed down to Rudy Guede on Tuesday suggests just how overwhelming the full body of evidence must be. How it must really hang together.

And how it must evoke the intense agony of the final moments of Meredith Kercher, as she was seemingly tortured to death amid laughter and taunts. What is actually in those 10,000 pages will soon be common knowledge, by way of both the Knox/Sollecito trial in December and the Guede appeal thereafter.

Tick tick tick..


Monday, October 27, 2008

Peter Popham Of The UK “Independent” Sure Has Drunk The Knox PR Kool-Aid

Posted by Peter Quennell




Popham’s Bias Against Italy

Among the European papers The Independent is really standing out now for its coverage of the Kercher case.

A long list of wrong and omitted facts. And a great deal of biased editorial comment masquerading as straight reporting. All the work of Peter Popham, the Independent’s Rome reporter.

Check out some of Popham’s Rome Notebook pieces, in which he comes across as contemptuous of Italy and all things Italian.

If Popham has actually published anything sympathetic to Italy in his time there, we are unable to spot it.   The Italian police and justice system seem particular targets of his scorn.

Ignored: Mountain of Evidence

By mid-year 2008 the main accumulation of evidence was complete and extremely extensive. It had already been reviewed twice by the Supreme Court and found to be strong.

A flavor of it was available to any reporter who bothered to attend the many preliminary hearings in 2008 summarised here.  To our knowledge, the lazy, opinionated and slapdash reporter Peter Popham never did.

Popham Again Channels Knox PR

Here now is Popham’s latest garbling of the real case. We put what is obvious bias in bold.

See our corrections below.

Peter Popham: A chance to redeem Italian justice

Rome Notebook: When he gives his verdict, Judge Paolo Micheli has the opportunity to redeem the reputation of Italian justice somewhat

If the prosecutors in the Meredith Kercher murder case had wanted to give the world a demonstration of what is wrong with Italian justice, they could hardly have done a better job.

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have been in jail since last November….  The evidence? [only] household tiffs between Amanda and Meredith in the flat they shared. Amanda supposedly invited undesirable men back to the house. Raffaele wrote in his diary that he sought “extreme experiences” (he had apparently been a virgin till meeting Amanda a fortnight before.) Yet the girls cohabited well enough…

After allegedly killing their friend, did they flee? Not at all. Next morning they called the police, and hung around to give statements. In the absence of other suspects, prosecutors accused them of murder with an African friend. Unfortunately for the prosecutors, Patrick Lumumba had never even set foot in Mez’s flat and eventually they had to let him go.

Two weeks after the murder, scientists found bloody fingerprints on a cushion under Mez’s body which belonged to a drug dealer and serial house-breaker called Rudy Guede, who had gone on the run right after the murder. The crime, it seemed, was solved – but prosecutors clung to their original theorem, merely substituting one African for another.

When he gives his verdict, Judge Paolo Micheli has the opportunity to redeem the reputation of Italian justice somewhat. Though if he sends Guede to jail for life and frees the other two, the cries of “racist” and “American dupe” will doubtless be raucous.

Our corrections of Popham

1. The evidence is merely household tiffs? Really? What of the small mountain of damning witness testimony, luminol and other forensic evidence, and eyewitness accounts? Why does Popham make zero mention of that?

2. Hung around and called the police? Actually, the Postal Police turned up of their own accord and seemingly interrupted a rearrangement of the crime scene in progress.

3. Sollecito’s calls to the Perugia Central Police Station seem to have been made only in frantic catch-up mode - some minutes later.

4. The police messed up over Patrick Lumumba? Actually, he was fingered by a self-proclaimed eyewitness: Amanda Knox. Strongly. And not just once; several times. For which criminal slander, of course, both the prosecutor and Patrick Lumumba are now suing… Knox!

5. Rudy Guede is “a drug dealer and serial house-breaker”? Really? Is there ANY proof of that? Popham is happy to decry racist stereotypes and yet propagates them himself.

Still, it is interesting to know that Knox deflowered Sollecito. We can thank Popham for that mental image…


Monday, September 08, 2008

Knox & Sollecito Teams Form Truce To Dump ALL Blame On Rudy Guede?

Posted by Peter Quennell




This is from a surprising report from the Guardian’s Tom Kington in Rome:

Claims have been made of a pact between Knox and her Italian former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 24. It is alleged their lawyers have agreed to work together to blame the murder on Rudy Guede, 21, a part-time gardener from the Ivory Coast and the third accused.

Now, Guede’s lawyers are threatening to call for a separate trial for him alone - well away from the legal teams of the other two whom they fear could prejudice his case.

It is a pact, says Guede’s lawyer Walter Biscotti, that can be traced back to July when Sollecito sent Knox a bouquet of yellow flowers on her 21st birthday which both celebrated in prison.

‘There is a clear desire to make Rudy the guilty party, and it’s clear they will try anything,’ Biscotti said.

All three accused deny murder. Knox, or Foxy Knoxy, as she was known at her Seattle high school, shared a flat with Meredith, from Coulsdon, south London, who was studying in the city as part of her degree at Leeds University.

Knox has attracted headlines through a leaked prison diary in which she detailed her sexual escapades and a Facebook page on which she wrote about rape and fantasy. She has also speculated Sollecito, her then boyfriend, could have been responsible.

Knox’s lawyers maintain that bloodstains in the flat and DNA on a knife found at Sollecito’s flat cannot put her at the murder scene.

Sollecito’s lawyers will also question whether his DNA, found on the back of Meredith’s bloodied bra, is conclusive proof of his involvement. He and Knox claim that they were at his flat when the murder took place.

Guede, who fled to Germany after the murder, is the only suspect who has admitted to being in Kercher’s bedroom on the night she died. He states that they were planning to have sex - though he denies rape and murder. He has stated he was using the bathroom when she was killed, claiming Knox and Sollecito had rushed past him as he emerged.

Sensing a campaign against his client, Biscotti may press for the hearings to be separated in the hope Guede will be cleared quickly. It could involve a fast-track trial behind closed doors and a verdict as early as mid-October.

This could mean that Guede is convicted before a decision is made on whether Knox and Sollecito even stand trial.

‘There was a tacit agreement to just work on the defence of your own client,’ said Biscotti of the other legal teams. ‘But it looks like this is finished.’

He points to a recent briefing by one of Sollecito’s lawyers, Giulia Buongiorno, an MP and high-profile lawyer who has previously defended former Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti against Mafia charges, who told journalists that there had been just one killer.

The Kerchers’ lawyer, Francesco Maresca, said: ‘We are holding out for a trial of the other two, even if Rudy is found guilty.’


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Key Media Reports: 3 November 2007 Kate Mansey Interview

Posted by Administrator

Published in the Sunday Mirror 4/11/2007

MURDERED IN ITALY. MEREDITH, 21
Friend tells how he broke down door
Kate Mansey In Perugia, Italy 4/11/2007

A friend of murdered British student Meredith Kercher told last night how he discovered her body in her blood-spattered bedroom.

Raffaele Sollecito, 23, relived the horror of finding the body of the pretty brunette who died when her killer broke into her home and cut her throat as she lay in her bed.

“It is something I never hope to see again,” he said. “There was blood everywhere and I couldn’t take it all in.

“My girlfriend was her flatmate and she was crying and screaming, ‘How could anyone do this?’”

Meredith, 21, who had been studying in Perugia, Italy since August, was murdered the day after a Halloween fancy dress party at the city’s British-themed Merlin Pub on Wednesday.

On Thursday she posted happy snaps of herself in fancy dress on the internet and in the evening had returned home alone after watching a film at a friend’s house.

But her flatmates - two Italian girls and one American - had all stayed out for the night, so the gruesome discovery wasn’t made until the next day.

Raffaele had spent the night at his own house on the other side of the city with his girlfriend, Meredith’s American flatmate Amanda Knox, 22.

He said: “It was a normal night. Meredith had gone out with one of her English friends and Amanda and I went to party with one of my friends.

“The next day, around lunchtime, Amanda went back to their apartment to have a shower.”

As Amanda, from Washington DC, stepped into house [sic B] she could tell there was something terribly wrong.

Raffaele said: “When she arrived the front door was wide open. She thought it was weird, but thought maybe someone was in the house and had left it ajar.

“But when she went into the bathroom she saw spots of blood all over the bath and sink. That’s when she started getting really afraid and ran back to my place because she didn’t want to go into the house alone. So I agreed to go back with her. When we walked in together, I knew straight away it was wrong. It was really eerily silent and the bathroom was speckled with blood like someone had flicked it around, just little spots.

“We went into the bedroom of Philomena (another flatmate who was away) and it had been ransacked, like someone had been looking for something. But when we tried Meredith’s room, the door was locked. She never normally locked her bedroom door and that really made us frightened.”

Their panic grew as they desperately banged on her door.

Raffaele said: “I tried to knock it down. I thought maybe she was ill… I made a dent, but I wasn’t strong enough on my own so I called the police.”

When police arrived they knocked the door down straightaway and Raffaele followed them into the room.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” he said. “It was hard to tell it was Meredith at first but Amanda started crying and screaming. I dragged her away because I didn’t want her to see it, it was so horrible.

“It seems her killer came through the window because it was smashed and there was glass all over the place. It was so sinister because other parts of the house were just as normal.”

Raffaele, a computer science student, said Meredith had recently started seeing an Italian neighbour called Giacamo [sic B] who lived in the apartment beneath the girls.

He said: “Meredith was always smiling and happy. She was really popular and it’s horrible that someone would want to hurt her.”


Page 9 of 10 pages « First  <  7 8 9 10 >