Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder in Umbria: The Murder of Meredith Kercher

The Bewitched Boyfriend: Raffaele Sollecito

While the Italian and British tabloids have vilified Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, her ex-boyfriend and co-accused, isn't getting nearly as much attention. The Italian press portrays him as an unwitting dupe, bowled over by the beautiful and brilliantly manipulative Amanda. He bears a strong resemblance to Daniel Radcliffe; the question for the Italian and English media is whether he's better cast as innocent Harry Potter, or in dark, deviance of Equus.

Raffaele Sollecito
Raffaele Sollecito

Raffaele is the son of Francesco Sollecito, a prominent urologist in Bari, the seaside capital of the southern Italian province of Puglia. His father is convinced the young man has been manipulated by a wild American girl. Some tabloids may note that the Italian information technology student wrote online of his fascination with "extreme sex," and that he had an extensive collection of sexually explicit Japanese "manga" comics; but it's Amanda's sex life on which the media overwhelmingly has focused. Newspapers note carefully that two other men have testified that they had sex with her during her short time in Italy, and that Knox, in her leaked prison diary —written in a Spiderman 2 notebook—mentioned five other men in her sexual history when falsely informed by prison officials that she had tested positive for HIV.

Her diary also casts suspicion on Raffaele. In it, Amanda wonders whether Raffaele sneaked out to the cottage, raped and killed Meredith, and then pressed sleeping Amanda's fingerprints onto the murder weapon.

Police found Meredith and Amanda's DNA on a knife recovered from Raffaele's kitchen. He maintains he had accidentally cut Meredith when they had been all cooking together at the girls' cottage. Police confiscated another knife from Raffaele during questioning at the station on November 5, but later determined it was likely not the murder weapon—which remains unidentified. Raffaele told police he collects knives and has a long-standing fascination with weaponry. Police believe he tried to clean the knife and other items with bleach, which they smelled on searching the apartment. Police also say that someone had Googled bleach and blood from Raffaele's computer the morning after the murder. Police arrested him when they believed they had found a footprint match between a sneaker print in the blood in Kercher's room and a pair of sneakers owned by Raffaele, although the match is disputed by Sollecito's defense team who note that Ruede owned a similar pair.

For now, Amanda and Raffaele are in this together. Their stories in the critical hours surrounding the murder are intertwined, even when they contradict each other (and themselves). Along with their displays of affection during questioning, witnesses have described them jovially enjoying dinner out in the days after the murder, and suggestively shopping for lingerie together. It doesn't sound like the behavior of grieving friends, or even of shocked acquaintances.

There are, of course, those who say Amanda and Raffaele are just misunderstood.

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