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An Alleged American Murderess in Italy *UPDATED*


NEW: Read my article for Radar on this case, published online today, November 19, 2007: “Sex, Lies, and Videotape: Inside the Amanda Knox murder investigation.



(For the title of this post, a hat-tip goes to the inimitable Yankee Bob.)

Someone had slit Meredith Kercher’s throat, possibly with a pen knife. The pretty, dark-haired 21-year-old British woman was supposed to be in a safe place. She was in Perugia, Italy studying in the third year of her 4-year European studies degree, to be acquired through the University of Leeds in the UK.

But on the morning of November 2, 2007, Meredith lay dead on her bed, covered by a duvet.

Police found a broken window, but the door to Meredith’s room was locked and no valuables had been taken.

Meredith lived in a charming little white house on the Viale Sant’Antonio with three roommates, two Italians and an American woman, 20-year-old Seattle resident Amanda Marie Knox.

Knox and her boyfriend, 24-year-old Raffaele Sollecito, reported the homicide to authorities. Photos published in various British papers showed the gamine Knox looking pale and serious as she spoke with detectives.

The British tabloids screamed of a maniac on the loose in Perugia, and Italian papers delved into the tawdry side of the crime, speculating that there was a sexual motivation behind the murder.

A break came in the case today.

Amanda Marie Knox, a former barista who had ambitions of becoming an author, confessed to playing a role in an assault and murder of her friend and roommate. Arrested along with Amanda were her boyfriend Raffaele, and the man who owned the bar where Amanda waited tables, 37-year-old Congolese national Patrick Lumumba (the Times Online reported that Lumumba claimed he was the grandchild of the first elected Prime Minister of Congo, Patrice Lumumba).

Italian police believe the motivation for the attack on Meredith Kercher was sexual. They think Meredith fought her attackers, and this led to the young woman’s murder. She had no intention of having an orgy with anyone.

News outlets like London’s Mail have learned from publications like The True Crime Weblog. Their long article about accused killer Amanda Marie Knox’s MySpace presence can be read here: “Foxy Knoxy: Inside the twisted world of murdered Meredith’s flatmate.”

Journalists Colin Fernandez and Beth Hale delved into the fiction Amanda posted to her MySpace blog as well as all the typical info MySpace profile owners list on their pages. [Edit: Amanda Knox’s profiles have all been made private or deleted.] Because authorities outside the U.S. sometimes take the personal web pages of accused criminals off-line — and friends or family members frequently take them down, mirrors of each page have been made. A mirror is just a facsimile of the original. Many links will be broken, but some have been edited to refer back to either this post or the other mirrored pages:

The True Crime Weblog has Amanda’s lone YouTube video. It is one of those ill-advised things many young people tend to post to that site — about 32 seconds of Amanda with several male friends. She appears to be extremely drunk, but is insisting in the video that she’s had just “One and a HALF” shots of some unnamed drink. Language warning: one of the guys in the video says “dirty f*ckers” at the end:

The strangest thing about the video is that it could be any bunch of 19 or 20-year-olds drinking in a kitchen anywhere. Save that the center of the short bit has been accused now of taking part in a lewd and bloody scenario, one that would be more easily explained were it not for her gender, and her demonstrable intellect.

Watching Amanda laugh on the video as she insists she isn’t drunk underscores the strangeness of the accusations against her. It is likely that she is literally thousands of miles from the place where that video was made tonight, as she sits behind bars in Italy. It is also certain that those who know Amanda are thinking the allegations against her — which prompted Italian police to declare the Kercher murder “case closed” — are many more thousands of miles from the Foxy Knoxy they know.

This entry will be updated and revised.

As always, any tips about this case are welcome.

If you’re a member of Digg, Digg this story.

An additional link from the Times Online: “Meredith Kercher ‘killed after refusing orgy.‘”

UPDATE 1, 2:09 p.m. ET, 11/07/07

The Mirror published an article containing some statements from Amanda Knox today, titled, “Accused girl ‘heard Meredith’s screams’.”

Amanda made several statements about Meredith Kercher’s murder and her interactions with both her boyfriend and her boss, Patrick. Read one way, her statements appear to be in conflict with one another and with some things she wrote in her MySpace blog.

From the Mirror:

“I want to tell you what happened because it’s left me really shocked and I am really scared of Patrick. I met him on the evening of 1 November (when Meredith died).”

Then she described how on Monday she had met Patrick outside the University for Foreigners in Perugia where both she and Meredith studied.

She told police: “I met Patrick on the morning of November 5th, he was asking me questions. He wanted to know what I had told the police, he wanted to know if I wanted to talk to journalists so I could find out what was known about Meredith’s death.”

The first statement is confusing. Was Amanda saying she’d only just met Patrick Lumumba on the 1st? Because her blog would imply otherwise. In an entry posted on October 15, Amanda wrote:

Speaking of working, I’ve been working everynight (except for monday night) from 10pm to 230am at a bar called Le Chic. Its a really small place owned by this man from the congo. his name is patrick…

It is hard to understand why a young woman might know about the murder of a housemate and lie about it at all. Unless police in this case are correct, and Amanda was a participant in Meredith’s murder and any attempts to cover up what really happened afterwards

Readers have made sympathetic comments already on this post about Amanda, but I have hesitated to be too sympathetic, and I’ve also hesitated to be damning in what I write. But something is wrong here.

Is that something reflected in Amanda’s fiction? Judge for yourself. Both stories found in her MySpace blog touch on themes of sexual violence. If Amanda Knox were not accused of taking part in a sexually violent murder, few would think twice about her fiction. There are people out there writing Harry Potter fan fiction conjuring up much more disturbing scenarios than anything Amanda wrote.

In context, though… you have to wonder. And from the boot of Italy through the United Kingdom all the way over to Seattle, WA, there are plenty of people wondering about Amanda Knox now, and how she ended up entangled in such a grim and gruesome murder.