Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder in Umbria: The Murder of Meredith Kercher

Blaming the Black Man: Patrick Diya Lumumba

Police brought Amanda and Raffaele in for questioning several times over the next few days. They asked Amanda about a text exchange between her and her boss, Patrick Diya Lumumba.

Patrick Lumumba
Patrick Lumumba

While too young to legally drink in the U.S., Amanda had been able to get a job in Perugia at a bar. Patrick Lumumba, 44, owns and runs Le Chic, a small bar near the university, and doubtlessly figured the outgoing and attractive Amanda would be a positive addition to his staff.

Lumumba met Knox's roommate Meredith at the bar that October when she saw a Polish vodka and told him that she could make mojitos—normally made with limes, sugar, mint and rum—with it; he invited her back to do so.

Lumumba sent Knox a text on November 1 telling her she didn't have to come in that night because the bar was nearly empty and he didn't expect business to pick up. She replied, "See you later." Just as it is in English, "See you later" is an Italian idiom. It doesn't always indicate a real plan; sometimes it's just a sign-off. Furthermore, Knox's team asserts that the police records' paraphrase of this text message left out the important final phrase that Amanda typed: "Good night."

When police probed further, Amanda blamed Patrick for the killing. Anna Donnino, a police interpreter, testified that Amanda seemed relieved when she finally changed her story to say that she was home and had heard Meredith's screams as Patrick attacked her. Amanda claimed Patrick was infatuated with Meredith; he maintained he had met the English girl only a handful of times.

Knox told police that she had met up with Patrick at a neighborhood basketball court the evening of the murder, and that they had gone together to the cottage around 9:00 p.m. She said that Patrick and Meredith had soon retired to Meredith's bedroom, and that she later had heard Meredith screaming, in response to which, Knox maintained, she had only plugged her ears. If this version is true, she apparently had forgotten all about it by the next morning, and didn't connect it to the blood-soaked apartment. Police arrested Amanda that night, in view of her inconsistent statements.

Lumumba was arrested the next day, but was quickly able to prove he'd spent the evening in his bar, and was released on November 20, 2007, for lack of any evidence corroborating Knox's account. He later sued the police for 516,000 euros in damage for false imprisonment (approximately $670,000 at the time). On March 16, 2009, an Italian court awarded Patrick 8,000 euros ($10,500). He's now suing Amanda for defamation.

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