I received a message from Chris Mellas that clarified the “Mr Anonymous” message below. Chris Mellas did not
send the message — that much is clear from the message he did
send tonight. He doesn’t seem to realize that I sometimes shed a journalistic stance in this blog and express subjective opinions, but overall his message was well-considered and clearly explained some things. In short, he had no idea I’d received such a note. As I surmised — and I could have made this even more clear than I did — someone who thought they were perhaps doing Amanda Knox and her family a favor did the opposite. I will make amendments to this post later today. I’d do it now, but it’s simply very late and I’m not at my best. I wanted Mr. Mellas and readers who followed this post to know that I’d received some clarification. I owe it to Mr. Mellas to acknowledge that, and I appreciate him taking the time to write to me. I’d write him back personally, but the same caveat about me being tired and not good for more than this paragraph applies there, too.
Original blog post
From The Seattle Times/AP:
Prosecutors in Perugia, Italy are formally requesting that Ivory Coast native Rudy Hermann Guede, Seattleite Amanda Knox and Italian student Raffaele Sollecito be sent to trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher in November, 2007. The trio may also be formally charged with “sexual violence” and theft.
Now that these indictments have been requested, a judge will decide on granting the prosecutor’s request. If the decision is against the defense, the trio will be ordered to stand trial. Hearings may begin in September.
The Italian prosecutors believe Guede, Knox and Sollecito participated in strangling and stabbing Meredith Kercher. The Associated Press has reported that court documents state that Guede “engaged in sexual violence” against the victim, and was assisted by Knox and Sollecito.
Prosecutors believe Knox and Sollecito later tried to cover everyones’ tracks by making it look as though the residence Kercher shared with Knox and two other women was burglarized.
I dread writing any more about this case. But I feel somehow obligated, in spite of the fact that the people who want to talk about it online often seem to come a little unhinged about the whole thing. For example, Amanda Knox’s
stepfather, Chris Mellas, owns his own ISP — it shows up in web statistics as “Chris Mellas.” Either Mellas or a co-worker, or both, have been all over blog comments and related message board discussions
every day, sometimes all day long, for months. And while I’ve asked other commenters to be civil with Mr. Mellas in the past, they aren’t.
Then again, neither is he. For instance, I recently received this message, from “Mr Anonymous,” with a fake e-mail address:
I have seen several messages on your TC Message blog that covers the Meredith Kercher murder.
I intend to make more information available to the appropriate people that such slanderous remarks are being made and/or implied on your site in hopes that their on going action against other media outlets will include yours. Those who reside in specific locations who continue to make slanderous remarks apparently believe that they are protected based on the form of your blog. Apparently they find this to be an untruth.
I will further support any action taken against such remarks. Steve Huff has allowed this site to carry on without regard to proper oversight which he as well as his moderators will be held liable.
First, I have no idea what a “TC Message blog” is, but I’m pretty sure the writer meant the The True Crime Weblog Message Board, which in spite of its generic name really seems only devoted to discussion of the murder of Meredith Kercher. It’s also not a weblog at all, but a message board. The difference between a blog and a message board are pretty clear to anyone who has been using the Internet for a while. At least I thought so.
Second, the writer should have written “libelous” if they wanted to be clearly understood, not slanderous. That said, the very savvy admin of that board — I set it up and am still an administrator, but she handles the day-to-day, for which I am eternally grateful — Skeptical Bystander, is acutely aware of libelous language and what constitutes a libelous remark online, and she’s worked mighty hard to delete any posts that might be taken as libelous off that board. From what I’ve seen, she has succeeded. (I set the board up with the Kercher murder case in mind. I got really tired of open threads about it — you can’t “close” a Haloscan-hosted comment thread without hiding all the previous comments.)
Third, it’s rather pointless to try and be “Mr Anonymous” in a contact form submission if your IP address tracks back to this:
CustName: CHRIS MELLAS
Address: [Redacted] 108TH AVENUE NORTHEAST SUITE [Redacted]
Anonymous, vague threats just make you look sneaky, Mr. Mellas. If someone else sent that message without your knowledge, you should have a talk with them. If you or anyone else in Amanda Knox’s circle of family and friends are truly concerned about her plight (and I am sure you are), you might want to reconsider moves like that, in general. I think it’s loathsome that something like PR ever enters the equation in cases like this, but it does. Yammering, snarking, arguing, and threatening online is bad PR. The way that “anonymous” message was written in general was bad PR. I sure as hell would not want the IP address on something borderline incoherent like the message quoted above to track back to an ISP with my name on it.
Then again, I’m still flummoxed that people bother with online discussions at all, but I’m the blogger who generally doesn’t like blogs anymore and rarely takes them too seriously, so what do I know?
Here’s the funny thing about me calling out Mr. Mellas or one of his associates above: I haven’t been solidly plunked down in the “Amanda did it” camp for quite some time. When I wrote this article
Magazine I wasn’t too sure about Amanda. By the time I was done with the article and the blog entries
I wrote around the same time, I was pretty damned suspicious. The fact is, Amanda Knox does seem unbalanced, possibly mentally ill. Rudy Guede comes across as just plain nuts
, and Sollecito, of the three, comes across as the most cold and calculating. But none of those things make them killers.
I believe the intense focus on the pretty college girl from Seattle has been unbalanced and overheated. It started with the British tabs and Italian papers going bananas over her made-for-a true-crime TV movie web persona: Foxy Knoxy, Amanda’s own screen name, self-chosen, was like a gift to the tabloid editors in London. Saved them the trouble of coming up with something similar on their own (and make no mistake — given time, they would have come up with something very close to that nickname). Amanda’s strange, over-written short stories in her blog
dug the hole deeper, even though taken in context there’s nothing really that strange about them.
Basically, in the 8 months since Meredith Kercher was brutally murdered in her room in Perugia, all sense of direction in the media coverage of the case has been lost. Even a prominent newsmagazine I have worked with in the past did a piece about Knox that seemed heavily skewed in favor of the argument that Knox has been railroaded. The thing was, they made a pretty convincing case — enough for me to wonder.
So here’s where I stand: I have no idea what happened that night in Perugia. At the moment, I feel the possibilities are too many to list here. This is a reasonable question: has Amanda Knox been unfairly singled out in the coverage of this case? My answer is yes. Also reasonable: do the allegations of orgies, of sexual violence, play a role in the public interest in the Kercher murder? I certainly think so. To me, that automatically knocks all media coverage of the case off-balance. And it will never be balanced again (if that was even possible in the first place).
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating — I have no idea if I will write about this again. I don’t like the contentiousness that pops up in the comments (which is saying something, considering just how contentious comments can truly get on this blog in general), I don’t like the sneaky crap I detailed above. I’ll put it this way — I may not write more blog entries here
about the still-mysterious and horrifying murder of Meredith Kercher. Frankly, it’s the kind of case that could consume both me and blog space — space I could devote to talking about other
crimes of interest.
From here on out, I’ll consider doing paid writing about the case, but that will likely be it. I do admit I’d be interested in following events as they unfold if and when this goes to trial. “Circus” may be far too weak a word to describe that kind of media frenzy.
Comments are always welcome, but you can also just go register for the True Crime Weblog Message Board
and post your thoughts, opinions, and ideas there — you have more room to format text and just pontificate in general, there.
And to Chris Mellas or his “friend” (quotes intended, since I don’t think any friend who would send such a note was actually doing Mellas a favor) — if you have a problem with any post on that message board, it’s really simple: send me a link, quote the offensive portion, and ask for it to be removed. If
it meets the definition of libel, it will damn sure be gone. If any posters are repeat offenders, they will be banned. That goes for comments on this post as well.
Well, since the previous thread
is up to an astonishing 4,354 comments and counting, I figured it was time to let you intrepid folks who are bound to discuss the murder of Meredith Kercher last November in Perugia, Italy have a new open thread. Here you can bicker, get all nationalistic, sleuth, and generally pontificate to your hearts’ content. I guess.
Though I haven’t written about it, my feelings, my opinions about this crime have changed over time. For instance, while I think Amanda Knox may be a troubled young woman, possibly mentally ill, I’m more doubtful than I once was that she took part in any kind of murder plot. Truth is, we still don’t know, though. Hence my willingness to let you have another open thread. (There is another entry in this blog — about another crime — that is just as popular, but due to the acid, ugly nature of much of the commentary, I’ve never even considered opening a new thread for general commentary on that case.)
FYI — I’ve noticed that several posters in these threads about Meredith’s murder are better-than-average writers and incisive thinkers. Please check out this post
and think about what I’m asking, if you have the time.
I always reserve the right to delete any comments on this blog for any reason. Please remember that before you go off half-cocked.
As usual, please keep the following sane, civil, and on-topic.
I must admit I’m not fond of open threads. Essentially, it’s like letting a bunch of strangers take over a blog post, and I guess I’m territorial enough to be bothered by that. But I can’t deny that some readers love them
. I’ll never be able to put up with the anarchy of a generalized open thread, where people can theoretically discuss whatever is on their minds, but certain subjects covered by this blog tend to demand open threads.
So, since folks have remained relatively — and I mean relatively
— civil, here’s a new open thread for discussion of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy last November. You can click the tags at the bottom of this post to find past entries in this blog about this case.
Please maintain a civil dialogue, and please do NOT bring arguments from other blogs to this one. In that respect, I remain apologetically protective of this space. If you started an argument elsewhere, finish it there, or forget about it. Please be courteous to any new posters, and if you express suspicion of who they really are, what their purpose is, please have a grounded, rational reason.
This post is yours, now — have at it.
Anyone interested in continuing the discussion begun in the previous open thread
about the November, 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy can begin posting below.
Few crimes about which I’ve blogged
or even written about professionally
have generated the sort of ongoing discussion this case has. In the most recent open thread about this case — more than 3700 comments long — it seems like there are posts from just about anyone you can think of who might have even the most tangential association with the story — from the stepfather of American student Amanda Knox, one of the suspects in Ms. Kercher’s murder, to commentary from one of my favorite novelists, Douglas Preston (I’ve read every book Mr. Preston has written with Lincoln Childs
— in FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast
they created one of my favorite modern fictional detectives).
It’s the numerous regulars who make these open threads interesting reading, though. You know who you are.
When I first began researching and writing about this case, I felt a great deal of suspicion about the guilt of the main suspects — Amanda Knox, her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, and Rudy Guede.
But in the months since the story broke I’ve begun to feel that the facts of the case as reported by the press are now confused, and confusing.
I can also understand the mistrust that Douglas Preston has expressed regarding the prosecutor on the case, Giuliano Mignini. If you familiarize yourself with Preston’s own Mignini-related troubles
while researching one of Italy’s greatest unsolved serial murder cases, you quickly “get” his suspicions about the prosecutor’s trustworthiness.
Yet I can’t say my suspicions about Ms. Knox or Mr. Sollecito have been completely eliminated, and I feel almost certain that Rudy Guede is probably just where he should be — in jail, accused of being the main
actor in Meredith Kercher’s murder.
I wish I had the wherewithal to go to Italy and see what I could dig up as an investigative journalist, but I don’t.
So discuss away. I do try to read each post, but I generally don’t comment much myself unless things get crazy. Please keep it civil, sane, and most of all, on-topic. Please know, too, that I reserve the right to delete any post for any reason.
[Edit, 12/17/07: Back to the old system for now. Go here to take a look at the comments you’ve made during the interim: http://truecrimeweblog.disqus.com/.]
For this inaugural open thread using the new commenting system, I’d like to suggest readers discuss the “Foxy Knoxy” murder — the alleged murder of Briton Meredith Kercher by Rudy Hermann Guede, Amanda Knox, and Raffaele Sollecito. Click here
for the previous entry or simply go here
for the comments.
Please keep referring to this blog entry for updates on how to use the new commenting system.
NOTES ON THE NEW COMMENTING SYSTEM
1. You can ignore the points
. Unless people vote you deep into the negatives, your comment will not be buried. Don’t be a troll, and it will be visible. Points are awarded by other commentators, which can include me. And you know what? I like the point system for one reason — it’s a good way to let a-holes know they’re being a-holes without
actually engaging them (which is often exactly what they want).
Frankly, I think the threading thing is self-evident. If you click through to Disqus, you can select the “flat” view, if you like — then the comments will look more like what you’re used to.
3. THE COMMENTS ARE NOW PAGINATED. AT 25 COMMENTS, THEY GO OVER TO A NEW PAGE. LOOK FOR PAGE NUMBERS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE COMMENTS SECTION.
4. YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE A DISQUS PROFILE
. You may remain anonymous. However, you should know I take a close look at anonymous commentators and won’t hesitate to delete them or mark them as spam if they get really obnoxious. If this gets really bad, I will not hesitate to change the settings so that all commentators must be registered.
You can sort comments by oldest, newest, hottest, and something else. I just use old or new and ignore the other settings.
The box where you enter your comment is now at the bottom of the entry rather than the bottom of the comments. This may be a little confusing, but you enter your comment then check the usual location, if you’re sorting by “oldest.”
Once you’ve left a comment, be sure to refresh the page to see what you and others have written.
8. If you do choose to use the points — only vote another person up one time. If you wish to vote one person up multiple times, you’ll probably have to make multiple profiles, which most people will not do. An attempt to vote a person up twice will actually reduce the point you just gave them.
In a way, I truly appreciate it when readers feel proprietary about my blog. More than some other weblogs I’ve read, that seems to be the case here. People refer to “their” forum, or whatever.
But as I have had to say too many times — this isn’t a message board.
On message boards, you may have admins and moderators, but essentially, the readers run the show, add the content, and the admins and mods are there to keep order. On a blog, the blogger, the person who writes the posts, runs the show.
I actually installed this commenting system to make comments slightly more like a certain type of message board.
Even though I have insisted (and do insist) that people remember this is a different format from a message board, I still went ahead and tweaked things to make the comments feel more like that type of forum, because it seemed to be something the readers might like.
It always happens, though — some people have absolutely freaked
about the change. There was a time when I would have apologized for that. This is not that time. I like this change. It’s more in keeping with the way much of the rest of the Web looks now. I found the new format self explanatory and easy to use, and I’m not a skilled webmaster — I’m a writer, first and foremost, and a researcher. My wife
, who is
a skilled webmaster, can tell you — frequently, me farting around with my blog may end in disaster. This time, the blog has turned out precisely as I wanted it to (ok, not precisely, but I’m referring only to some issues with fonts and colors).
I do read other weblogs, about other subjects, and I’ve rarely seen another blog where the creator and author has had to explain changes the way I’ve had to do. Either they’re ignoring complaints or their readers roll with it. Frankly, I suspect the latter.
I constantly make it clear that I am deeply grateful to the readers of my crime blogs, past and present. I am. And when I make changes, they are usually for aesthetic reasons or usability issues. The comments were changes for usability, and fortunately, a few readers do agree with me. I’m not making any other changes here anytime soon, so hopefully people will grow more accustomed to the new format.
I’m excited to let readers of The True Crime Weblog
know that RADAR
has published a web exclusive by me on the investigation into the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy. I first covered that still-unfolding story here
, and it has proven one of my most popular blog entries (1,644
comments and counting) in quite some time.
This will explain why there have been no more blog entries, though:
“Sex, Lies, and Videotape: Inside the Amanda Knox Murder Investigation.
The article is an overview of the case so far. If you like it, you should know it was subject to some excellent
editing and thorough fact-checking along the way, so I can’t take credit for the best parts of the piece.
Go check it out
and leave a comment there, if you have something to say.
Add to the above this bit posted on RADAR’s “Fresh Intelligence”
about the arrest of Rudy Hermann (Guede), the most recent suspect added to the investigation into the Kercher murder.
The Times Online
had updated their article with info about Rudy on YouTube by 8 p.m. ET yesterday, but the post I submitted to RADAR was sent in several hours before the Times
updated their article.
I’ve also added Rudy’s crazy, disturbing “vampire/alien” video
to my own YouTube account
There’s a weird symmetry to Rudy’s and Amanda Knox’s YouTube accounts. Both posted one video only, and in both instances, the video was embarrassing and seemingly pointless.
Another post by me is up on “Fresh Intelligence” this morning. It’s not related to the story above at all. No, this one is about — of all people — Bill Nye the Science Guy.
It’s one of the stranger stories you’ll read today…
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.“
THIS ENTRY HAS BEEN UPDATED, INCLUDING LINKS TO MIRRORS OF AMANDA KNOX’S MYSPACE PAGES.
(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
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.