Murder in Umbria: The Murder of Meredith Kercher
On November 2, 2007, Italian police discovered Meredith Kercher, 21, dead on her bedroom floor, drenched in blood and half-dressed but wrapped in a duvet, a condition which caused police to suspect that the killer or killers included someone who knew the victim or was otherwise sensitive to sexual violence. Kercher, a student from the University of Leeds, had been fatally stabbed in the throat the night before in the cottage she shared with an American student, Amanda Knox, and two Italian women their age, Filomena Romanelli and Laura Mezzetti. Knox and Kercher were students at the Università per Stranieri—University for Foreigners—in the picturesque Umbrian city of Perugia in central Italy.
Investigation of Kercher's murder, though, brought to light accounts of a wild student life at the university far exceeding simple youthful indiscretion making study abroad here look less like cultural and educational enrichment and more like an ongoing carnival of self-indulgence. Lurid British, Italian and American tabloid coverage and unsolicited grassroots efforts to prove Amanda's innocence by alleging police misconduct casting doubt on the Italian judicial system have transformed the case into a media circus, its sensational headlines eclipsing the sad fate of young Meredith Kercher.
Founded in 1921, the Università per Stranieri at which Kercher and Knox were enrolled today draws some 8,000 international students a year. The town's Università degli Studi di Perugia enrolls another 34,000. With its youthful population, artistic tradition, and the beauty of both its medieval architecture and its hilltop location in the green heart of the province of Umbria, the ancient city of Perugia seems an idyllic place for a junior year abroad. But now the city's reputation has been tainted by the startling murder. Long best known abroad for its chocolate; Perugia now has become famous as the site of this disturbing murder.