Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder in Umbria: The Murder of Meredith Kercher

A Murder Mystery

The next morning a neighbor found two cell phones in the garden near her home. Worried they were part of a terrorist plot perhaps rigged to detonate a bomb, she called the police. The police quickly traced the phones, learned they belonged to Meredith, and stopped by the girls' cottage on Via Pergola, where they found Amanda and Raffaele outside. Entering the house and forcing their way into Meredith's room, which had been locked from the inside, the police discovered Meredith's body.

Amanda Knox
Amanda Knox
Both Italian roommates had been away for the night and were still gone. Earlier that morning, Amanda had called Filomena to say that the front door was open and that the bathroom was had blood stains on the floor. She told her friend she was going to go back out to get Raffaelebut first she was going to take a shower.

Amanda and Raffaele have changed their stories about that morning and the previous night several times during the investigation.

In one account, they were ostensibly at Raffaele's from early evening through the next morning. He said he used his computer most of the evening, and they watched Audrey Tatou in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's whimsical portrait of Paris, AmÚlie. Investigators say his computer had not in fact been used most of that evening. Amanda said she read part of a Harry Potter book there; police saw it at the crime scene, though she hadn't mentioned bringing it home. In another account, Amanda said she was home and heard the murder; this would fit with grainy neighborhood closed-circuit television footage that police say shows her getting home around 8:45 p.m. Raffaele in the end claimed that that he was too high, too confused by the regular cannabis consumption that soothed his nerves, even to remember whether Amanda was with him the whole night. Former director of Perugia's crime squad, Domenico Giacinto Profazio, notes that both suspects' cell phones were turned off between 8:00 and 8:30 the night of the killing, and remained off until late in the morning of the next day, a marked departure from both suspects' usual usage patterns.

Raffaele Sollecito
Raffaele Sollecito
That morning, Raffaele told police they'd reached the cottage just before police arrived and that he had been trying to call authorities to report what they thought was a violent break-in, after seeing that a window in one of the rooms was shattered. Police, though, suspect Raffaele broke the window. Investigators say Raffaele's phone show he made these calls only after the police showed up to investigate the found phones. The couple insists they had no idea Meredith was dead behind her locked bedroom door; yet, despite the fact that the police closed the room off and did not let her in, Amanda has since described the scene. Furthermore, a witness, Marco Quintavalle, testified that a young woman he identified as Knox came into his supermarket early that morning, during the time she'd claimed to be at Raffaele's. Police report that Raffaele's apartment smelled of bleach that morning, and that they found a receipt there from Quintavalle's shop. They believe bleach and cloths found in the house cleaned the house and the murder weapon.