Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder in Umbria: The Murder of Meredith Kercher

Guilty? Rudy Hermann Guede

With Patrick off the hook, police and media attention turned to another African immigrant. While the police had Knox, Lumumba and Sollecito in custody, forensic analysis showed that bloody fingerprints from the crime scene could not be matched to any of the three in custody, but instead were matched to a local small-time drug dealer and petty thief named Rudy Hermann Guede. Italian police put out bulletins identifying him, but he was shortly located in Germany, detained there by transit police for boarding a train without a ticket. Positively identified there, he was soon extradited back to Italy for suspicion of murder.

Rudy Hermann Guede
Rudy Hermann Guede

udy Hermann Guede had moved with his father from Côte d'Ivoire to Italy when Rudy was five. When his father returned to the economically and politically unstable West African nation, Rudy stayed behind with a prosperous businessman, Paolo Caporali, and his family. Rudy remained with the family even after his father returned again to Perugia as a laborer. Rudy's adolescent rebellion, though, drove a rift between him and Caporali. He fell into the darker side of Perugia's extensive student party scene, allegedly becoming a small-time drug dealer. A knife fight left him with an abdominal scar.

Rudy and Meredith, Rudy told police, had met at Silenzi's Halloween party. He told police that they made a date for the next night, contradicting her British friends with whom she spent the next evening, who maintained that she went home because she was tired, not because she had other plans.

Rudy admitted that he had been in the cottage the night Meredith died, and that they had had consensual sex that night. But he maintained that he didn't kill her. Rudy insisted that that someone broke in and killed Meredith while he was in the bathroom, suddenly sick from a bad kebab. He had been playing his iPod during his time in the bathroom, he said, but eventually her screams filtered past his headphones. When he pulled himself together and made it out of the bathroom, he claimed, he saw a brown-haired Italian man who he thinks may have been Raffaele, whom he did not know well. The man insulted him with an Italian racial slur, reminded him that everyone would assume the black man was the guilty one, and left. Rudy testified that he heard but did not see Amanda, although he told police he'd only met Amanda once at Le Chic. Rudy suggested that she may have mistaken him for Patrick, although the two African immigrants differ in age by over 20 years and bear little resemblance to each other.

Rudy Hermann Guede
Rudy Hermann Guede

In his version of events, Rudy tried to save Meredith, but gave up, panicked, and fled. Police determined that he then went to a student disco until well after midnight, leaving only to head to a bar, where he stayed until dawn. The next night, he went clubbing again. When the DJ that night declared a moment of silence for Meredith, witnesses say Rudy kept dancing. The next day he fled to Germany, where zealous transit police soon detained him.

Rudy accepted a fast-track trial, apparently believing Amanda and Raffaele were framing him. The DNA left behind after his tryst with Meredith and his implausible tale of an exculpatory bout of food poisoning contributed to his 30-year sentence, but he's appealing the case and suggesting that Amanda killed Meredith during an argument about money. He claimed that Meredith called Amanda a "drugged-up tart" and that Amanda needed the money for drugs.

Italian prosecutors, while pleased with the conviction of Guede, remained convinced that Guede could not have acted alone. In addition to the incongruity, variability and implausibility of their accounts of their actions on the night in question, physical evidence connecting Knox and Sollecito to the crime scene was accumulating.

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