The recent 48 Hours mystery show once again attempted to lend credibility to the virtually laughable lone wolf theory. Despite its inaccuracies it seems fairly clear that the friends and family of Amanda Knox in all likelihood encouraged the 48 Hours show to air before the presentation of the crucial DNA evidence shortly to be discussed in court. Timing is after all everything and it may have been the last time anyone would actually take the show seriously, especially considering the main theme of the show boiled down to the simply ludicrous suggestion that Amanda Knox is somehow a victim in this case and the lone wolf theory is still a credible and valid scenario for what happened that night. For those of you who are still unaware of precisely what that means, it is the idea that Rudy Guede scaled a virtually un-climbable wall and crawled in through a window of the cottage in order to sexually assault and murder Meredith Kercher.

Many following the case long ago dismissed the theory as fantasy, even Guede himself who in his statements to police and diaries admits he was not the only person in the cottage that night. Yet we must also consider that this is virtually the only scenario that the defence can now use to exonerate Amanda and Raffaele as they both strenuously deny any involvement in Meredith’s murder. Despite the physical evidence suggesting their possible role, copious amounts of physical evidence of Guede’s involvement was found at the crime scene and a smaller amount of evidence leading to the defendants. The defence maintain this is the result of contamination and the abundance of his fingerprints and DNA suggests Guede and Guede alone killed Meredith. The prosecution allege that both Amanda and Raffaele were present in the cottage the night Meredith was killed and that once Guede had fled, a well organised and methodical clean up took place to conceal any physical evidence linking them to the crime scene. Unsurprisingly plenty of Guede’s DNA and fingerprints were left for investigators to find.

I discussed the lone wolf theory a few months ago, but as I have often found with this case, new information, ideas and personal reflection often encourages me to revisit important areas in more detail or with a slightly different perspective. I have decided to take a fresh look at this theory and explain why it is completely at odds with current psychology research and how evidence available about the set up and implementation of the crime further discredit this theory as a possibility. I have decided to write this at what is possibly the most crucial part of the trial proceeding so far: The presentation of the physical evidence linking Amanda and Raffaele to the murder of Meredith Kercher.

The Organised vs. Disorganised Offender

Although the definition of homicide is reasonably clear cut, the definition of sexual homicide is much more ambiguous. There are several clear differences seen in sexual murders: Firstly the idea that killing itself is sexually arousing, secondly that the murder is carried out in order to cover up a sexual crime and finally that the offence is a homicide that has some sexual component, but in which the exact motivational dynamics remain unclear (Schlesinger, 2007). The latter seems to be the most likely scenario in this case, despite the definition being slight ambiguous it does seem clear that the murder of Meredith Kercher was a sex related homicide, possibly with a rape/sodomy motivation.

According to ‘The Handbook of Psychological Approaches with Violent Offenders’, the organised vs. disorganised crime scene characterisation of sexual homicide offenders provides a useful insight into these types of crime (Ressler et al, 1986). Clues left at the crime scene can often indicate possible personality characteristics or clues about those involved, as can the nature of the offence, the way it was planned and executed.

The organised offender
Crimes committed by an organised offender are often carefully planned and executed, there is often evidence suggesting the offender brought with them items necessary to commit the crime (such as rope or tape to bind and silence the victim), especially those that might ensure they are able to fulfil certain needs or fantasies through the act of committing the crime. There is often evidence of careful planning and as a result these offenders are usually harder to catch as they are careful about leaving trace evidence behind.

The disorganised offender
A disorganised offender on the other hand often leaves a chaotic scene behind with evidence suggesting a spontaneous or unplanned attack with very little prior planning or pre preparation. The staging of a crime scene often occurs as a direct result of a spontaneous disorganised offence and is usually spotted by investigating officers as the resulting scene is conflicted and full of red flags. By their very nature, organised offenders have no need to stage a scene as theoretically they perceive to have prepared sufficiently to avoid detection in other ways. Disorganised offenders will often stage a crime scene to cover the spontaneity of the act and the inevitable fear of being caught.

The murder of Meredith Kercher
The evidence available so far indicates that this was a disorganised offence. The crime scene photos that have been released show a messy and chaotic scene, clothes all over the floor and blood everywhere. Evidence of staging also indicates a disorganised offence as does the alleged clean up attempt. Despite the evidence suggesting a certain amount of premeditation with the murder weapon having been taken from Raffaele’s apartment to the cottage, there is no way of proving that the intention was to kill Meredith with this knife therefore we cannot necessarily conclude this was an organised offence based solely on this information. Similarly, injuries sustained by the victim also suggest she was forcibly held and that some attempt was made to silence her, yet if we are to conclude this was an organised offence, surely the offender would have brought something with which to bind and/or gag the victim?

This does not seem to be the case but rather a spontaneous group attack that resulted in a violent and chaotic murder with a subsequent panicked attempt at concealing the truth about what had happened. This leads me to conclude that the murder of Meredith Kercher is an example of a disorganised sexual homicide. None of the group had any history of violence which can in part be explained by a group dynamic. Unsurprisingly, research indicates that 64% of first time violent sexual homicides can be classified as disorganised.

Further Confusion
Despite certain pieces of evidence suggesting that this was a disorganised offence, there are elements of the crime that do not fit this conclusion. Meredith was almost certainly sexually assaulted whilst she was still alive, an attempt was made to restrain her and evidence from a break down truck driver suggests that Raffaele’s Audi may have been in the driveway of the cottage that night. Sexual assault on a live victim, evidence of restraint and evidence suggesting an offender may have driven to the scene of the crime are all associated with organised offenders. This coupled with the suggestion that the murder weapon may have been taken to the crime scene rather confuses a possible classification of a disorganised offence

As I have said many times with these types of theory and research based pieces, no theory is ever perfect especially one as reductionist as the organised/disorganised offender. This theory has been criticised for these reasons in the past. Despite this, many profilers and police officers find these sorts of classifications useful and can usually see evidence pointing to one type or another.

I believe this theory is perhaps too simplistic as it does not take into account the involvement of one or more persons in a violent sexual homicide. The slight confusion we have already seen in typology and classification of violence, added to this new confusion about whether this was an organised or disorganised offence only serves to encourage my belief that several motives, ideas and schemas about ‘how to humiliate/wind-up/hurt Meredith’ may have come into play that night. I have already suggested the possibility that there may have been a sadist in the room as well as very different motives for each of the individuals involved. The idea that certain elements of the crime are organised whilst others are disorganised not only encourages the idea that more than one person was involved but also suggests that at least one group member was firmly out of the loop.

The Blitz Attack

If Rudy Guede really had been a lone wolf killer, apart from the evidence suggesting that the break in was staged, he would almost certainly be a disorganised offender. Aside from the abundance of his DNA and fingerprints left at the scene, there are certain things we would expect to see from a lone disorganised offender that do not seem to be evident in this case.

Firstly, disorganised offenders often feel inadequate and their attacks are usually sexual in nature. These types of assailants, especially those with the intention of sexually assaulting or raping the victim, will often approach the victim from behind and due to the spontaneous nature of these offences they will usually initiate what’s known as a blitz attack. The blitz attack is primarily concerned with ensuring the victim is unable to resist or fight usually because the offender doubts their own ability to subdue the victim. The most common method of ensuring compliance is to render the victim unconscious. Unfortunately due to the amount of force employed when administering blows to (often) the head, the victim usually suffers horrendous blunt force injuries which more often than not result in serious injury or death. Meredith had no such injuries and any injuries she did sustain came much later than the initial attack.

If we are to conclude that Rudy Guede was a typical lone, first time, disorganised killer we can surely conclude he would have participated in this style of ambush, after all in one study 82% of young offenders who engaged in sexual attacks of this nature did so by initiating a blitz attack on their victims. Similarly the lone wolf theory suggests that Guede climbed through a window in order to access Meredith when he could quite easily have knocked on the door and pounced or at least chosen a method of entry that was easier and less noisy. If we are to accept the lone wolf theory as credible then we must also accept that by climbing through the window, Rudy Guede was aiming to surprise Meredith by initiating an attack to subdue, sexually assault and kill her yet the evidence suggests no such blitz attack ever took place and that the victim was very much conscious throughout most if not all of her ordeal.

The injuries sustained by Meredith are concrete, unchangeable and unchallengeable. These injuries cannot be manipulated or denied to suit. Meredith sustained defensive knife injuries to her hands in what the medical examiner likely concluded was an attempt to fight off an attack from a person standing in front of her brandishing a knife. Victims of disorganised offenders especially those that adopt the element of surprise (as the lone wolf theory suggests by insinuating Rudy climbed through the window), very rarely have defensive injuries suggesting a struggle, Meredith had several including various bruises.

Similarly research about these types of offenders indicates they often mutilate the victim by cutting or slashing the breasts, face, abdomen and genital area. Meredith sustained no post mortem mutilation. These types of offenders will often sexually assault or rape the victim after death, the medical examiner has stated he believes Meredith was in all likelihood sexually assaulted before she was seriously injured and later killed, this itself indicates some kind of restraint would have been necessary,yet this type of behaviour is not associated with disorganised offenders. The victims of certain sexual homicides often suffer injuries consistent with those found on Meredith’s body, injuries such as evidence of manual strangulation and those consistent with overkill, yet the injuries sustained by the victim do not fit the current theory of what we would expect to find in a lone, first time disorganised offender like Rudy Guede also he had no history of violence.

The crime reconstruction and evidence from injuries sustained by the victim suggests she was ambushed rather than blitzed. This in itself could suggest a planned attack, a sudden burst of ‘group’ anger or an escalation of a previously planned event.

I have previously spoken about how three people with no history of violence could easily be just as, if not more violent than a single individual with a history of violence. I still maintain that Rudy Guede would be extremely unlikely to commit this sort of violent offence alone and without provocation or consultation with anyone else. The same questions remain, why did he choose Meredith? How did he know she would be alone?

These are all questions that are never likely to be answered. This theory quite simply does not fit. It will never fit because it didn’t actually happen and insinuating that it did not only makes the 48 hours show and everyone associated with it look incredibly stupid, it also attempts to challenge an awful lot of literature and an awful lot of people, much smarter and more knowledgeable than I that will tell you exactly the same thing. Rudy Guede has not, will not and will never be proven a lone wolf killer.

A Toilet Break?

If we are to believe that Rudy Guede was a lone wolf, so overcome by lust for Meredith he broke into her house in order to rape and or kill her then we’d have almost certainly seen further evidence of sexual activity. So far the sexual assault Meredith suffered seemed to have been abandoned at some point, a point I believe Rudy ‘bottled it’ and, possibly due to excitement, fear or drugs, headed for the toilet. These sorts of actions in a lone offender do not make sense. Something spooked him that’s for sure and if he had been a lone offender there is absolutely no way he’d have left his victim in a position to escape or alert the police by going to the toilet in the middle of the attack.

Rudy admits to being at the cottage the night Meredith was killed and maintains he was on the toilet after eating a spicy Kebab when someone came into the house and stabbed Meredith. He claims to have tried to help her and then became scared and ran away. I don’t need to tell you that most of this story is what one judge accurately described as a ‘highly improbable fantasy’ yet his faeces was found in the toilet the next day indicating that he had at some point gone to the toilet. Some people believe that Rudy Guede’s version of events, despite being absurd do actually have some basis in truth as he has the awful habit of attempting to explain away things he knows the investigating officers can incriminate him with.

Like the faeces he left in the toilet for example. Rudy’s own version of events actually explains that he rushed off the toilet, had a confrontation with the killer and tried to help Meredith by stemming the flow of blood with towels, allegedly two blood soaked towels were found at the crime scene. With this in mind we could consider that Rudy became overly excited or scared during the attack, resulting in the need to visit the toilet, we could also suggest he was in the toilet before Meredith was killed. It seems highly likely that as the faeces was found in the toilet and Rudy attempted to explain it that he actually used the bathroom before Meredith was killed and certainly before he fled the cottage, after all I doubt he would hang around to use the loo after the piercing scream and the resulting knife wound, as Brian S explains in his theory, probably caused them all to flee. If the lone wolf theory is to be believed, doesn’t it seem a bit odd that Guede would be sat on the loo whilst the victim was left to her own devices? I think a far more likely scenario is that Guede was not alone in the cottage that night, Amanda and Raffaele were ‘taking care of Meredith’ while he dashed to the loo.

The Neck

I am still struggling to understand exactly how all three came to be present in the cottage that night and the exact sequence of events that led to the attack on Meredith. Arnold Layne recently put forward an excellent possible scenario as did Brian S, both can be found on TJMK.

Some evidence such as the knife and possibly Raffaele’s car in the driveway suggests an element of planning, yet other factors suggest it was anything but, as the crime itself seems rather disorganised. There certainly seem to be a number of fantasies coming through, specifically hinting at one or more of those involved gaining some kind of enjoyment in watching the victim suffer and, due to the nature of the injuries some possible fantasies linked to the victims neck.

Meredith sustained several neck injuries consistent with being manually strangled, cut with a knife before being fatally stabbed. The crime reconstruction has one of the defendants holding Meredith from behind, the other to the side holding her head up and exposing the neck with the third member of the group attacking with the knife.

So what is this apparent fascination with the neck? If they’d wanted to ensure the victim did not scream why not attempt to use a rudimentary gag such as a cloth or a sock? Though many have suggested that the neck injuries were specifically inflicted to ensure the victim didn’t scream it could (and this is where it gets pretty distressing) also be suggested that the attackers wanted to hear poor Meredith plead and beg for her life, they probably hadn’t counted on her screaming.

Any sex related homicide will usually reveal something that has a special kind of significance for the killer. I believe this may have been Meredith’s neck. They could have silenced her in any number of ways yet I believe they chose not to and underestimated her capacity to scream, it was in all likelihood her final scream, heard by a witness, that may have encouraged the fatal ‘panic blow’. It could be suggested that as this was possibly a panic blow, that the offenders had not yet finished ‘playing’ with Meredith, her final scream may have sadly sealed her fate but also ensured her suffering was not prolonged further.

Before she was fatally injured the medical examiner also determined that Meredith had been strangled. This attempt was clearly unsuccessful. According to this report:

“Only eleven pounds of pressure placed on both carotid arteries for ten seconds is necessary to cause unconsciousness.4 How-ever, if pressure is released immediately, consciousness will be regained within ten seconds. To completely close off the trachea, three times as much pressure (33 lbs.) is required. Brain death will occur in 4 to 5 minutes, if strangulation persists”

As Meredith was still very much alive when she was stabbed it could be suggested that whoever tried to strangle her, could not complete the act or believed they already had. Strangulation is more closely associated with sexual homicide than other injuries present. Most offenders who engage in strangulation apply the wrong type of pressure, use an incorrect and not yet perfected ‘technique’ especially if they are using their hands, I can imagine it’s very difficult to strangle someone if you don’t know what you are doing and especially if they are kicking and resisting. Meredith may have temporarily lost conscious, regained it and attempted to break free. This may have been the critical moment when the assailants decided to fatally injure her with the knife but not before she was taunted viciously.

Evidence available about the manner in which Meredith died suggests not only a vicious group attack but an apparent fascination with a specific area of her body upon which she sustained injuries above and beyond what was necessary to subdue or kill. This apparent fascination with Meredith’s neck could indicate the role of certain fantasies or schemas about ‘how to kill someone’. It seems odd that the assailants specifically chose to focus on her neck, after all stab wounds to the heart or abdomen are just as fatal. What was it about Meredith’s neck that provoked the injuries she sustained? I’m afraid we will never know but it is an important point to consider especially if we are to conclude that sexual fantasy may have played a role in her death.

The Two Stages of the Motive

If we consider that the murder itself was not premeditated we could also consider the motive in two different stages, this is not to suggest they are not inextricably linked as they inevitably are, however it’s a lot harder to consider the motive for the murder when attempting to understand not only the complex group dynamic but the crime as a whole. The initial motive for the attack on Meredith is still unclear. It may seem difficult to separate these two but when we do it becomes a little easier to understand.

At some stage and for whatever reason Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede ended up at 7 Via Della Pergola. They may have been high, they may have been sober or they may have intended to scare Meredith, initiate a group sex activity, even commit an act of violence. Though it may seem ridiculous to suggest this is unimportant, it really is the case. The crime scene evidence suggests the involvement of all three and though clarity and closure for the family would be ideal I fear we will never really know how or why this attack started. So it follows that we must study the trail of evidence left both at the crime scene and on the victim’s body itself. The evidence put forward so far suggests that if the plan was not to kill Meredith that night that the motive of the group may have suddenly changed at a critical point.

At one point the motive of the group changed and although the motive for the initial attack seems unclear, the motive for the later stage of the attack is not. At one point it changed from the sexual assault, argument or game, to killing Meredith.

This became the primary motive of one or all members of the group, why else would Meredith have been so viciously strangled? Why did this not kill her? Why was the attempt at strangulation abandoned in favour of the more intrusive method which caused the injury she sustained to the neck that later caused her death? Why were the group so determined to kill Meredith Kercher?

That part at least is probably easily explainable. She knew them, she could identify them and the attack had already gone so far they knew that letting her get out alive would almost certainly mean serving a long jail sentence. They decided to silence her forever. They cut her throat, took her mobile phones, locked her in her bedroom and left her to die. Later having realised the chaos and incriminating evidence left behind, two of them returned to begin the clean-up and staging of the crime scene, the other went to dance the night away.

This is why, with the evidence available so far that I believe the right people are on trial for their role in the senseless and brutal murder of Meredith Kercher. If any of you are coming here for the first time having watched the 48 hours show I implore you to seek out more information. The show barely touched the surface of how brutal and cruel the murder of poor Meredith actually was and hopefully with the aid of a little psychology theory I have successfully achieved my objective of showing how, aside from merely the physical evidence suggesting it is in fact an impossible scenario, the lone wolf theory has no credibility and doesn’t make any sense in the real world.

I have been profoundly shocked at the recent and ongoing exploitation from certain individuals, seemingly with the aim of securing personal or financial reward for their own tenuous links to the brutal murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher. This exploitation sadly seems to be increasing in both instance and severity.

Meredith’s body was discovered concealed by a duvet on the floor of her bedroom on the 2nd November 2007. She had been sexually assaulted, strangled and fatally stabbed in the neck. Meredith’s 21 year old American housemate Amanda Knox and Italian national Raffaele Sollecito are currently on trial for their suspected involvement in Meredith’s tragic death.

As the case unfolded many people became entranced by the spirit of Meredith and angered by the brutal way she met her tragic end, not least as it appeared certain subjective parties were playing a rather sick and twisted game with what appeared to be the emerging facts: The evidence suggesting both Amanda and Raffaele are firmly at the centre of this crime.

Many people will agree that exploiting this sort of tragedy to achieve a desired objective is morally questionable, yet exploitation in its many forms has been the underling motive of certain individuals following or involved in the case from the very beginning.

Personal and/or Financial Gain?

Most of these guilty parties are made up of the friends, family and supporters of the defendant Amanda Knox, otherwise known as the FOA, who quickly initiated a PR campaign with the apparent aim of ensuring a ‘balanced and fair’ representation of Amanda in order to combat a perceived ‘negative and overblown’ representation of her as a seductress or man-eater in the press. Funny then that instead of focusing on their primary objective, many of Amanda’s friends and supporters began a vicious and extensive internet hate campaign aimed at ensuring those following the case saw only the picture of Amanda they so carefully constructed, those that rejected or questioned this doctrine were deemed ‘anti-Amanda’ and their forums and blogs relentlessly trolled with talking points that were either factually incorrect or hostile in nature.

A number of the questions I have had since I started blogging about the case: Why are Amanda Knox’s supporters so aggressive? Who are these people, what do they have to gain and more importantly, is it helping Amanda?

The FOA Doctrine

The FOA I believe, have officially disbanded, yet many of it’s ‘members’ appear to be very much active.

Amanda the victim
One of the most outrageous insinuations to date has been the suggestion that Amanda Knox is somehow a victim in this case. Unsurprisingly, most of the people proclaiming there is not a ‘shred of evidence’ linking her to the crime are those with a specific interest in ensuring Amanda is released immediately, without even considering the evidence suggesting she was involved. Those pieces of evidence they cannot dismiss are usually distorted by the outright lying or manipulation of its significance.

The recent 48 hours show on the case actually made me feel physically sick and I hope the victim’s family never see it. As a result of this show I have seen more and more instances of individuals turning up on blogs and forums proclaiming Amanda’s innocence on the basis of this hugely biased and offensive excuse for journalism. Just another example of the exploitation of the victim in order to achieve the objective of negating or distorting the case against Amanda Knox. Unfortunately, many accomplish only the aim of smearing the name and reputation of victim, but what do they care? She always has and will continue to be an irrelevant and unimportant detail to these people. What does this say about Amanda Knox and her ever deluded supporters?

Dirty Tricks
Some of Amanda Knox’s supporters have even gone as far as smearing the name of the victim in order to somehow dissolve the perceived ‘good girls do and bad girls don’t’ comparison between Amanda and Meredith. Amanda’s mother Edda actually stated she’d feel sorry for Meredith’s parents when the court heard how Meredith was not as good girl as she had been portrayed. This was her apparent message of support to Meredith’s grieving family. Certain media outlets even went as far as suggesting the victim was drunk when she was killed. This was later shown to be an outright fabrication. Who I wonder did that benefit? Then we have certain Knox supporters like Kelly13 suggesting that the Kercher family put aside their grief (her actual words) and jump on the ‘free Amanda’ bandwagon.

Then we have the associate of Amanda’s stepfather Chris Mellas, Goofy, a repulsive individual who appears to be going through a mid-life crisis and who seems to enjoy relentlessly smearing the name of the victim in the comments section of Perugia Shock. Not to mention revealing personal details about certain posters that hold an opposing view on the case to him. One individual, a administrator on a popular forum has been forced to file a harassment complaint to the police on account of Goofy’s ever escalating, obscene and grotesque behaviour. He’s even gone so far as to smear the name of her husband, revealed their approximate location and personal details about her family. If it were physically possible I’m sure this sad and deluded creature would blame the victim for her own death. All in the name of securing justice for his own ego Amanda Knox. Pretty sick huh? There’s more…

Amanda and her supporters have told so many lies during the course of the investigation and trial. These are well documented and there is no need to list them all here. One of the most vicious has been that the prosecutor Mignini is mentally unstable. As the case against Amanda mounted, the FOA began to up their smear campaign against the PM, by attempting to ensure the public believed he is some sort of psychotic maniac, obsessed with sexual orgies, who consults a lunatic conspiracy theorist blogger for advice on the case. Who do you believe? Those with a vested interest in ensuring the case against Amanda is dismissed? Or those without ties to Amanda who believe Mignini is the right man for the job?

Strange how the FOA never seem to mention Mignini’s co-prosecutor  who would, should Mignini step down, be more than happy to continue in his absence. The main tactic of the FOA has always been to take cheap shots at each and every perceived obstacle in its way, if it takes a lie to achieve this objective so be it. If it means smearing the name or reputation of an innocent individual, whatever. They don’t care, after all everyone but Amanda is part of a giant conspiracy to stitch her up for murder. Gimmie a break.

Then we have the allegations that Amanda was hit during her ‘interrogation’ which have not only been demonstrated to be false, they’ve actually succeeded in slapping a further investigation and possible slander charge against her as well as giving her lawyers a red face. Amanda’s lies are of course deemed irrelevant by her supporters, unfortunately they will be considered by the jury and will probably go against her.

The lies of her friends, family and supporters however will not be considered by the jury, who will not necessarily know how her supporters have undeniably and no doubt irreparably damaged both her credibility, reputation and the ability of the media and public to sympathise with her on any level. Some ‘supporters’ huh?

Money for Nothing

There are some who may believe that Amanda’s friends and family, having an emotional link to the case have some sort of excuse for their behaviour. I personally think they are old enough to know better, but people are of course entitled to their opinion. Once we remove the potential obstacle of those who have a personal or emotional link to the case we are left with the real dregs, individuals who seek to make money from the tragic death of Meredith Kercher and the hysteria surrounding the ongoing trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

I’m sure most of you read Frank’s little revelation about being paid for his tabloid smut blog, I’m sure all of you have noticed his apparent contempt for decency and u-turn from objective, honest reporting to his current fascination with the defendant Amanda Knox. One can only imagine him drooling over his keyboard as he writes the latest tripe, counts his hits, banks  the pay check and salivates further at his future prospects all whilst seemingly unable to moderate the comments on his blog which have become increasingly crude and disgusting. Reading his blog has become a fascinating example of unprecedented arrogance. This pales in significance when compared to the writings of Candace Dempsey who after discussing the case for about five minutes decided to write a book and promote herself as an award-winning journalist.

Then we have the recent revelation that the owner of the house where Meredith was killed has decided to sell tickets to those who wish to view the ‘house of horrors’. I for one had no problem whatsoever with her decision to clean up and re-let her house, it is after all her prerogative, as is selling tickets to gawp at the site of Meredith Kercher’s sad and tragic end. Despite this I fail to see how someone can be so motivated by the desire to recoup financial losses that they could abandon all rationality and decency by profiting from the tragedy that caused the loss of earnings in the first place, a tragedy that resulted in the brutal and sadistic death of an innocent young woman. I do not think the owner of the house should be allowed to capitalise on the murder in this way and fully expect the Kercher’s lawyers to express his views on this at some point during the next week.

I ask who will benefit from all of this, certainly not the victim, nor her family and not the woman accused of taking part in her brutal murder. There have been times when this case has made me consider the morality of certain people involved to a much deeper level that I ever thought possible. I am at this present moment in time frustrated and angered by it all.

This case is not about making a quick buck, earning a living or spring-boarding into a film/journalism career, this case is about ensuring dignity, honour and respect for the victim and her family, something which costs nothing to uphold and everything to forfeit.

It seems there are many that have forgotten what happened to Meredith that night and who seem determined to ignore those pangs of guilt that are surely emanating from within and if they aren’t I’d be seriously inclined to suggest they are either deluded or lacking in morals altogether.

I expect many of you will have seen the interesting analysis of Amanda Knox’s statement to an Italian judge explaining what had happened to her the night she was questioned and made the false accusation of Patrick Lumumba, on the blog ‘Eyes for Lies’. You can find the audio clip of the statement here. Eyes is one of very few people with the gift of being innately intuitive when it comes to detecting deception.

My first thought when I heard the audio clip and read the Eyes for Lies post was how bumbly Amanda’s statement to the judge actually is and I completely agree with the author, Amanda really isn’t making much of an effort to convince the judge or get her side of the story across. Her statement lacks substance and in my opinion any kind of purpose.

Eyes makes the comment “Yet when I realize she had one year to compose herself, and get her facts straight, I’m surprised even more by this statement. She really doesn’t say much to her defense. You would think after a year in jail, she would have worked out a feasible account of that night, wouldn’t you?”

This in itself seems to pinpoint what a lot of people following the case are beginning to realise, Amanda Knox doesn’t have a feasible account of what happened that night, at least not one that she wants to share with a judge, jury or any law enforcement officer. Amanda claims to have been at home with Raffaele on the night of the murder but he claims she went out. Since the evidence has virtually annihilated his computer alibi, neither agrees with the other and hence we can come to the conclusion that both have something to hide.

It’s interesting that Eyes has made this comment so early on in her analysis and it does underpin the essence of what she has to say about the statement and its content. Amanda Knox, after a year in prison and about to make one of the most important statements she could ever make, a statement that could clear her name or at least provide some sort of clarity, basically chooses to witter on for several minutes about absolutely nothing and sound like a chugging tractor in the process.

Eyes further comments: “The question I and everyone else should have at this point is, if Amanda is telling us the truth, why did she have to “try to give” information? Why didn’t it come naturally? When we are honest, we don’t struggle and try. Speaking and fact recollection are second nature to us.”

I’d love to see Eyes take on the email Amanda sent to 23 of her family and friends a few days after the discovery of the body, there would be an abundance of information that would confirm the interesting point she makes here: “why did she have to “try to give” information? Surely it should come naturally?” and this is so true. In her email Amanda also says “Its like im trying to remember what i was doing before all this happened” yet just a few paragraphs earlier Amanda had seemingly perfect recall of what she had been doing ‘before all this happened’ and it seems, what Meredith had been doing too.

Another statement I found strange in the email was this: “im going to tell this really slowly to get everything right so just have patience with me.” I’ve always been curious as to why Amanda needed them to have patience when reading her written account of what had happened, surely if she felt the passage needed further clarification she could have put the email aside for a few minutes whilst she thought about what she wanted to write? This part of the email encourages my belief that Amanda was almost ‘practising her lines’ by writing an email that was essentially a statement. Her choice of words “I’m going to tell this” reminds me of several instances in her statement to the judge that Eyes picks out. Including:  “I did my best, to give the same information over and over and over again” and “I tried to– re-express, re-explain what I had done”. As Eyes justifiably points out you don’t need to ‘re-express or ‘re-explain’ anything, just tell the judge your side of the story or preferably the truth.

There is a marked amount of difference in the style of storytelling Amanda adopts in the email and the method she adopts for her statement to the judge. In a few minutes of talking virtual gibberish Amanda does manage to express the following bits of information:

  • After the discovery of the body she spent a few days trying to help the police.
  • She wasn’t called to the police station with Raffaele but went because she didn’t want to be alone.
  • She was tired, stressed out and confused.
  • She was questioned but the questions became more aggressive, they wanted specific times and dates and information about the SMS she sent to Patrick.
  • She was called a liar, told she’d go to prison for 30 years and hit by a police officer
  • She was told a lawyer would have made things worse for her.
  • She was asked to sign a declaration with content she didn’t remember saying.

I was very interested in Eyes comments about the way Amanda was speaking and the contradictions in content, structure and meaning. I’m not sure how much Eyes knows about the details of the case but I thought it’d be interesting to take the points Amanda was trying to get across and see how they compare with what we already know. So with that in mind…

Let’s take this one apart

After the discovery of the body she spent a few days trying to help the police
This statement is slightly misleading: “After– the discovery of Meredith, I had spent days in– cooperating with the police, to try to just give as much information as I could.” Though it is true that Amanda was conversing with police and giving her side of the story after the discovery of the body, it wasn’t a matter of co-operating voluntarily she really had no choice. Amanda and Raffaele made themselves appear suspicious in the hours following the discovery of the body and if witness statements are anything to go by, Amanda may not have been as delighted to help the police as she and her family have continuously maintained.

Amanda complained about a lot of things in the police station in the hours following the discovery of the body all whilst Meredith’s friends and acquaintances grieved. One of Meredith’s English friends had this to say: “At the police station Raffaele was very quiet, nothing strong, but Amanda was always talking at the phone she was very affectionate to Raffaele but she would keep complaining: ‘I’m tired’, ‘I’m hungry’, ‘I’m thirsty’.” Not exactly the model of the little miss helpful witness wouldn’t you agree?

I also recall reading that Amanda complained that the police couldn’t keep her at their ‘beck and call’ all the time, not to mention her allegedly complaining to Patrick, who she later falsely accused, that he had no idea what it was like to be questioned by the police. He had this to say: “I told her I was so sorry about Meredith. She seemed completely normal. But she had a nasty look in her eye and simply said I had no idea what it was like to be probed by police for hours on end” This statement must seem eerily ominous to Patrick in hindsight, as Amanda later accused him of rape and murder.

Indeed if this part of her statement is to be true, the only way Amanda actually helped the police was by weaving such a loose tapestry of lies that they immediately began to unravel around her. The statement ‘trying to help’ also implies that she may have known she wasn’t helping possibly because the police had seen some obvious holes in her and Raffaele’s alibi. The realisation that the police were cottoning on to their possible involvement could have resulted in Amanda desperately trying to ‘re-remember’ or ‘re-explain’ certain facts to get the situation back under her control, but as Eyes quite rightly points out; you don’t ‘try’ to help the police by ‘re-examining’ or ‘re-remembering’ things, you either help or you don’t. On a similar note, you either remember accurate times and dates that correspond with the facts of the case and exonerate you or you don’t. The police generally find vague witness statements coupled with erratic behaviour suspicious.

On a similar note the FOA like to claim that Amanda’s ‘decision’ to stay in Perugia and ‘help’ the police is clearly evidence of her innocence, however there’s no chance she would have considered running away for fear of incriminating herself. If the allegations that a clean-up took place can be proven it seems unlikely that Amanda and Raffaele expected they’d be probed too deeply especially if they can be linked to attempting to shift the focus of blame entirely to Rudy Guede. It’s also useful to bear in mind that Amanda had not been cleared to leave Italy by the police so her ‘brave decision’ to stay and ‘help’ the police is merely smoke and mirrors.

She wasn’t called to the police station with Raffaele but went because she didn’t want to be alone

I find this statement ridiculous in the extreme: “The day of the fifth, I wasn’t called to the Questore. Raffaele was called, but I decided to go with him, to keep him company, but also because I was scared to be alone.” In her email Amanda describes how she walked calmly around her house; a house she suspected had been burgled. She describes the signs of a break in including a broken window, spots of blood and un-flushed faeces in a toilet bowl. So what did she do at this point? Call the police? Get the hell out of there? Nope, she took a shower. At no point in the email does Amanda mention being frightened, on the contrary her words describe the thoughts and actions of a person who knew very well what had happened, where Meredith was and that a lone predator wasn’t hiding in the laundry room waiting to pounce.

Why then does Amanda claim to have suddenly developed ‘the fear’ in a matter of days, where did this mysterious fear come from and why had nobody seen it before? Surely there was no further threat of danger? In any case was Raffaele the only person in Perugia who could have alleviated this mysterious fear, didn’t Amanda have any friends in Perugia she could have visited whilst Raffaele was talking with the police or had she perhaps alienated herself from them by behaving like a total maniac in the police station? What I find strange about this statement is that Amanda suddenly claims to be scared and therefore doesn’t want to be alone, yet she knew when she arrived at the police station that she’d be alone whilst Raffaele was being interviewed. It seems likely that Amanda was reluctant to let Raffaele out of her sight and it could be suggested that she was present at the police station to keep an eye on him. I don’t doubt Amanda was scared of something; most probably what Raffaele was saying in the interview room.

She was tired, stressed out and confused
Eyes makes the comment: “Does this make any sense? She couldn’t remember because she was tired? It was the middle of the night? Does anyone believe this is a good reason for a lack of all memory? When Amanda is telling us this, a year has passed from the crime, so why doesn’t she elaborate more in this statement? Why isn’t she setting the record straight for the judge here and now?”

Once again it seems that Eyes agrees with some peoples general consensus on Amanda’s various methods of avoiding answering the question or talking about what really happened that night. We’ve already heard: I was confused, I was tired, I don’t remember, I was stoned etc, etc and most will agree, including Lies it seems, that being tired or confused or as many medical papers will confirm, stoned, is not a valid reason for not cooperating with the police and telling the truth. Or at least a convincing enough ‘story’ that makes any kind of sense in the real world.

The contradictions in this statement tie in closely with her claims to have accompanied Raffaele to the police station because she was scared to be alone. Amanda was called into a room and questioned, she does not mention in her statement to the judge that it was at this point that she was informed that Raffaele was no longer providing her with an alibi, the police began questioning her about specific times and dates which she had trouble recalling, she says: “And was– it was difficult for me because it was in the middle of the night that I– we had been called. I was very tired. And I was also quite stressed out.” I find it even harder to understand why Amanda actually went to the police station with Raffaele when she also offers as an explanation for her confusion that night that she was tired and stressed out. I don’t know about you but if I was scared to be alone because my housemate had been murdered I’d go to a friend’s house, I certainly wouldn’t want to be sat in the lobby of a police station, similarly if I was tired and stressed out wouldn’t that be the worst place for me? All those uncomfortable chairs and bright lights, not to mention I’ve already implied to my former boss that all the questioning is extremely stressful. Perhaps instead I could take a long bath, watch a film to de-stress or go to bed and rest? Amanda also states “it was in the middle of the night that I – we had been called” when in reality Amanda had not been called in at all, Raffaele had. Why the contradiction? It’s blatantly false and implies that she had been called in for questioning when she hadn’t. I expect the police were wondering what the hell she was even doing there and why this weird couple were stuck together like glue.

From testimony given by one of the officers present in the police station it appears that Amanda may not have been as tired as she later claimed: “A few minutes later I walked past a room at the police station where she was waiting and I saw Amanda doing the splits and a cartwheel. It was around 11am on November 5th.” Telling indeed, stress perhaps or a little excess energy? It seems from the statements made by Amanda to the judge that she had been awake enough to accompany Raffaele to the police station and turn cartwheels, but had suddenly been cognitively incapacitated with fatigue the minute the police began asking her questions she didn’t want to answer.

She was questioned but the questions became more aggressive, they wanted specific times and dates and information about the SMS she sent to Patrick.

Amanda says: “ I didn’t understand. I became really confused. I tried to– re-express, re-explain what I had done– the fact that I didn’t have to go to work. At that point, they– I gave them my phone so they could see that I didn’t have to– I received– okay– okay– See – because I received an SMS, and for that reason, they kept repeating to me that I was lying about – SMS. I was confused.” Here is where we really start to see evidence of Amanda’s mini ‘breakdown’. Police officers have testified that she appeared distressed and kept hitting herself on the side of the head and it seems that talking about it causes some kind of stress reaction, you can hear it in her voice.

Amanda fails to mention that she accused Patrick when asked about an SMS she had sent to him on the night of the murder in response to his instruction telling her not to come to work that night. According to testimony from the head of the Perugia Flying Squad Rita Ficarra Amanda volunteered Patricks name when she was questioned about the SMS “she started crying and wrapping her hands around her head, she started shaking it, and then she said: it was him…Patrick killed her.” Anyone hearing the audio clip of her statement to the judge with no prior knowledge of the case would be forgiven for wondering why the questioning ‘suddenly’ became aggressive, but Amanda was being interviewed by an experienced officer with a case to solve. Officers who suspect you may have been involved in a murder they are investigating aren’t generally obligated to speak to you as if you were a member of the Royal family. Amanda’s interrogation may have been aggressive or she may have interpreted it that way having never seen or experienced that kind of questioning before. Plus Amanda is insinuating that there is somehow something wrong with the police attempting to clarify certain times and dates with Amanda especially seeing as she had all but admitted involvement at this point. It does not seem they were expecting or ready to receive the kind of information she gave them.

She was called a liar, told she’d go to prison for 30 years and hit by a police officer
As with the above it would be difficult to prove one way or another exactly what was said by the investigating officers or to what extent Amanda was ‘threatened’ by her interviewers without seeing a video or hearing a transcript of her interview. But remember, Amanda Knox does not have a very good track record for telling the truth, neither it seems does Raffaele. The Machine’s excellent post on TJMK outlines his whoppers in detail.

Amanda says: “They told me that I was– of all the things that I had kept saying, over and over again, they said that I was lying.” Amanda was probably called a liar because at that point, with the fact that her previous ‘version’ of events about spending the night at Raffaele’s house coupled with his retraction of her alibi blatantly contradicting her new ‘revelation’ about Patrick, I see no reason why I wouldn’t come to the same conclusion: She was or had been lying. Therefore it seems that the police were quite right and to be honest quite fair to call Amanda out for lying to them.

Amanda says: “They threatened that I was going to go in prison for 30 years because I was hiding something.” With regard to telling Amanda that she’d go to prison for 30 years, again we have no confirmation that this was said and if it was in what context. If the police genuinely believed that Amanda had been at the cottage that night then they’d also come to the logical conclusion that she may have been involved, if they believed they had a strong enough case to charge her then it also follows that if convicted she could face 30 years (or more) in prison.

Eyes says: “Why does she change “make me” which is a strong statement to “help me”, which is much softer? I find this odd. If someone is hitting me on the back of the head, they aren’t “helping me” do anything. They are making me forcefully and brutally react. Why aren’t her emotional memories matching her story? These words are red flags for me. This is an indication she is trying to manipulate things.”

And I have to agree, with regard to Amanda being hit by a police officer I’m extremely sceptical for a number of reasons, firstly officers present during her questioning have stated under oath that Amanda was never hit nor mistreated. Amanda’s lawyer said she was not hit. When Amanda informed the court she had been hit Mignini ordered an investigation with a possible further charge of slander brought if the allegations are confirmed to be false. Would Mignini risk being publicly embarrassed? Surely he knows she wasn’t hit and many suspect there is video evidence to support this conclusion. Amanda nor her lawyers never made a formal complaint with regard to these allegations so for now they remain, at best, mere allegations. I for one believe that these allegations if proven are precisely as Eyes suggests, an attempt at manipulation.

She was told a lawyer would have made things worse for her

Amanda says: “After that – at a certain point, I asked if I should have had a lawyer. And they said that it would have been worse for me.” At this point Amanda may still have been considered ‘a person aware of the facts’ and not a suspect. Under Italian law Amanda would only have been entitled to a lawyer if her status changed to that of a suspect, therefore the police were probably correct in their assertion, if Amanda required or was entitled to a lawyer she would have been considered a suspect and yes, things would have been a lot worse for her.

She was asked to sign a declaration with content she didn’t remember saying
Amanda says: “So they asked me to make declarations about what I remembered, but I told that I didn’t remember anything like this. Because I was confused. What I remembered was different from what they were asking me to say.” Amanda’s formal statement accusing Lumumba of murdering Meredith has not been admitted as evidence in the trial, however a handwritten note which Amanda gave to a police officer the next day has been accepted as evidence. In the note she says “I stand by my statements that I made last night about events that could have taken place in my home with Patrik, but I want to make very clear that these events seem more unreal to me that what I said before, that I stayed at Raffaele’s house.” The day the note was written Amanda had rested and eaten. Amanda was not tired or confused or stoned. If she perceived that the events of the previous night had spun out of control she could have taken the opportunity to immediately retract the accusations against Patrick but she didn’t, instead she kept him as the equivalent of her emergency credit card by writing a long warbled note about still being confused. Amanda attempts to distance herself from the false allegation in the statement to the judge by claiming to have been confused when she made her first declaration, yet she failed to retract the declaration the next day and instead wrote a note to police officers in which she agrees to stand by the original declaration. Unsurprisingly the handwritten note has been admitted as evidence for the slander charge against her.

Some ideas and conclusions

The Eyes for Lies analysis of the audio clip was interesting and insightful and supports a great deal of evidence we have so far suggesting that Amanda has on many occasions failed to tell the truth. This is further confirmed when we consider the context in which Amanda is speaking, the events she is referring to and the many contradictions in her version of events.

“And late at night whilst on all fours, she used to watch me kiss the floor. What’s wrong with this picture? What’s wrong with this picture?” – Placebo, ‘This Picture’

Imagine you knew nothing about Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito or the brutal murder they are accused of. Take a look at this picture and imagine you were the store owner who saw them in the ‘Bubble’ lingerie shop that day, what do you see?

I see a young couple, kissing and caressing each other and generally acting as if they haven’t a care in the world. I see two people who are deeply sexually attracted to each other and who can’t wait to get home for that ‘hot sex’ the store owner claims he overheard them discussing whilst browsing for and eventually purchasing a camisole and a g-string in his shop. If you imagine they were just another ordinary couple, excited, giggling and petting in your shop you’d be forgiven for muttering about ‘kids these days’ and carrying on with your work, but as Brian Molko would say, what’s wrong with this picture?

24 hours prior to the scenes captured on this CCTV footage, the young couple in the video, had been present when the body of Amanda’s 21 year old housemate Meredith Kercher was discovered in the house they shared with two Italian girls. A few days later the couple were arrested on suspicion of murder and sexual violence.

This picture marks the moment I ‘fell off the fence’ with regard to my own personal views about the the defendants Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito who are currently on trial for their part in the sexual assault and murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher.

Meredith’s partially clothed body was found concealed by a duvet on the floor of her bedroom on the 2nd November 2007. The medical examiner determined that before death she had most likely been sexually assaulted (by the now convicted Rudy Guede) and tortured with the blade of a 13.4 inch kitchen knife. Her throat had been savagely cut resulting in a slow and painful death.

Furthermore, the evidence suggests that Meredith had been locked in her room to die; her phones were stolen and thrown in a nearby garden to prevent what could have been her only remaining chance to be saved. The medical examiner Luca Lalli stated in a recent closed hearing that Meredith had in all likelihood been attacked by more than one assailant.

The evidence available so far indicates that one or all of the assailants ensured and took pleasure in Meredith Kercher’s suffering during the humiliating attack that resulted in her tragic death. The victim sustained numerous injuries as she was taunted with the knife, forcibly held and fought for her life. There is no doubt in my mind that the victim suffered a horrifying and sustained attack designed to invoke fear and to humiliate.

Motive and group dynamic

As yet the motive remains unclear. In a previous post I suggested that the murder of Meredith Kercher could be categorised as a sex related homicide and possibly one with a rape and/or sodomy motivation with humiliation and domination as a possible motive. This could fit with any number of scenarios including a premeditated plan to rape and/or kill or a ‘game’ designed to frighten or intimidate Meredith which got out of hand.

Both scenarios can be explained by a possible group dynamic or ‘pack mentality’ leading to the deindividuation of group members that could have resulted in the level of violence that night. This is an important point to consider as neither the convicted Rudy Guede nor the defendants Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have a history of violence.

In this post I also discussed possible roles within the group and a hierarchical structure with one or more of the assailants ‘falling into’ their individual role, one restraining the victim, one sexually assaulting her and the other facing the victim and taunting her with the tip of the knife. It seems likely that each individual had their own reasons for taking part in the attack and that certain fantasies or ideas came into play as a result

Despite the theory that a pack mentality resulted in the level of violence that night I also discussed the idea that this ‘group’ in all likelihood had a leader or a ‘puppet master’ pulling the strings and conducting the show, I suggested that this person was in all likelihood the knife wielder. DNA evidence has implicated Amanda Knox in this role.

The idea that there was a more dominant person in the room that night has troubled me, as has the evidence suggesting the apparent excitement of the defendants Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in the days following the murder, this coupled with the repeated use of the word in many blogs, news reports and forums and has done nothing to dissuade me that there may have been a sadist in the room that night.

The Sadist

Sadism is the act of deriving pleasure (often sexual) from inflicting or watching the suffering, humiliation or pain of others. The spectrum of sadism is wide and ranges from a person who enjoys dominating a willing partner as part of a healthy sexual relationship, to the more severe end of the spectrum which can include the torture, strangulation, rape or murder of an unwilling ‘participant’. Usually the signs of sexual sadism begin in adolescence or early adulthood. Clinicians charged with treating those at the more dangerous and severe end of the spectrum believe that this type of behaviour is usually chronic and increases in severity over time.

Some have theorised that certain individuals may go on to demonstrate sadistic tendencies as the result of a fragile childhood fraught with tension, abuse or violence, it could be argued that the uncertainty or powerlessness felt by these individual during times that are crucial to their individual development, could result in an attempt to compensate by being strong and tough to avoid feeling vulnerable, out of control or abandoned, the construction of these compensating drives could mingle with sexual ideas or fantasies during adolescence and early adulthood. This in turn could lead to a desire to dominate, control or humiliate others and derive sexual pleasure from it.

Research by Grey et al (2003) has indicated that all sorts of people from all walks of life engage in what is sometimes referred to as’ deviant sexual fantasising’, studies have also reported no significant gender differences in the frequency of sadistic sexual fantasies.

Some researchers believe certain childhood indicators could be linked to the development of deviant sexual fantasies in adolescence or early adulthood, some of these indicators include daydreaming, headaches, nightmares, poor body image, phobias and isolation. Behaviour indicators in adolescence and early adulthood include chronic masturbation, chronic lying and rebelliousness.

Some people who experience deviant sexual fantasies can later go on to act upon them, some may do so with a willing partner and some may go on to sexually assault, abuse or even kill. Possible behavioural indicators for sexual murder later in life, outlined by Burgess et al (1986) have also been seen in a non-offending group who also experienced deviant sexual fantasies.

In other words, attempting to pin-point whether deviant sexual fantasising is linked to behavioural clues in childhood or adolescence is too reductionist, people are so different and may go on to act on these sexual fantasies for different reasons and in different ways. It’s not always possible to tell who will act on these fantasies and if they do, who will take them too far and who will enjoy them as part of a healthy sex life.

Indeed, in certain cases it seems that the severity of these types of deviant sexual fantasies only becomes apparent when someone gets hurt or killed. It may also be the case that these fantasies and the desire to act upon them are only awakened upon an encounter or interaction with another human being who is or who the individual believes is a willing ‘partner’ in the fantasy.

Several female killers have reportedly been ‘drawn in’ to the world of BDSM and played along with or shared intimate sexual fantasies with a partner they later assisted in rape and murder. Myra Hindley is one example, Karla Homolka another.

A sadist in the room?

The evidence available so far indicates that the objective of the attack may have been to humiliate, dominate or control Meredith, possibly with the objective of ‘softening her up’ for a sexual assault or rape. Another possibility is the idea that they wanted to frighten Meredith and things got out of hand very quickly, these are just two of a number of scenarios put forward by various individuals following the case as to how the attack came about, but one factor remains constant and unchallengeable; the attack on Meredith was extremely brutal and sadistic.

Evidence of prolonged humiliation/suffering of the victim:

The evidence suggests that during the attack, the victim ceased to be a human being to the assailants and merely became a toy with which to do as they pleased. Evidence suggesting that the victim was subjected to an attack designed to control/dominate/humiliate and/or prolong her fear and suffering includes:

  • Injuries consistent with being forcibly and very roughly restrained
  • Some of the victim’s clothes were removed
  • Evidence of sexual assault (possible rape motive)
  • Knife wounds indicating she was taunted and tortured prior to death
  • Manual strangulation
  • Extremely violent slow and painful death (overkill)
  • The victim was locked away to die alone and in pain
  • The victim was denied any chance to call for help by having her lifeline (the phones) removed

Bruising to the victim’s lips as well as injuries to her neck and throat suggests any pleas and cries for help or mercy went unnoticed or were disregarded. The victim was completely under the control of the assailants. It could be argued that the injuries sustained by the victim increased as a result of her attempting to free herself from their grasp, as the evidence suggests this could be the case it could also be argued that the aim of the attack was to make Meredith submissive to the individual ‘needs’ or ‘desires’ of the group. For Rudy this could have been the desire to have sex with Meredith, for Amanda and Raffaele this could have been the desire to see her humiliated and frightened.

Evidence to suggest the assailants may have derived sexual pleasure from the humiliation and suffering of the victim

The evidence of a group dynamic leading to this level of violence sadly does not surprise me. In many cases of group initiated violence the victim suffers injuries above and beyond what is necessary to kill, this is referred to by law enforcement agencies as overkill. However, one of the most tragic and horrific aspects of this case is the brutal and degrading final hour of Meredith’s life as the result of an act I am convinced was designed and executed to ensure total suffering, control and humiliation, this fact is crucial in terms of understanding the etiology of this crime.

Rudy Guede
Despite having taken part in a brutal and senseless crime against another human being I do not believe Rudy Guede was sexually aroused by what he saw that night, in fact I believe he was sat on the toilet having ‘bottled it’, probably unable to ‘perform’. He did not call for an ambulance; he did not attempt to save the victim instead he ran like a coward, but I suspect that his motivation for running was cowardice rather than the enjoyment of ensuring the victim suffered. Rudy Guede deserves his 30 year sentence and so far he has done nothing to bring closure to the victims long suffering family yet I do not believe he was the instigator or ‘puppet master’ that night. He is to put it plainly, too much of a coward.

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito

During the attack
The suspected murder weapon contains Amanda’s DNA on the handle of the knife and the victims DNA on this tip; this suggests that Amanda wielded the knife, tortured and eventually killed Meredith Kercher. The crime reconstruction has suggested that Raffaele restrained Meredith and if this is the case it was he that caused the bruises on her arms and lips as well as the broken hyoid bone in her neck. It could also have been Raffaele that attempted to strangle the victim. The crime reconstruction, supported by forensic evidence, has placed AK and RS firmly at the centre of this crime in an attack designed to ensure Meredith was humiliated, afraid and suffering.

If the motive for the attack was just to frighten Meredith how and why did things go this far? If the motive was to sexually assault the victim why did she sustain injuries consistent with torture? Torturing the victim would have no logical role in either the ‘game’ or the ‘rape’ scenario and therefore we could conclude that the person wielding the knife gained some sort of enjoyment from the reaction of the victim to the injuries being inflicted.

Similarly it seems that the victim was overly and very forcibly restrained. It could be argued that the presence of the knife would have been sufficient to ensure ‘compliance’, Meredith bravely fought for her life and I believe the victim was informed of her imminent ‘fate’ resulting in a struggle and an increase in the level of violence to ensure she was at all times under the assailants control.

The evidence suggests that AK and RS were present when Meredith was sexually assaulted and it could be argued that it was the knowledge of this assault that resulted in the crime scene being staged to look like a rape in order to lead investigators to focus on the evidence they knew would implicate Guede. No DNA evidence has been found which suggests that AK and RS sexually assaulted Meredith but the evidence does suggest they watched. It is certainly possible that they gained some sort of twisted pleasure from watching Meredith suffer this terrible indignity.

After the murder
Following the discovery of the body AK and RS aroused the suspicion of the investigating officers and those close to Meredith by acting inappropriately. Testimony from several of Meredith’s English friends and others has indicated that Amanda and Raffaele displayed overtly sexualised behaviour in the police station following the discovery of the body. They allegedly kissed, cuddled, hugged, whispered and pulled faces at each other, at one point Amanda put her feet on Raffaele and sat on his lap. In the hours following the discovery of the body this behaviour indicates they were in some way aroused.

When one of Meredith’s English friends expressed the wish that Meredith didn’t suffer, Amanda allegedly informed her that Meredith had “f*****g bled to death” before being so kind as to inform the horrified girl that Meredith “would have died slowly and in a lot of pain.” I find it hard to believe that anyone could interpret this statement as anything other than callous and disgusting, given the information we have now and the evidence that suggests her own involvement it seems Amanda may have derived some sort of pleasure from the reaction to it. Amanda seemed excited at the police station and informed another of Meredith’s English friends that she could fill her in on any details she needed to know. Amanda seemed ‘proud of finding the body’ even though the officers later testified she hadn’t been able to see into the room.

The following day the couple were seen in the ‘Bubble’ lingerie store kissing, hugging, petting, laughing and seemingly having a whale of a time. Amanda bought a camisole top and a g-string, they discussed the ‘hot sex’ they were going to have once they got back to Raffaele’s apartment. The store owner clearly thought their conduct in the store that day was suspicious enough to alert the police who catalogued it alongside the mounting circumstantial evidence of inappropriate behaviour.

Two days after the murder Amanda sent an email to 23 of her family and friends making crude references to the blood in the bathroom possibly being from ‘menstrual issues’ Meredith was having, she also discussed how the police had asked her if Meredith liked anal sex and if she ever used Vaseline. I find it hard to believe that these are reasonable things to write under any circumstance and certainly not considering the subject of the email, they are deeply personal and it could be argued that Amanda enjoyed the further indignity to Meredith by sharing it with her friends and family as if it was meaningless gossip.

This callous and sexualised post crime behaviour must have seen particularly chilling when more evidence came to light and the two were arrested.

Sexually Deviant Fantasies?

Amanda’s short story ‘Baby Brother’ contains references to a rapist. She also wrote to a former boyfriend discussing how she wanted to watch and put some porn ‘into practice’ with him. Though the sex with a stranger on a train and the presence of the vibrator in the bathroom seems like ‘nothing’ it does help to paint the picture of a sexually vivacious young woman who quickly began a very intense relationship with a quiet and possibly disturbed young man.

Similarly Raffaele does not appear to be out of the ordinary with regard to his sexual tastes, he was a virgin when he met Amanda who enjoyed violent manga, watched some extreme pornography (what young man hasn’t?) and collected knives, this could have led to some deviant sexual fantasies but as the literature indicates these are perfectly normal for both men and women.

It does seem that AK and RS became sexually obsessed with each other very quickly and upon meeting Amanda allegedly spent virtually every night with him. Though it is not clear what the motive for the attack on Meredith was, it could be suggested that humiliation or a desire to control and inflict suffering was conscious or unconscious factor. They could have shared sexual fantasies or brought out something in each other that they had not acted on previously, had not anticipated or thought they could control.

If this is the case and one or both of the defendants were acting upon dormant sexually deviant fantasies that night it could help to explain the humiliation and suffering Meredith endured and the strange sexualised post crime behaviour that disturbed so many.

In writing this post I’d like to extend my gratitude to Stuarthome2000, the thoughtful citizen of Perugia who has kindly given up his valuable time to provide all TJMK and PMF readers with factual and up to date information from the courtroom. There is a great deal of detail in his reports, detail that would probably not be found in newspapers who merely sum up the most dramatic events of the day, nor would they be found in one particular blog from a ‘reporter’ who claims to be objectively blogging about the case from his courtroom seat.

The Witnesses

I have written a quick rundown of the witnesses and their testimony from last weekend’s trial dates, more information and detail from Stuarthome2000’s fantastic posts on Friday and Saturday’s trial dates can be found at True Justice for Meredith Kercher

Friday the 27th March:
Saw testimony from Nara Capezzali the 69 year old widow who reported getting up to go to the bathroom on the night of the murder at around 11 or 11.30pm and hearing a chilling and disturbing scream coming from the cottage. A few minutes later she reported hearing the sounds of at least two people running in different directions. Ms Capezzali reported hearing the sound of footsteps on the metal stairs next to the parking facility outside her apartment; she also reported hearing footsteps on the pavement below and rustling in some nearby bushes. Ms Capezzali recalled being so disturbed by the scream that she was unable to sleep that night. She made herself some camomile tea before finally settling down in the early hours of the morning. Similarly, Maria Luisa Dramis reported hearing someone running up or down her street on the night of the murder at around 11 or 11.30pm. Antonella Morlacchia who lives in an apartment with a clear view of the cottage reported hearing a man and a woman arguing at around 10pm on the night of the murder.

The court also heard from Giampaolo Lombardi, the tow truck driver seen by alleged ‘super witness’ Hekuran Kokomani on the night of the murder. Lombardi testified as to having seen a dark coloured car parked in the driveway of the cottage that night, the prosecution alleges this is significant as the defendant Raffaele Sollecito drove a dark coloured Audi. The testimony of the witnesses Francesco Tavernese, Leonardo Fazio, and Antonio Galizzi were concerned with the character of Raffaele Sollecito, his time in the ONASI student centre in Perugia and his conduct in his hometown of Bari in Southern Italy. This testimony revealed that RS was shy and bashful, enjoyed kickboxing and was once arrested for possession of hashish, however drug searches in his halls of residence found nothing except for some pornography that ranged in taste from ‘normal’ to ‘extreme’.

The testimony of Leonardo Fazio, a friend of RS at the ONASI student centre corroborated the assertion that RS is shy and liked to visit the gym. Fazio also stated that he had seen RS and his co-defendant Amanda Knox in the days following the murder acting normally as if nothing had happened. This seems to both corroborate and refute testimony from Meredith’s English friends who remember Amanda and Raffaele acting ‘oddly’ at the police station after the body had been found, though it could be stated that Amanda and Raffaele behaved  like a ‘normal’ couple following the murder by kissing and petting outside the house and in the police station, going for a pizza, flirting with each other and making, for want of a better word, a ‘scene’ in a local lingerie shop, we could also conclude that AK and RS behaved anything other than normal following the murder by acting cold, distant and so strangely that it immediately roused the suspicion of people close to Meredith and investigating officers who quickly began covert surveillance of them.

Saturday the 28th March:
Saw impressive and potentially damning testimony from Antonio Curatolo the 53 year old homeless man who spends a lot of time in Piazza Grimana which has a good view of the gate leading to the cottage. His testimony was supposedly clear and concise; it appears that Curatolo is no fool and that he definitely knows what he saw. Curatolo claims he saw a man and a woman in Piazza Grimana at around 9.30 or 10pm on the night Meredith was murdered. When asked to describe the couple he pointed at Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. He stated that they may have left the Piazza at around 11-11.30pm but definitely returned before midnight. Curatolo stated that he saw RS looking towards the gate leading to the cottage where Meredith was killed. According to a report from Ann Wise, Curatolo also claims to have seen the couple talking animatedly. Curatolo’s testimony is crucial as it places Knox and Sollecito in the vicinity of the cottage on the night of the murder when they have both claimed to be at RS’s apartment. Amanda’s lawyer Luciano Ghirga made a statement to reporters alleging that Amanda was unhappy with Curatolo’s testimony he said: “Amanda was not happy with what Curatolo had to say, because she was not there that night”, funny then that she chose not to rise and refute the testimony of this key witness by addressing the court as she is legally entitled to do under Italian law.

Raffaele Sollecito however, did address the court in response to testimony from Fabrizio Giofreddi who claims to have seen Knox, Sollecito, the victim and he alleges, with 99% certainty, Rudy Guede leaving the cottage together on the 30th October 2007. Sollecito firmly stated to the court that this witness could not have seen the four together as he had never met Rudy Guede.

The court also heard from the hugely criticised and reportedly unreliable ‘super witness’ Hekuran Kokomani who claims to have driven up to Amanda and Raffaele who were lying in the road outside the cottage on the night of the murder. Kokomani claims to have had an altercation with RS and also claims that Amanda pulled out a large knife, raised it above her head and began cursing him in Italian, he then claims to have thrown some black olives and an old Nokia phone at Amanda before taking a picture of her and RS which he later deleted, he then claims to have bumped into Rudy Guede who told him that the knife in Amanda’s hand had been used to cut the cake at a ‘party’ in the cottage. Kokomani is currently being held on drugs charges after 8 grams of cocaine were found in his house. His testimony was reportedly all over the place and it probably didn’t impress the jury and it also seems that the witness may have been talking about the night of the 31st October 2007 and not the night of the murder. Antonio Aiello, Kokomani’s lawyer took the stand to state that Kokomani had contacted him with regard to what he had seen, Kokomani agreed that his tale could wait until the lawyer returned from his holiday. Upon his return Aiello agreed to accompany Kokomani to the police station to make his statement and admitted that even he did not really understand what Kokomani claims to have seen.

The witnesses summarised
So in short we have three witnesses that claim to have heard unusual sounds coming from the direction of the cottage on the night of the murder we also have three witnesses that report seeing the defendants or a car potentially belonging to one of them in the vicinity of the cottage that night, this is damaging as they both claim to have been at RS’s apartment all night. We also have a witness that claims to have seen RS, AK, RG and the victim together two days before Meredith was killed.  Both defendants deny ever meeting or socialising with Rudy Guede. This testimony seems to refute previous testimony from Meredith’s English friends who had never seen them together or heard her mention his name.

On a little side note I find it interesting that two witnesses stated that RS was sporty, one stated that he enjoyed kickboxing. If RS was fit and did kickboxing why then does he say he wasn’t strong enough to break down Meredith’s door when she didn’t respond? So either we have a regular gym goer and a kick boxer who couldn’t break down a door (despite another young man on the scene being able to do so) or we have yet another big fib from Raffaele.

But how reliable are these witnesses? It seems that their testimony is crucial to the prosecution’s case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. Does their testimony tell us anything about what happened that night or have any implications for our understanding of the crime?

Eyewitness Testimony

The reliability of eyewitness testimony has long been debated amongst psychologists and the general consensus is that eyewitnesses, on the whole either believe they have seen more than they actually have or deny what they have seen is important or relevant. Some of the factors involved in determining the reliability of a witness include:

  • Age (children are much less reliable than adults as witnesses)
  • Mental competency
  • Level of intoxication at the time of the ‘incident’
  • Drug/alcohol dependency
  • Eye sight/hearing or whether the ‘incident’ was obstructed from view
  • Weapon focus
  • Trauma
  • Attention i.e. how much they were focusing on what they were doing at the time the ‘incident’ occurred.

What took them so long?

Good defence lawyers like Giulia Buongiorno sometimes make mincemeat out of witnesses and often attempt to do so because they know that psychology research has picked several gaping holes in the reliability of eyewitness testimony. One of the points that a good defence lawyer will use in an attempt to discredit the witness is the length of time it took for the witness to make a statement to the police with information that later forms the basis of their court testimony, it is important that the witness is interviewed according to correct procedure and that they are clear of all details related to the statement which may be relevant upon cross examination by defence lawyers.

Investigators must be careful not to lead the witness during the initial interview (and in court) as this can encourage false memory ‘reconstruction’ whereby details are altered or added to the original story through suggestion by the interviewer, these details may be false or misleading. Some witnesses are more ‘suggestible’ than others, especially if they have a great deal of respect for the police or are trying to please investigating officers. The interviewer must strike an appropriate balance between encouraging the witness to think back and remember as much detail as they can and pressing them on issues which the interviewer believes may be crucial to the investigation. It’s a very fine balance and unfortunately, interviewers often get it wrong.

During last Friday’s hearing, Buongiorno fiercely grilled the 69 year old widow Nara Capezzali as to why it had taken her 20 days to come forward with information about what she had heard that night. From her window Ms Capezzali saw the arrival of the police and the crime scene investigators and was told about the murder at a magazine kiosk in Piazza Grimana the next day. Buongiorno grilled Ms Capezzali so hard about not coming forward sooner and not mentioning that she had drank a cup of chamomile tea to settle her down in her original statement, that Ms Capezzali began to cry in court possibly through frustration or intimidation. Ms Capezzali reiterated that what she heard that night was reliable and true as it had upset her. This may have impacted upon the jury who could either perceive her as being too ‘old and scatty’ to be reliable or it, more likely may have evoked a certain degree of sympathy which may ensure her testimony is well remembered and considered by the jury.

During a trial as high profile and with as much information as this, the jury are literally bombarded with information, information they are expected to remember and consider over a long period of time. The trial began on the 16th January 2009 and is expected to continue until at least the autumn, it may even continue into 2010 and it is important for both the prosecution and the defence to make an equal impact upon the jury. Nara Capezzali’s tears are sure to be remembered, as is the laugher that Stuarthome2000 reported, resulting from a big presumption made by Giulia Buongiorno as to how homeless Curatolo could have possibly known it was 9.30pm when he saw Amanda and Raffaele in Piazza Grimana, his response? “Because the sign next to the piazza has a digital clock”, he also added “and I have a watch”. Buongiorno must have been furious with herself for making the ridiculous assumption that Curatolo could not or did not have the means to tell the time and I have no doubt that the resulting laughter from this presumptuous slip-up will play a small part in ensuring the jury remember the crucial testimony of Antonio Curatolo.

Witnesses Fabrizio Giofreddi and Antonella Morlacchia were both asked why it took so long for them to come forward with the information that formed the basis of their testimony. Giofreddi stated that he was not following the case and as such had no idea it would be relevant, fortunately he told his Spanish professor what he had seen who encouraged him to go to the police. Similarly, Antonella Morlacchia did not think what she had heard was relevant either but was also encouraged to go to the police upon talking to one of her friends who happened to be a journalist.

Supposed ‘super witness’ Hekuran Kokomani was reluctant to talk to police until he had consulted his lawyer Antonio Aiello who later accompanied him to the police station to make a statement. Since he has now been arrested for possession of cocaine it would be fairly safe to assume that Kokomani was reluctant to share what he had seen for reasons much different to the other witnesses.

Factors involved in a witness coming forward with information relevant to a serious crime investigation

There many factors involved when a witness debates whether or not to go to the police with information relevant to a criminal investigation, aside from a witness not realising the importance of the information because they have not been following the investigation in the papers or on the TV, some of these factors can include:

Fear of wasting police time, not being believed or that information is irrelevant
A lot has been made of ‘wasting police time’ and older people in particular are more likely to deny the importance of what they have seen, this may be because some older people perceive they would be wasting the time of the authorities by coming forward with details about what they have seen or heard, thinking their information is ‘irrelevant’ or ‘nothing’. As a result of this some (particularly older) witnesses like Nara Capezzali are reluctant to come forward and share with police what they have seen or heard possibly due to a belief that as they are old their memory will be deemed unreliable, often these older witnesses are sharp and observant, especially if they live alone and spend a great deal of time looking out of the window or ‘snooping’ through the curtains. Older witnesses are often good time keepers and have a reasonably good memory, unless they have a condition which influences their memory or mental state. Sadly they are the often ones least likely to come forward, sometimes through a fear of wasting police time or not being believed. They may also be nervous about giving testimony or frightened of retaliation for doing so.

Fear of the police
In the same way that some witnesses have a lot of respect for, or are overly keen to help the police some are quite literally terrified at the very thought of having anything to do with the police or helping with a criminal investigation. This could be because they are involved in criminal activity, take illegal drugs, have been in trouble with the police themselves or have had a negative experience with the police in the past for whatever reason. Hekuran Kokomani was in all likelihood reluctant to go to the police as the discovery of 8 grams of cocaine in his house indicates he was either a heavy user or a small time drug dealer. Bringing his lawyer to the police station also indicates that Kokomani had a certain level of paranoia about law enforcement officials and associated being at the police station with needing to have a lawyer present. Though his testimony was disjointed and bizarre, Kokomani originally reported seeing the breakdown truck and his cell phone was pinged in the vicinity on the nights of the 31st October and 1st November, despite this I believe the jury will have trouble believing his testimony as it quite frankly seems too unlikely and too disjointed to be true, it also sounds as if Kokomani has attempted to weave into his ‘story’ certain facts that later became apparent, such as the presence of the knife he claims he saw in the newspaper. As Kokomani waited until his lawyer returned before making his statement he could have read a lot about the case and may have inserted a few extra details in order that his story sound more ‘believable’.  It will be interesting to keep an eye on developments surrounding Kokomani’s drug use/possible dealing as his presence near the cottage on the night of the murder or the night of Halloween could be relevant to the case. Similarly, as a homeless man, Curatolo may have been wary of the police or had dealings with them in the past yet I believe his decision to testify “because it is a question of conscience” makes him a more reliable and honest witness.

Bystander Effect
In areas that are quite densely populated it is common to see a kind of diffusion of responsibility in witness reporting. Some witnesses mistakenly believe that someone else must have heard what they heard or saw what they saw and will report it to the police instead. Some people do not go to the police under the mistaken belief that someone else already has or will! A tragic example of this is the murder of Kitty Genovese. It may well have been that someone else in the apartments above the cottage heard or saw something that night and didn’t come forward for this very reason.

Reliability of Witness Testimony

For the reasons listed above I believe it is unfair simply to criticise or discount the reliability of the witness testimony seen over the weekend solely on how long it took the witness to come forward with the information relevant to the investigation. However, the amount of time taken to come forward with this information could have had an effect on the ability of the witness to accurately recall specific details, as may the way they were interviewed and the questions they were asked when making the initial statement.

A number of the witnesses did not come forward until well after the crime had been committed yet some of them explained that they not feel their testimony was important or relevant to the case. These witnesses were encouraged by others who, upon hearing about what the witness had seen or heard promptly told them to go to the police, which they did. If the witnesses genuinely believed they had heard nothing or the defence claim they cannot possibly remember due to the passing of time, why then do several of the witnesses claim to have accurately remembered what they saw or heard up to a year after the murder was committed? This may in part be explained by the news of the murder spreading through Perugia which may have cemented in the witness’s minds the things they saw or heard on the days leading up to and the night of the murder. Some of these witnesses remembered enough to tell a friend what they had seen, why then should we discount them by assuming they cannot tell the court the same thing?

In a previous post I discussed how Knox and Sollecito’s claim to have been so stoned on the night of the murder they cannot remember what happened could affect their long term memory recall of the night in question; this could influence a witness in the same way. If a witness decided their testimony was not important or relevant they may cast it aside and this action may influence subsequent memory recall and be clouded over time. Similarly, a witness in their desire to help the police or be involved in the investigation may be open to suggestion or leading questions that could alter or obscure what they really saw on the night in question.

As Curatolo was homeless he may have spent a great deal of time ‘people watching’ or just watching the world go by, I’d be willing to bet that he has seen a thing or two around Perugia and has a good memory for people and places. He may or may not have been in trouble with the police but we could suggest that Curatolo has no particular allegiance with them either. Because of this he would be less likely to try and ‘please’ them with what they want him to have seen in favour of testifying to what he actually saw: Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in Piazza Grimana looking towards the cottage where Meredith Kercher was murdered on the night of the 1st November 2007, when both defendants have claimed to be elsewhere.

Aside from Antonio Curatolo, one specific witness the court has seen so far which has stuck in my mind is Marc Quintovalle, the shop owner who testified as to having seen Amanda Knox in his shop early in the morning before the body of Meredith Kercher was discovered later that afternoon, this testimony is crucial as Knox claims to have been in bed with Sollecito at the time. Knox did not choose to stand and refute the testimony given by Mr Quintovalle. Quintovalle remembered Knox’s distinctive features and all but stated he found the defendant attractive to the court. I believe that his mild attraction to Knox and in particular her distinctive blue eyes coupled with the events that unfolded later that day cemented in his mind the brief meeting her had with her in his shop that morning.

Some Ideas and Conclusions

Though the witness testimony we have seen so far could in certain instances be unreliable and on its own should not form the basis for a case, it does help to put the events of the evening in some sort of context. It also helps with establishing the timeline of events that night and gives some sort of human ‘face’ to the evidence.

It has been noted that Amanda in particular has not stood and addressed the court as she is entitled to do in defence of testimony from various witnesses that place her outside RS’s apartment on the night of the murder, something a jury would expect her to do should she disagree with the testimony of the witness. As a result of this the jury may conclude that her reluctance to refute this testimony implies she does not dispute it’s reliability, which in turn implies she was not at the apartment with RS as she claims.

With regard to how long it took some of the witnesses to come forward I would agree that in most cases this may influence memory recall of the event, however the witness testimony we have seen so far (with the exception of Kokomani) has been received well, has showed continuity and has in certain cases refuted the defendants weak alibi as to their actions and whereabouts on the night in question.

It does matter when the witnesses decided to come forward and that will influence the reliability of their testimony, however at this important stage of the trial, the witnesses are not really contradicting themselves and bear in mind they are often being cross-examined by the ruthless and probably terrifying Buongiorno if and when they do, this is in stark contrast to Amanda and Raffaele who have contradicted themselves many times and will continue to do so until they start telling the truth.

The murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher is amongst the most sadistically executed crimes I have ever come across. Despite loud protests from the defendants supporters who, by criticising the investigation and judicial process, seek to nullify the evidence put forward so far, this crime is and will remain a fascinating example of group violence.

Psychologists have been studying the behaviour of groups for decades and this has not been without its fair share of criticism. Early studies from eminent psychologists like Prof Philip Zimbardo have cemented ethical restrictions and guidelines on psychology research in the hope that any mistakes made by psychologists in the past will not be replicated at the expense of willing participants in the future. Unfortunately, a lot of current social, clinical and forensic psychology research on, particularly group behaviour, is based in part on instances of group violence where the ‘participant’ was anything other than willing.

When I first started reading about this case, even before I’d come across TJMK, PMF or Perugia Shock, before I knew anything concrete about the defendants post crime behaviour or had access to information that has now confirmed my suspicion, I remember my immediate thought being: more than one person was involved in this. I am and have always been of the opinion that this crime makes absolutely no sense as a single perpetrator offence; indeed one of the things that stumped me from the beginning was the lack of evidence of any kind of history of violence in any of the accused, this is in part explained by the evidence of a group dynamic which could have contributed to the level of violence in the house that night.

If we exclude the involvement of the defendants Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, the likelihood of seeing this level of violence as a first offence, especially coupled with the suggestion that Rudy Guede was originally there to steal, would all but evaporate.

Concerning Rudy Guede as a lone wolf killer

As I discussed in a previous post, the murder of Meredith Kercher can be classified as a sex related homicide. I spend a great deal of time reading literature relevant to these sorts of cases in order that I can better understand the types of people that commit violent sexual homicides and their reasons for doing so. According to a research article published in the American Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 82% of those who commit violent sexual homicides have a history of violent offences; many of them have already served time for sexual assault, GBH, armed robbery etc.

Guede had no history of violence in fact he had no record at all, not even for drug dealing as was previously thought. According to the same research article, murders committed by offenders with no history of violent behaviour are usually crimes of passion or the result of a mis/undiagnosed mental health problem. Guede did not know Meredith; Guede had no reason to go to the cottage alone, he was not in a relationship with her, in fact the two probably never even spoke and if they did the conversation probably wouldn’t have lasted more than ten seconds. Crime of passion? I think not.

Likewise with mental illness, the sorts of mental health problems that can lead to these kinds of spontaneous violent offences are often serious mental health conditions like schizophrenia and other delusional disorders; they are often debilitating and require ongoing medical treatment and assessment. Guede had friends and acquaintances and what appeared to be a fairly active social life in Perugia, if he had been delusional or ‘hearing voices’ I’m fairly sure it would have been noted by now and the defence teams for Amanda and Raffaele would have picked up on it in an instant. Similarly, if Guede had any kind of serious or debilitating mental health condition it would almost certainly have been a factor in the sentencing report and his competency to stand trial would have been called into question. This was not the case and the evidence available so far indicates that Guede was competent to stand trial and therefore it can be assumed he is able to understand right and wrong and with it, the implications of his actions that night. I see no evidence to suggest he is mentally ill.

Balance of probability

Though it is not completely unheard of for an individual with no history of violent behaviour to commit violent sexual homicide, these cases are nearly always crimes of passion or result from the actions of a person with serious untreated mental health problems, this is well supported by research in internationally renowned journals on forensic psychology and psychiatry.

Those who support the FOA and criticise the investigation are welcome to do so but continuing to assert supreme confidence in the lone wolf theory attempts to challenge pretty much every single piece of forensic literature on violent offenders there is. This has not been an easy task, which is why, rather than discussing case scenarios on these blogs, those who have ‘burdened’ themselves with the enormous task of challenging every bit of evidence against Amanda and Raffaele with the unparalleled arrogance and blatant assumption that: “everyone else is wrong  or lying and we are right, evidence doesn’t matter or doesn’t exist because we don’t want it to or because we don’t have an explanation for it, therefore it’s wrong, wrong, wrong and so are you!”

Oddly enough this strategy isn’t doing the defendants any favours, it might work online but it won’t work in the place that really matters: court. This is why these blogs have been confined to discussing the specific wording of the text message written by Amanda Knox to Patrick Lumumba on the night of the 1st of November 2007, which, despite being ever so slightly case relevant, does not change or alter the FACT that Amanda Knox falsely implicated Patrick Lumumba in the murder of Meredith Kercher for which he subsequently spent two weeks in jail and is now suing her for slander. Neither does endlessly discussing whether or not Amanda Knox was hit on the back of the head change or alter the FACT that there is DNA evidence linking her and Raffaele Sollecito to the crime scene, this is why both are on trial to determine their individual level of involvement in the murder of Meredith Kercher.

The lone wolf theory can be disbanded simply with a balance of probability. What are the chances of Rudy Guede, a young man with no history of violence, no criminal record and no recorded drug problem deciding to randomly go to the house of a girl he barely knew (or did not know at all) in order to sexually assault and kill her? What are the chances of him scaling a wall in order to break into the apartment when other points of entry would have been easier? What are the chances of him selecting that house to burgle if this was his primary motivation? What are the chances of him, independently and without consultation from the defendants or anyone else with access to this type of knowledge, knowing that Meredith Kercher would be home alone on the night of the 1st November 2007?

Then compare that with the chances of two young people being involved, both of whom knew Meredith. Amanda knew her well and lived with her. Amanda also had a key to the cottage that night and knew Meredith would be home alone. Amanda may have had a problem with anger and possibly projected this onto Meredith; she may have even hated her and there was tension between them. Then add to the equation Raffaele, a rich, spoiled kid with a major drug problem, an extensive knife collection and a penchant for violent Japanese manga comics. He lived just around the corner from Guede and could have known him or met him briefly, Amanda knew Rudy through the boys in the downstairs apartment. Even if we ignore the DNA evidence, the injuries sustained by the victim, the staging and the clean-up, the involvement of these two in addition to Guede makes a lot more sense and on a balance of probability is far more credible than any kind of lone wolf killer. Plus, the police investigating the murder had cottoned on to the odd behaviour of Amanda and Raffaele before they arrested or suspected anyone else’s involvement.

This circumstantial evidence, coupled with reliable DNA evidence which includes Raffaele’s DNA on a bra strap in a room he supposedly never entered, a knife found at Raffaele’s house, a place Meredith had never been, with Amanda’s DNA on the handle and the victims on the tip, coupled with the lies and the defendants complete lack of an alibi for their actions and whereabouts on the night of the murder really doesn’t bode well at all. How the three ended up in the room is interesting but essentially incidental, DNA evidence places all three at the scene.

Group Theory

At this point you may be wondering how Rudy’s lack of violent history is seemingly more important than Amanda and Raffaele’s, indeed you would be correct in the assumption that they are all just as unlikely candidates for a lone wolf killer as each other, but the point is, neither of them were lone wolf killers, there were in effect all part of a ‘gang’ and as such, their actions and behaviour would have been decidedly different.

There have only ever really been a handful of theories about who was present that night and the only one that suggests the crime was committed by Guede alone has already been discredited, even by Guede himself who is now claiming (whether we believe him or not) that he was not the only person in the house with Meredith that night. Guede was indisputably present in the cottage but has now claimed in his recent appeal that he was on the toilet at the time of the fatal knife wound resulting from an attack which began as the result of a row between Amanda and Meredith over stolen rent money.  At this point in time and with the evidence available so far, it is pretty clear that Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede were all present in the house that night and all took part in the sexual assault and murder of Meredith Kercher. This in itself suggests a gang attack which, according to current theory on group violence could explain how three people with no history of violence could attack and kill a young woman in such a brutal way and then refuse to say a single word to implicate the other during the investigation, probably in order to ensure that in keeping this pact of silence they would not implicate themselves.

Evidence suggesting group attack/behaviour and ‘team work’

Crime Reconstruction

The evidence available so far indicates that Meredith was attacked by three people. She had 47 separate injuries on her body when she died; some were consistent with being forcibly held by her arms, whilst someone taunted her with the blade of a knife. Reconstruction of the attack places Guede behind Meredith sexually assaulting her, Raffaele to the side restraining her and Amanda facing the victim with the knife. Guede’s DNA found inside the victim, bruises on the victims arms and the DNA found on the knife supports this reconstruction. The reconstruction of the crime scene implies each individual had a ‘role’ in the attack which is indicative of a group/pack mentality.

Clean up and staging
The evidence suggests that the crime scene was staged; to suggest a burglary and a rape had taken place. Amanda and Raffaele have been charged with altering a crime scene. Rudy Guede was seen in town by a number of witnesses whilst the staging and extensive cleanup of the cottage was taking place. The clean up was good, but not good enough, DNA evidence implicating both defendants has been found. The clean up and staging suggests an element of team work. Similarly, the evidence suggests that Amanda and Raffaele cleaned up their own involvement which also implies they were willing to ‘frame’ Rudy as a sole perpetrator, which could also tell us something about the dynamic of the group and the perceived ‘importance’ of each individual within the ‘hierarchy’ of the group.

Silence pact
It appears that a silence pact is in place,  like a ‘what happened in the cottage stays in the cottage’ pact, it appears there is some sort of agreement between Amanda and Raffaele, either to avoid implicating themselves or some kind of joint solidarity. I find it interesting that Amanda voluntarily chose to go to the police station with Raffaele without needing to do so. Their behaviour following the discovery of the body was almost mirrored. Their continued behaviour reminds me of a pact, as does their refusal to speak about Guede.

Impact of group dynamic and implications for our understanding of the crime

Research has indicated that people fall into specific ‘roles’ within groups and are used to fulfilling different roles which are dependent on specific sets of circumstances and social surroundings. Some people are leaders and therefore more dominant, others prefer to blend into the background or provide support to the more dominant members of the ‘pack’.

Hierarchy is extremely important, without it society would struggle and groups would lack purpose and direction. Humans crave hierarchy; this is why we naturally assume different roles. Some naturally take charge and some naturally follow. This is true of all groups.

In any group you usually have a ‘leader’, this person is in charge of making decisions and suggestions and will look to members of the group for advice and support. Leaders are usually more dominant, more loud, more sociable and more outgoing in general. Followers are less dominant and tend to be more introverted.

Group violence and current theory

Research into group violence has indicated that violent attacks on one individual by two or more members of a ‘pack’ are much more brutal, especially in cases when the attack results in the death of the targeted victim. Attacks committed by two or more individuals on one targeted victim are significantly more likely to result in the victim’s death.

One theory which attempts to explain this is the idea of deindividuation and diffusion of responsibility.   According to Zimbardo, deindividuation is the tendency of people within groups to lose their individual identities and become anonymous members of the group, closely linked to this idea is diffusion of responsibility, which outlines the idea that an individual within a group can ‘diffuse’ their own personal level of responsibility onto that of the group, in order to avoid taking personal responsibility for actions which they perceive are the result of the group as a whole. Their actions, like with deindividuation, become that of the group and as such the line between right and wrong can become severely blurred. This process helps to explain why in most instances of group attacks resulting in the death of the victim, the attack itself is often prolonged, sadistic and extremely violent, even if the victim did very little to provoke the attack in the first place.

The murder of Meredith Kercher

The murder of Meredith Kercher is a classic example of group violence and group dynamics within violence. The evidence suggesting that the victim was held, sexually assaulted and taunted with the knife before being killed indicates a group dynamic. Each individual had their own role in the killing and in all likelihood ‘fell into’ the role as a natural extension of their own personality types. Amanda as a person is more dominant than the other two; she is more loud, more adventurous, sociable and competitive, she would in all likelihood have been the ‘leader’ of the group, the ‘puppet master’ if you like. She is at the centre of it all, as such the DNA evidence placing her in the role of knife wielder makes sense, especially with her physical build and make up. It would not make sense in terms of group dynamic and utilisation of group ‘skills’ and ‘attributes’ to have Amanda attempting to restrain Meredith, the men naturally fell into this ‘role’ knowing that they would be able to hold Meredith still. Rudy fell into his ‘role’ as the instigator of the sexual assault and appears to be the weakest ‘member’ of the group, evident by Amanda and Raffaele’s lack of loyalty and their willingness to implicate him for a crime in which they also had an active role. Add to this the theory which suggests that in instances of group violence, a certain amount of deindividuation and diffusion of responsibility leads to an increase in violence, this could explain how three people with no history of violence have either been convicted or are currently on trial for the brutal and sadistic sexual assault and murder of Meredith Kercher.

Of course we will probably never know exactly what happened to Meredith, but current theory about group dynamics in these sorts of violent attack can go a long way to explaining what happened, even when the persons responsible refuse to say a word.

The recent court testimony concerning Raffaele Sollecito’s computer activities (or lack thereof) between the hours of 9.10pm on the night of the murder right through to 5.30am the next morning, virtually annihilates his alibi of being at home in front of the computer whilst the murder was being committed. Further alibi bashing testimony is expected in the upcoming trial dates when the evidence that Raffaele didn’t pick up a call from his father that night will be presented to the court as will the evidence that Raffaele and his former girlfriend Amanda Knox simultaneously switched their phones off approximately one hour before the attack on Meredith which tragically culminated in her death.

The evidence and testimony so far has incontrovertibly shown that neither Amanda nor Raffaele have a consistent or credible alibi for their whereabouts and actions the night Meredith Kercher was murdered.

Playing Musical Chairs with the Alibi

Raffaele spoke to a reporter called Kate Mansey and claimed he had gone to a party with Amanda on the night of the murder. When the police questioned him with regard to certain inconsistencies in his alibi, with Amanda voluntarily accompanying him to the police station, Raffaele admitted he had ‘told a load of rubbish’ because he didn’t think about ‘inconsistencies’ in Amanda’s version of events, he then told police that Amanda had left his apartment to go to Le Chic and meet some friends whilst he had stayed at the apartment and watched a film whilst downloading another one to watch later, when Amanda (who was conveniently sat at the police station of her own free will) was confronted with the fact that Raffaele was no longer providing her with an alibi she broke down and ‘confessed’ to being at the cottage that night and told the police that she had covered her ears while her boss Patrick Lumumba had raped and killed Meredith. Amanda made a statement which implicated Lumumba and though this cannot be used in the trial due to no lawyer being present, a handwritten note to the police concerning this false accusation has been admitted as evidence. Amanda claims to have been put under pressure by the police by saying that she was hit, not given food or water and essentially implies she was ‘coerced’ into implicating Lumumba. This has not only been shown to be false but has also landed her a further slander charge alongside the one for making the false allegation against Lumumba in the first place. Amanda has since reverted back to her original story by claiming she was at the apartment all night with Raffaele, Raffaele has not confirmed this and as such Amanda has no real alibi. Both claim to have smoked so much marijuana they cannot remember exactly what happened that night, what they did or who was there. Raffaele has been clinging on to his computer/marijuana alibi for dear life and now half of it has melted away, all he is left with is the completely unbelievable insinuation that ‘he cannot remember what happened’ indeed Amanda seems to think this is also a credible alibi.

So here we have two young people, both of whom are known to Meredith, one with keys to the cottage where she was murdered. Both switched their phones off shortly before Meredith was killed and neither have a credible alibi for their actions and whereabouts that night. One claims to have spent the evening at home with the other, the other claims to have spent the evening alone at the computer, they both claim to have been so stoned they can’t remember anything at all, yet both equally ‘remember’ they slept until 10.30am the next morning. Computer evidence has shown one has lied about his activities that night and has also shown that at least one of them played a music file at 5.30am so one or both are lying about sleeping through to 10.30am.

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito (aside from Guede who admitted involvement) are in all likelihood the only two people in Perugia that night who, despite repeated interviews, pre-trial hearings and expensive lawyers , still have no credible or consistent alibi for their actions and whereabouts the night Meredith was killed. This, coupled with DNA evidence and witness statements confirms what Claudia Matteini described as ‘strong indications of guilt’. The only card Amanda and Raffaele have left to play is their ‘word’

Exactly why a jury would believe anything these two have to say is beyond me

At this point in time it seems fairly likely that Amanda and Raffaele are lying, not just about what they did that night but also by claiming they can’t remember because they smoked too much marijuana. This is not credible for a number of reasons:

Firstly, marijuana is not widely accepted as a drug that can completely annihilate specific parts of an evening whilst leaving other ‘memories’ intact. In short there is no real evidence to suggest that marijuana can have this effect. Raffaele Sollecito was a heavy pot smoker and it’s likely that Amanda was too, as such the chances of either of them ‘forgetting’ an entire evening, especially considering their previous level of exposure and resistance to the drug, are basically zero. It therefore follows that as the probability of this happening to one of them is low, the chances of it happening to both are even lower. Secondly we also have evidence that a cleanup took place. If Amanda and Raffaele were so stoned they passed out, how can we explain the DNA evidence at the crime scene and the evidence of a clean up? It would not have been possible to have cleaned the apartment (and it was a pretty good job too) if they were that stoned.

Basically it’s a lie and one that has irreparably damaged the credibility of the defendants. Not only that but according to recent research about perpetrators who feign amnesia, it could also be extremely damaging to the defendants overall memory recall which will be vital in order to avoid being ripped to shreds in cross examination if and when they take the stand.

Feigning Amnesia

I’ve recently been thinking about perpetrator amnesia and those who attempt to use it as an alibi particularly in murder cases.

Amnesia takes many forms but is essentially memory loss. It can be permanent or temporary and can be caused by any number of things from brain damage to witnessing or experiencing a severely traumatic event.

An article published in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry called ‘Claims of Crime-Related Amnesia  in Forensic Patients’ highlights the differences in theory amongst those attempting to explain the reasons why perpetrators claim amnesia when accused of serious crime and whether these claims have any basis in reality.

According to the authors there are three basic theories as to why offenders claim amnesia when confronted with accusations of a serious crime:

The first outlines the idea that the nature of most serious crime and in particular very violent homicides is very stressful for the offender and argues that these types of offences provoke “strong and emotional reactions” which arguably undermines the memory of the actual crime.

The second argues that in a lot of cases, offenders who claim amnesia have often been extremely intoxicated at the time of committing the crime, this theory suggests that the ability of the offender to encode specific memories about the event is impaired due to intoxication. The researchers also noted a correlation between alcoholism and offenders who claim amnesia.

The third theory outlines the idea that most cases of crime-related amnesia are a form of malingering and that offenders who claim amnesia are in fact feigning a memory deficit to escape or reduce responsibility for their actions.

I am not a fan of reductionist theories that attempt to simplify complex subjects such as this and as such I am inclined to believe that instances of crime-related amnesia are a combination of the above. One theory I am very interested in pursuing with regard to understanding this case further is the idea that offenders who appear to be feigning amnesia  in order to escape punishment may actually be attempting to come up with a plausible rationale for the crime without actually having to discuss crime details that may distress or upset them, as a result of this offenders will often claim they do not remember what happened, both to avoid punishment and so they do not have to ‘reconstruct’ memories of the crime. Memory recall is a tricky area and it has been proven that time elapse and suggestion have a very strong effect on memory recall, lawyers for example are not allowed to ask leading questions in court as memories can occasionally be ‘reconstructed’ as a result of suggestion.

I am of the belief that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are feigning amnesia in order to avoid punishment for their actions and to avoid discussing specific crime details that may be causing them stress or discomfort.

Further research has been conducted into the effects of feigning amnesia on ongoing memory recall. This research suggests that offenders who feign amnesia are more likely to have decreased memory recall over time, further suggesting that offenders who claim to ‘forget’ actually do partially forget. The problem with this is that their original statements and ‘memories’ have already been recorded for use during trial, what can sometimes happen is an offender has spent such a long time pretending not to remember that they experience dissociative amnesia, especially if the crime was traumatic or very violent. In these instances, specific details become hazy and inconsistencies appear which then often results in the defendant being ripped to shreds when they eventually take the stand.

Amanda and Raffaele have already demonstrated an amazing ability to twist details in to newer and ‘improved’ versions of what happened that night, this coupled with their disassociation from the crime and each other has certainly done its fair share of damage already. The inconsistencies in Amanda and Raffaele’s stories have in part come about simply because they have attempted to ‘block out’ and ‘shut away’ any memories of that evening.

Amanda and Raffaele are having (and will continue to have) serious problems with their memory recall for the following reasons:

  • A great deal of time has passed between the murder and the trial
  • They have repeatedly lied about their actions and whereabouts on the night and can no longer remember what they said, who they said it to and why they said it.
  • They have both claimed amnesia which is shown to have an effect on subsequent memory recall of the crime itself.
  • They have both in all likelihood been involved in an extremely violent murder and sexual assault, according to current theory this could have been traumatic enough to severely impair memory recall of the event and as such they are completely resisting all attempts by the prosecution to talk about what actually happened that night (it will take a great many years of therapy and counselling to get this out of them)
  • They were both intoxicated on the night in question which may have had a moderate effect on memory encoding and subsequent memory recall.

As a result of this Amanda and Raffaele will have serious problems if and when they take the stand, I wager that this will the point when someone will crack or slip up, especially if and when Mignini chooses to cross examine them. They won’t stand a chance.

Some ideas and conclusions

Crime related amnesia is a fairly common occurrence in the criminal justice system and there have been a great number of theories attempting to understand why it is so often used as an ‘excuse’ by offenders accused of serious crime.

Psychologists believe it may be in part an attempt to disassociate from the crime both in the attempt to avoid punishment and as an attempt to avoid reconstructing memories of a particularly violent crime which may distress the offender.

I believe that the fact Amanda and Raffaele are using amnesia as a defence strongly indicates they were present in the cottage that night and played an active role in a disturbing and highly sadistic crime which they are now disassociating themselves from. Amanda and Raffaele have experienced problems with memory recall and have been unable to provide a credible or reliable alibi which seems to indicate that they do not in fact have one.

They were at the cottage that night and they in all likelihood participated in the murder of Meredith Kercher.

This is the fourth part in a series of posts concerned with examining possible motives for the murder of Meredith Kercher. These posts are a collection of ideas and theories based in part from my own reflections on this case and from ideas and scenarios that have been put forward by others. In the previous post I outlined the idea of theft as a possible motive for what happened that night. Though there is a great deal of evidence to suggest a theft did take place, it seems unlikely that this would be the sole cause of the violent attack which tragically culminated in Meredith’s death.

In the first two posts I discussed the idea that the murder fits into the category of a sex related homicide, I also discussed current theory about classification of violence and the part it may play in helping us to understand this unique and complex crime. I do not currently believe that theft is a viable motive for what appears to be a complex and sadistic sex related homicide. There is however, another theory that could help explain how this tragedy came about and the violence with which it was executed: Anger.

Anger and some of its causes

Anger is an emotional state that encompasses anything from moderate irritation to full blown rage. The physical effects of anger include: increased heart rate, blood pressure and adrenaline. Anger usually comes about for some of the following (real or perceived) reasons: Feelings of being wronged or humiliated, feelings of resentment, mistreatment, frustration, losing face or being made to feel helpless, lack of control, having ones personal space invaded, injustice, feeling trapped or isolated and jealousy.

Everyone is different and therefore feels and responds to anger in different ways, some people are easy to anger or lose their temper, this is usually associated with a short sharp burst of aggression as a result of frustration at the real or perceived source of irritation which quickly subsides upon venting. Other people let these feelings of frustration and resentment build up over a long period of time, this can sometimes be because they feel it is inappropriate to or don’t know how to express the way they feel, given enough time this can result in an explosion of rage, akin to a balloon slowly filling up with air which eventually pops. It can take a long time for these balloons to ‘pop’, sometimes even years. Some of the latter may avoid getting angry at the person/thing that is the route of the real or perceived problem, usually because the source of anger/frustration is a loved one, partner or family member and they do not want to upset them or cause them pain by expressing the way they feel directly, this can lead to what’s known as displaced anger

Displaced anger
A psychologist once described displaced anger as ‘anger without a home’. Displaced anger occurs when an individual cannot confront the real source of their anger and as such the anger never really goes away but instead comes out in other ways or is projected onto something or more often than not someone else, anything which is safer or more convenient than confronting the source or cause of the anger. Displaced anger often leads to hostility or affront which in turn can lead to individuals being ostracised or ignored, leading to further resentment and anger.

Evidence to suggest anger as a possible motive

There is some evidence available about the crime scene and the nature of the attack which suggests that anger may have played a role in what happened that night:

Offence Classification and Crime Scene
As I outlined in a previous post, the murder of Meredith Kercher fits into the category of a sex related homicide and specifically, one with a rape and/or sodomy motivation, these types of homicide are usually extremely sadistic with victims often suffering a violent sexual assault and equally violent death, usually from manual strangulation, asphyxiation and/or multiple stab wounds to the throat, chest and abdomen. Meredith had 47 separate injuries on her body when she died; as well as the three knife wounds to her neck, one of them deep and fatal, Meredith also had defensive knife wounds on her hands and face as well as injuries consistent with being forcibly held or restrained and manually strangled as well as a broken Hyoid bone in her neck. The evidence indicates she was taunted with the blade of a knife whilst being held and sexually assaulted. God knows how long this went on for, how frightened she must have been and how bravely she fought for her life. Whoever killed Meredith took pleasure in and deliberately ensured her suffering. Similarly, the knife wound itself is reported to be very deep and very nasty, it could be suggested that the final blow represented a release of some kind this, coupled with the idea that the victim was tortured and humiliated before death, suggests the emotion driving the person wielding the knife could well have been anger manifested through any number of emotions.

DNA evidence has implicated Amanda Knox

As the DNA evidence so far indicates that Amanda may have wielded the knife and struck the final blow I will be concentrating on Amanda in my consideration of the potential sources of her anger and how they may relate to her interaction with the victim and what happened that night, within the framework of this theory.

I think it’s important to consider Amanda almost as if she were two separate people as from descriptions of her character by the people who know her best, it sounds as if the Amanda we are seeing is a very different Amanda to the idealistic young lady that left the US for an adventure in Perugia.

Why was Amanda angry?

In Perugia
There has been a great deal of speculation about the relationship between Amanda and Meredith and whether it could have directly contributed to the events of that tragic evening in November 2007. There are quite a few people who believe Amanda had a deep-rooted hatred of Meredith and may have killed her for that reason. I for one believe Amanda may have disliked Meredith after a while, maybe even despised her towards the time Meredith was killed, but as with most aspects of this case, attempting to understand why usually creates more questions than it answers.

Discussion about the relationship between the two young women has been varied, some maintain it was bordering on mutual hatred, others claim the two were fairly firm friends. Having reviewed what has been written so far I’m currently leaning in the direction that the relationship was at best, strained. Testimony from Meredith’s friends has indicated that she sometimes complained about small things like Amanda not doing her share of the cleaning, not flushing the toilet, bringing home strange men and deliberately leaving her condoms and vibrator on full display inside a clear plastic cosmetics bag in the bathroom she and Meredith shared. It has also been stated that the two were close initially but then drifted apart as they found their feet amongst different social circles in Perugia. Then we have the testimony that indicates a possible ‘rivalry’ over Giacomo Silenzi with Amanda supposedly giving Meredith ‘permission’ to date him. These things, though small could have over time led to a certain amount of animosity between the two, with Meredith too prudent to approach the issue directly and Amanda possibly oblivious to the way her housemate was feeling.

It would be a shame to have to go into the whole ‘good girls do bad girls don’t’ thing, which isn’t the issue here, however I do believe that Meredith and Amanda were very, very different people with Meredith seemingly the more mature and sensible of the two, I also believe that Meredith tried to talk to Amanda in a firm but friendly way, in an extract from her diary Amanda says “she gave me advice and protected me when I found myself in difficult situations”. Though Amanda’s has a track record of not telling the truth or fabricating it to suit her individual needs, I believe there are elements of truth in her diary and this could be a recollection of sorts possibly of a time that she and Meredith talked openly about things that were bothering her. I believe that despite trying to get along with her housemate, over time Meredith said things and acted in a way that aroused Amanda’s hostility towards her, though Meredith would have seen these things as perfectly reasonable and not in the least offensive, Amanda may have taken them to heart especially if it appeared Meredith was getting on better with Laura and Filomena in terms of tidiness around the house. Amanda may have perceived them to have been ‘ganging up on her’ by telling her what to do with regard to the cleaning rota and other household affairs, in her testimony Filomena said: “At first they got on very well…then things began to take a different road and there was a bit of tension over the cleaning rotas…I know Amanda missed her turn a couple of times, she didn’t always respect them.” Amanda was in Italy for the year of fun and freedom she had been waiting for, she probably resented a cleaning rota and may even have perceived it as boring, restrictive and a barrier to the relaxed, chilled-out and exciting adventure she had envisaged living in the house would be.

An interesting point to consider when looking at the relationship between Amanda and Meredith is the idea that they were both in Perugia for very different reasons. In his excellent post on TJMK, Stuarthome2000 outlines the differences between Meredith’s accredited ERASMUS exchange program and the kind of year Amanda had planned which was arguably just an unsupervised year of relaxed language classes and partying. Amanda was not on an accredited program and the level of supervision she would have received was minimal in comparison to Meredith who would have had people checking up on her attendance, behaviour and progress throughout her time in Perugia. According to the article, the University of Washington doesn’t have a study abroad program in Perugia so precisely why Amanda decided to take time out from her studies to pursue an expensive and arguably less than beneficial trip half way across the ocean is anybody’s guess. As Meredith was on an accredited program she would have had access to people that could assist her with any problems she was having especially at home, had Amanda been on this kind of program as well, tensions around the house especially with regard to bringing home men and possibly doing drugs would have been diffused quickly and efficiently. As Amanda was essentially in Perugia on her own with no supervision or anyone to report back to she was essentially free to do whatever she liked, this may have made things difficult as nobody was present that could speak to or reprimand her, this must have been very frustrating for Meredith who it seems was in Perugia to get on with her studies and she certainly didn’t need the hassle of a problematic housemate. With Meredith possibly being being shy herself, she probably didn’t feel comfortable discussing the issues with Amanda directly. On a similar note it could be argued that Amanda was expecting to arrive in Perugia and meet other people that wanted to party in the same way she did, the vast majority of the students there would probably have been on accredited programs and wanted to take their studies seriously and it may have been frustrating to meet people like Meredith whose main reason for being in Perugia was to study and not to party.

I find Amanda’s blog dated 2nd September 2007 very interesting, especially when she discusses seeing the cottage for the first time and her excitement at being offered one of the rooms. She says of Filomena: “not to mention, she owns two guitars and wants to play with me. not to mention the view is amazing. not to mention i have a terrace that looks over the perugian city/countryside. not to mention she wants me to teach erh yoga. not to mention they both smoke like chimneys.” It seems that Amanda had an idea about what her time in Perugia was going to be like, full of wild parties, smoking, drinking and lots of fun, from her blog it seems Meredith wasn’t present or was just about to move in and Amanda seems very excited at the chance to spend time with the girls she refers to as “awesome. really sweet, really down to earth, funny as hell”. I often wonder how Amanda felt when she first met Meredith and how the dynamic in the house changed as a result.

In the blog dated 15th October Amanda mentions Le Chic and that she has three days off a week to do what she likes. Amanda doesn’t mention Meredith or Filomena; in fact she makes very few references to anyone specific, preferring to say she has “plenty of friends here”. In my internet trawl over the last few days I have found it hard to find any specific reference to any of Amanda’s friends in Perugia other than the boys downstairs and her boyfriend Raffaele. As Laura and Filomena worked and presumably had their own social circles and there was tension between Amanda and Meredith, with Meredith preferring to spend her time with her own friends, it does appear that Amanda had very few (if any) close friends in Perugia and even fewer who were women. I think Amanda was quite lonely in Perugia and expected to make a lot more friends than she actually did. I read somewhere that a couple of female students found Amanda to be standoffish upon first meeting her and initiating conversation, rather than making conversation with them Amanda walked up to the nearest group of boys and started flirting, one of the girls that was interviewed said she didn’t really like Amanda and didn’t get a very good first impression.

Amanda does make reference to Laura in her blog and the handyman she started dating. According to testimony from one of Meredith’s friends Amy Frost, Meredith thought Amanda idolised her housemate Laura and had her ear pierced five times to emulate her. Though this may have been the case it may also be possible that Amanda, being free to do what she liked in Perugia decided to get her ears pierced when nobody could tell her not to. Getting multiple piercings’ in a short space of time is often a sign of rebellion in younger people, especially if they have been brought up in an environment where these sorts of things were not allowed. It seems clear to me that Amanda was rebelling in Perugia, smoking a lot, drinking a lot, getting her ears pierced five times in a couple of weeks and having sex with random men. It seems like Amanda’s primary motivation for going to Italy was to escape the life she had in the US, the people that kept an eye on her and the things this represented to her. I also think Amanda had very few people with whom to talk about things that were bothering her or how she felt.

From what has been revealed about Amanda’s character in Perugia, the sorts of things she said and the way people responded to her it does seem that she was slightly unapproachable, even hostile. Many psychologists believe that displaced anger is the cause of hostility as the individual cannot express how they feel in a way that is focused and appropriate to the situation, the anger may be displaced or projected onto someone else, it may lead to the person being defensive and giving off a bad first impression. Feelings of isolation and rejection as a result of the behaviour of the individual can lead to further anger, further repression of anger and later the appearance of hostility.

In order to understand this I feel it is most important to consider the potential source of Amanda’s anger and to do that we must go back to before her time in Perugia and try to understand why, what or who she was angry with.

Before Perugia

Thanks to the interesting new article from Barbie Nadeau, my ideas about Amanda’s childhood are now slightly clearer and things are starting to make more sense. I do and always have believed that Amanda is a very angry young woman who simply has no idea how to deal/cope with or understand the way she feels about important events in her life, what she wants to do or where she wants to be.

Childhood Events

I really want to avoid the whole ‘blame the parents’ mantra, simply because it is a massive cliché, unfair and often completely off target, yet we cannot ignore certain important events in Amanda’s childhood that came about directly through choices made by Amanda’s parents.

Amanda’s parents Curt and Edda divorced when she was just two years old, according to the article written by Nadeau: “On more than one occasion Edda had to go to court to collect child support from Curt”, then when Amanda was around ten years old her mother Edda married Chris Mellas who was ten years younger.

The effects of divorce on children vary and as Amanda was very young when her parents divorced it seems unlikely that she would have been massively affected by it when it actually happened, what may be more difficult to establish is how Amanda felt about this growing up, if Curt and Edda argued about child support payments it may be the case that Curt had limited access to both Amanda and her younger sister Deanna when they were growing up, it does sound like her father was present in Amanda’s life as he said in an interview he moved only five blocks away. Curt probably encouraged her competitiveness, both academically and on the soccer field; it was here that she earned her nickname ‘Foxy Knoxy’, her sister Deanna says, “She got that nickname when she was 11 because she was intense. She was a defender; she’d crouch and come out of nowhere to stop people”. Suggestions of Amanda’s intense competitiveness interest me, I really don’t think she liked or was used to ‘losing’ at anything.

Relationship with her father
It seems Amanda takes after her father, whereas her mother Edda is frequently crying and very emotional in interviews her father, though he appears heartbroken and devastated is almost emotionless in his calmness and gives away very little about how he is feeling inside. According to her family, Amanda was a tomboy and didn’t like to wear make-up (in fact I have seen very few photos of Amanda with make-up on), Amanda preferred rock-climbing and other sports. Amanda has also suggested that she was picked on at school with other girls thinking she was a lesbian, in all likelihood I doubt her peers even really thought she was gay, but they were simply trying to understand how a pretty girl did not enjoy make-up, boys, dressing up and other more traditionally female things, despite this, these sorts of comments and accusations were probably quite hurtful especially during puberty and adolescence. It seems she was a classic tomboy and tomboys nearly always identify best with their fathers. It does seem that Amanda identified better with men on the whole, though she has some female friends it does seem she spent a lot of time socialising with men both in Seattle and in Perugia, possibly finding them less threatening. When her father was recently in court Amanda appeared more relaxed and happy, the last two appearances (with her step-father Chris Mellas present in place of Curt) have been noticeably different, with Amanda now appearing more nervous and distressed. Though she said on her MySpace profile page that her hero was her mother it seems Amanda was just as close to her father and misses his comforting presence in the courtroom greatly.

Relationship with her mother, sister and stepfather
Amanda refers to her mother as her hero (on her mirrored MySpace page) and it does seem that the two are close, her mother has been very vocal in support of her daughter’s innocence. I find the following line from Amanda’s short story ‘The Model’ very interesting and believe it sheds light on the dynamic of the house Amanda grew up in after her mother remarried and possibly even her thoughts on the news that Chris would be her new father:

“We’re going to Dad’s new place, said unflinchingly, though a hard part in my chest recoiled in on itself, tying all the tissue and tendons of my chest into a knot.
“Who the hell do you think you are, Mom?” Aislin stood up her skin blotched red at her temples. She clenched her fists and tears began in her eyes. “You think everything’s about you, don’t you? You are such an idiot!”
“idiot or not, I’m your mother, in case you forgot, and I’m telling you to get some clothes and get your butt back down here so we can leave….
…I can’t believe we’re doing this,” she said as she reached the bottom step. She bowed her head and lowered her voice. Murmured, “You’re such a bitch.”

Such anger in these words and surprisingly realistic despite the fact that the rest of the story is disjointed and hard to read. I believe Amanda was very angry when her mother married Chris; after all she had probably gotten used to it just being her Edda and Deanna and probably didn’t like the idea that someone would be ‘replacing’ her father. I also noticed possible competitiveness regarding male attention between Amanda and her sister Deanna. In an interview with the family conducted by The Times, Deanna dismisses the idea that Amanda was a man-eater by saying: “That’s ridiculous. Amanda didn’t have her first boyfriend until university, when she was 19. She’s kind of a late bloomer. We talked about guys because I had a serious boyfriend way before she had one. I’d feed her advice.” Telling indeed. It sounds like Amanda grew up with quite a lot of hassle hanging over her head; her father was not around all the time, she had a pretty hefty reputation to uphold at a strict Jesuit school, she got used to living with her mother and then her step father Chris came along. In her controversial rape-story Baby Brother Amanda wrote the following line: “I don’t want to go home. My mom’s all full up with my brother and they don’t talk to me anymore. They just go to bed. Dad and her used to fight to read me stories…” Isolation, jealousy and rejection, it’s all there, in her own words. Chris is, to put it mildly, a bit of a douche, even if we put aside the outrageous way he has conducted himself online, he still doesn’t sound like the ideal father figure for someone like Amanda, neither does it seem the two get on well at all. He refers to Amanda and Deanna as ‘shitheads’ on his MySpace profile and, according to Nadeau, boasts of getting drunk with one of his stepdaughters. In a translated section of Knox prison diary she says “Obviously, Chris is getting on my nerves because he’s an asshole and so I had to go away.” She also says “I don’t plan on staying to hear that I’m an obtuse retard.”

In the Times interview the family explain the one time Amanda was violent, she broke the nose of a boy who had been picking on her sister Deanna, yet in the same breath Deanna states: “My sister can’t kill a spider. When I’d find a spider in my room I’d tell her ‘Kill it,’ but she would get a glass and take it outside”. Of course her family are the best people to attest to what sort of person Amanda is, yet I find it hard to understand how breaking a boy’s nose, in anger or retaliation is even comparable to killing a spider. I believe that as the DNA evidence indicates Amanda’s presence in the cottage that night and even her holding the knife that killed Meredith, that she was capable of violence. The story about the broken nose is significant; firstly it shows that she is capable of ‘correcting’ a perceived injustice with violence, secondly it indicates that a perceived injustice or sense of frustration may trigger some kind of emotional/anger response in Amanda, hence we could theorise that Meredith angered Amanda or was the subject of her displaced anger. Amanda herself says: “I don’t vent my frustrations on the people I love the most”.

I believe Amanda had been bottling up how she felt about her family for a number of years and probably wanted to escape to Italy in order to be free of the restrictions she faced living near home. It could be argued that this was the worst place for her, as unresolved anger in youth and a complete lack of supervision in a foreign country are unlikely to be a good match.

Where did Meredith fit in?

It’s likely that Amanda was jealous of Meredith, her looks and abilities and may have been overshadowed by her at times. If Amanda was a late bloomer, the novelty of being found attractive by men probably hadn’t worn off when she arrived in Perugia which could explain her sexual escapades. I believe that Meredith represented a lot of things that Amanda came to resent, maybe even loathe. It also seems that Meredith was a very girly girl, the sort that Amanda had found it hard to get on with at school. Meredith was very popular and made friends very easily and she had begun a relationship with Giacomo, one of the boys downstairs who Amanda also confessed to liking. Meredith was also sensible, smart and good with money, was very tidy around the house and possibly nagged Amanda to do more. It does sound as if Meredith had a hard time talking to Amanda about issues that were bothering her and her feelings about these issues may have come out in other ways, she may have looked at Amanda disapprovingly, ignored her or made a sly comment that irked her. Amanda may have thought her prissy, boring or ‘up-herself’ in some way and it does sound like their relationship deteriorated quite quickly.

I believe that Amanda brought quite a bit of displaced anger with her to Perugia in the hope that she could forget or bury the past by having a good time. I believe this anger eventually seeped out and was projected onto Meredith, seemingly for no logical reason whatsoever. I also believe that Amanda had few friends in Perugia and probably only confided in her boyfriend Raffaele who it seems was slightly troubled himself, would he have been the best person to give her advice and comfort, this drug abusing loner who collected knives and whose mother had committed suicide? It seems as if the person Amanda turned to for comfort was the only person who could have made the situation unequivocally worse, especially if Raffaele was infatuated with Knox , he may well have been capable to saying or doing anything to garner her approval or to ‘diffuse’ the situation.

Displaced anger could have lead to the idea of humiliating Meredith, playing a trick on her or even a drug fuelled argument that got out of hand. I still believe it is important to consider the evidence that this was premeditated but this kind of displaced anger could lead to any number of scenarios resulting in this level of violence.

With the recent appeal against the conviction and resulting 30 year sentence handed down to Rudy Guede by judge Micheli for his part in the sexual assault and murder of Meredith Kercher, it seems fitting to discuss another possible motive for the murder, theft.

In his appeal, lawyers for Guede claim their client was on the toilet when the fatal knife wound was administered by, he professes the defendant Amanda Knox in an apparent row over stolen rent money. Guede claims he attempted to help Meredith by using a towel to apply pressure to her wounds, but instead of calling an ambulance, he became frightened and ran away. Aside from confirming the obvious cowardice or lack of consideration for seeking immediate medical attention for the victim he claims he so chivalrously tried to ‘help’, Guede sheds no further light on what happened that night but instead attempts to point the finger of blame at the defendant Amanda Knox, perhaps in the wake of a recent drop in public opinion and support in favour of her innocence.

This is the third part in a series of posts concerned with examining possible motives for the murder of Meredith Kercher. These posts are a collection of ideas and theories based in part from my own reflections on this case and from ideas and scenarios that have been put forward by others. In the previous post I outlined some current theories on classification of violence and, though this post was quite theoretical in nature I hope I was successful in demonstrating that the confusion in typology of violence may suggest that there was in all likelihood a number of individual motives for what happened that night.

Classification of violence is an important factor to consider when attempting to understand the individual dynamic of this hugely complex and many layered crime, the attack on Meredith was extremely violent and sadistic and as such can be classified as a sex related homicide which, according to current classification, fits into a rape/sodomy motivation category and though the evidence so far supports the idea, it is also important to consider the evidence that suggests a further motive, theft.

Evidence to support the idea that a theft took place

There is no denying that a theft took place as some of Meredith’s personal possessions were, and to this day remain missing. The evidence for theft:

Cash machine records show that Meredith had withdrawn approx €300 to pay for her rent which was due at the start of the month but the landlord never received the money; neither did Filomena who sub-letted rooms to both Amanda and Meredith. Two debit/credit cards were missing from Meredith’s purse, one from Abbey National and the other from Nationwide, these have not been located. Two cell/mobile phones were taken from Meredith and tossed in the nearby garden of Elisabetta Lana; it was the discovery of one phone and shortly after, the other that led to the dispatch of the postal police who later discovered Meredith’s body.

With the above points in mind we can conclude that a theft of some kind did take place. However, we cannot conclude that this was the motive for the murder, nor can we necessarily say that the initial motivation of the perpetrator was burglary.

The Burglary

Evidence put forward so far indicates that the crime scene was staged to make it appear to police as if a burglary had been the motive for the presence of the perpetrator/s in the house that night. The burglary theory is not credible for a number of reasons:

Firstly, Filomena’s window, the supposed route of entry was significantly higher off the ground than other more easily accessible points of entry into the house. Entry from other points would have been significantly easier and less visible to potential witnesses; in fact some have even gone as far as suggesting that entry through this window would be impossible. Similarly, fragments of glass found on top of piles of scattered clothes indicates that the window was broken from the inside with a large rock that was found on the floor of Filomena’s bedroom.  Secondly, valuable items such as laptops, Meredith’s iPod as well as valuable jewellery, designer handbags and sunglasses belonging to Filomena were not taken from the house. As I discussed in a previous post the primary motivation of a burglary is to grab as much valuable stuff as quickly and easily as possible and without being caught.

Concerning the specific items taken from Meredith – Cash and cards
One thing I find pertiularly odd is the choice of items taken from Meredith, especially the cash and cards. People do not normally keep that kind of money just lying around the house, as such I doubt many burglars expect to find or even go looking for cash. If I was a burglar who found €300 lying about in a drawer as I was tossing a place I‘d probably think ‘bonus’ and carry on looting. Same with the debit cards, why would a burglar take these incredibly personal items which, not only are useless without the pin numbers but are easily traceable and totally unique to the victim? If found, there would be no denying that they had come from the cottage and seeing as they have no monetary value and these days you can’t even use them online without special passwords for security, it seems totally illogical that any ‘genuine’ burglar would take them, especially when you consider that the house contained a wealth of small, valuable and less traceable items such as jewellery an iPod and designer sunglasses, these items would be easy to carry and probably easy to sell. The fact that cash and cards were taken from Meredith implies that the person/s responsible wanted a) to lead the investigators in the belief that robbery was the motive and/or b) needed immediate access to cash, I firmly believe that due to the timing i.e. beginning of the month (rent time), whoever took the cash, already knew it was in the house and where to find it. This in itself discounts a lone wolf like Guede, who would not have had access to this information or known where to look for the cash. Seeing as Guede’s Facebook photos show him posing with a famous fashion designer, I can imagine he’d know the value of the designer handbags and sunglasses and, were he actually a lone burglar he may have taken those as well as the iPod which he’s already ‘confessed’ to being a fan of. It is also fairly reasonable to assume that Meredith and Amanda may have spoken about the rent money as they both would have owed the same amount to Filomena, is it too much of a stretch to imagine that Meredith may have mentioned she had withdrawn the money and was going to pay Filomena when she returned after the holiday weekend?

Concerning the specific items taken from Meredith – Cell/mobile phones
In a similar way to the cash/cards, a burglar would probably not be looking for cell/mobile phones when stealing from a property. If we consider the cost/benefit model, the primary motivation of burglary is to steal valuables to sell (benefit) whilst weighing up the likelihood of being caught (cost), as such a burglar would not choose to steal from a house that did not appear empty, hence the products you can buy to simulate lights coming on and off etc that give the impression someone is home. Cell/mobile phones are meant to be carried around in bags/pockets and as such, a burglar breaking into an empty property would not be expecting to find items that the owner of the property would be carrying around with them elsewhere. I’m not suggesting that a burglar would not steal these items if they were discovered, just that the likelihood of a potential burglar expecting to find them is low, as such the type of items stolen from Meredith is suspicious as they are all personal items that she would have been carrying around whilst the burglar was rummaging around looking for items to sell. With regard to the phones, a far more sinister likelihood, supported by the confession from Rudy Guede that he did not attempt to seek medical help for Meredith upon realising the severity of her injuries (and therefore we can assume he had a reason for not wanting her to recover and identify him), is that the perpetrator/s prevented Meredith from seeking medical attention by removing from her the only method with which to do so, her cell/mobile phones. Upon realising they would be easily traceable (just look at the apparent phone paranoia with the joint switch off at 8.40pm) the perpetrator/s decided the best place for the phones was in the garden of a nearby neighbour where they could not be traced to the perpetrator/s individual location. If we consider a lone burglar, with no prior relationship to the victim, the discarding of the phones makes absolutely no sense. If you were a burglar, why would you throw away half of the stuff you had just ‘worked so hard’ to steal?, that would be like flushing half of your wages for the night down the toilet. This could further imply that the person who took the phones knew Meredith personally and did not want it to be traced back to them especially if they knew the police would soon be poking around for information about who had killed her, it may also be possible that whoever took the phones intended to keep them, maybe someone without a phone (Guede) but ‘bailed out’, realising that they would be extremely incriminating if found.

All in all, the fact that only Meredith’s possessions were taken (and personal ones at that) is highly suspicious, add that to the evidence suggesting the burglary was staged and we have ourselves one very shady motive indeed.

Aggravated burglary and burglary related homicide

Incidents of aggravated burglary i.e. where the offender carries a weapon are rare, even rarer are the occasions where the burglar will actually employ the weapon. As burglary by its very nature is motivated by the desire to steal valuables whilst the owner is absent, the motivation to seriously harm the owner of the property is usually non-existent. Incidences of violent burglars are reported but usually they only strike out in self defence especially if violently confronted in retaliation for the break-in. Even rarer are incidents of burglary related homicide with the owner as the victim, more often than not if a death occurs as a result of a burglary its usually the burglar and not the owner that is killed. Burglary is generally considered to be a non violent crime and though very distressing to those whose personal possessions have been taken it very rarely culminates in such extreme violence and in these cases, the burglar is nearly always provoked.

Though incidents where burglars lash out when confronted do happen, it’s usually only when they feel threatened. Meredith’s friends have suggested she was cautious, like plenty of young women who study in a foreign country and would not have opened the door to strangers at night, therefore the likelihood of her actually meeting and confronting a burglar with a weapon, the propensity for violence and provoking a violent attack, rather than just making a run for the door or hiding under the bed are very slim. In short, Meredith would have been unlikely to have confronted a burglar and even if it had been Guede rummaging around the house alone she would have screamed or probably made a run for it.

Something in the house put her ‘at ease’ before the attack, somebody familiar was there that night.

The injuries Meredith sustained were consistent with a very violent sexual assault, being forcibly restrained, taunted with a knife and eventually stabbed in the neck. Despite the fact that the murder of Meredith Kercher appears to be a sex related homicide, even if we consider that robbery could have been a the motive, the nature of the attack and the level of violence is not consistent with research or theory about classification of violence in these sorts of offences, neither were the injuries caused by one person.

Implications for our understanding of the motive

The evidence put forward so far seems to suggest that burglary was not a primary motive for the murder of Meredith Kercher, but theft could still be considered. Amanda and Raffaele have been charged with the theft (amongst a list of other things) of Meredith’s personal possessions but asserting that the acquisition of these items was motive enough to kill? I’m not so sure.

DNA evidence has convicted Rudy Guede and implicated Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, we could therefore suggest that the evidence supporting the presence of all three negates the need for the ‘break-in’ through the window, why then did they stage the crime scene to insinuate a robbery had taken place? Amanda had a key and according to judge Micheli, most likely let Rudy in through the front door. What I struggle to understand is why Amanda would even need to involve Guede if she and Raffaele were just planning on stealing Meredith’s money. In the email Amanda sent to her friends and family 2 days after the murder she mentions in great detail what Meredith was doing the ‘last time she saw her alive’, despite the idea that it appears the couple were watching Meredith that afternoon it also seems to suggest that for a number of hours Amanda and Raffaele were alone in the house as Meredith had gone to her friend’s house, was it possible that they stole the money from Meredith then and spent the afternoon getting baked at Meredith’s expense? As Rudy’s recent appeal (if we believe what he has to say) suggests that Amanda and Meredith argued about stolen money and says nothing about him actually seeing her take the money,  it could be suggested that the money may have been taken in the afternoon after Meredith had left for her friend’s house.

It is feasible that Amanda, Rudy and Raffaele were at the cottage to buy/sell/do drugs that afternoon and upon returning home, Meredith became angry when she found her rent money missing and guessed what it may have been spent on. It does seem unlikely that this level of violence would be used in these circumstances though it is consistent with diffusion of responsibility and as I discussed in my previous post, fits with a classification of hostile violence.

Why would they need the money?

Amanda and Raffaele, alongside murder and other charges related to the incident, have also been charged with stealing Meredith’s money/cards/phones. Despite this, some people have rejected the idea that they are capable or would want to steal as they have been painted as fairly wealthy kids, despite the fact that even rich people steal (Winona Ryder is a good example); the following ideas may shed some light:

The FOA have suggested that Amanda would have no motive to steal as she had over $4000 in the bank at the time of the murder. Though this seems like a large amount of money it may well have been all she had in the world. The FOA like to tell everyone that Amanda had to work several jobs to save up and pay for her trip to Perugia, which, though shows dedication and hard work, also indicates that Amanda’s parents didn’t really have the sort of money that would allow her a jet-set lifestyle half way across the world and in any case they may have helped out a bit but wanted her to learn her first big lesson about money by saving up for it herself. It has been reported that Amanda was middle-class and not particularly rich. In any case, just because her parents have practically bankrupted themselves fighting these accusations and orchestrating a PR campaign doesn’t mean they had/have money to burn, every parent wants their child to go out into the world and do things their own way and it sounds like this was the lesson Amanda was learning (why else would she have needed to work several jobs). $4000, though it sounds like a lot of money is actually very little when living abroad. $4000 currently equates to just over €3000, if we take the exchange rate at the time as being slightly better, Amanda paying roughly €300 rent a month, would probably have just covered the years rent with her savings. Why do you think she had to get a job at Le Chic paying roughly €50 a week plus tips? When we factor in food, flights home for Christmas, alcohol and the (seemingly) copious amounts of weed she smoked it seems reasonable that Amanda could have been running short of money. Amanda had just lost her bar job at Le Chic and been ‘relegated’ to handing out flyers instead, with this potential source of income drying up I can imagine Amanda was concerned about her finances, especially if she owed/needed money for drugs. It is also interesting that Amanda was carrying €215 in cash when she was arrested, it would be interesting to know if bank statements showed Amanda had withdrawn this money on the day of the murder or the subsequent day and if she had withdrawn €300 to pay her rent, or stolen this amount from Meredith, where the extra €85 had been spent.

Raffaele reportedly had just €40 in his bank account when Meredith was killed and seeing as how his father was a rich doctor who provided him with a nice apartment, car and probably kept him financially sound while he studied it seems odd that he would be this broke.

Some ideas and conclusions

Though the evidence suggests that theft may have played a role in what happened that night, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that theft was the primary motive for the attack on Meredith, it is however clear that the burglary was staged. It is possible that the violent attack came about as a result of a confrontation over the missing money, which is consistent with a possible classification of hostile violence.

I am however, still attempting to understand, if this was just about money, where Rudy Guede fits in as he was not charged with theft. Also where does the evidence that the murder may have been premeditated fit in with this theory? Why were the phones switched off at the same time? Why did they take the knife? What the hell was planned?

The fact that extremely personal and traceable items belonging to Meredith were taken is highly suspicious, as is the evidence suggesting that the defendants Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were short of cash at this time, Rudy’s ‘confession’ that Amanda killed Meredith, like most of his stories is probably fantasy but with some basis in truth.

Even with this mind, it still seems implausible that something this depraved and violent could result from the theft of just €300.

This is the second part of a series of posts concerned with examining possible motives for the murder of Meredith Kercher. These posts are a collection of ideas and theories based in part from my own reflections on this case and from ideas and scenarios that have been put forward by others.

In the previous post I outlined some current theories on classification of sexual homicide. I believe the murder of Meredith Kercher can be classified as a sexual homicide due to the level of violence, evidence of sexual assault and the way the body was found. One of the motives for committing a violent sexual assault and murder is the intention of humiliating or dominating the victim though the motives for this aren’t always clear.

I have recently begun to examine the possibility that the attack was premeditated as the evidence put forward to far seems to suggest this as a possibility. This is a very complex and intriguing case for many reasons and though a lot of evidence has been released into the public domain it could be argued that, due to the lack of cooperation from the defendants Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito and the only convicted member of the group so far, Rudy Guede, we are no closer to understanding the motive for the violent and depraved attack on Meredith which culminated in her tragic death.

Rationale for examining the motive:

It could be argued that examining possible motives at this stage and without the complicity of the defendants is speculating ahead of the evidence, however, as the evidence indicates that both Amanda Knox and Raffaele were present that night it seems logical to attempt to understand the possible motive for the murder of Meredith Kercher and where they fit in.

I have in certain places been heavily criticised for openly expressing my own personal perceptions about the defendant’s guilt or innocence as there are many people following this case that still believe Rudy Guede was a lone wolf killer, the evidence however, speaks for itself and I for one am not afraid to state that I believe Judge Micheli had more than enough evidence put in front of him to send both defendants to trial for their part in the sexual assault and murder of Meredith Kercher. Because of this it seems necessary to understand the possible motive in order to put this massive body of evidence into some sort of context for the jury, if this results in a conviction or an acquittal, so be it.

As for my own personal views of guilt or innocence? What does it matter? I’m not on the jury

The sexual assault and murder of Meredith Kercher was extremely violent as such it may be possible to learn more about the motive by considering classifications of violence and how this individual crime fits with current theory.

Classifications of Violence

Hostile and Instrumental Motivation
Some theories have attempted to classify violence according to the underlying motivation of the aggressor; one of these theories makes a clear distinction between a hostile and an instrumental motivation. In incidences of hostile violence the primary motivation is to inflict harm or injury, this is often linked with emotions such as anger and fear.  In instances of instrumental violence the actions of the aggressor may cause harm but harm is not the primary motivation, these types of attack are usually motivated by other objectives, offenders’ committing instrumental acts of violence are usually acting to maximize their benefits (usually a financial reward) and minimize the potential costs of their actions (getting caught), as such the level of violence is usually much lower.

Cornell et al (1996) conducted a study called ‘Psychopathy of instrumental and reactive violent offenders’ the coding guidelines used in this study have been published and identify several important factors to consider when attempting to classify an act of violence as hostile or instrumental:

–  Planning – degree of premeditation or preparation for aggression
–  Goal-directedness – degree to which aggression is motivated by some external gain
–  Provocation – degree of provocation, frustration or threat from victim
–  Arousal – degree of anger experienced by aggressor
–  Severity of violence – degree of injury to victim
–  Relationship to victim – closeness of relationship between victim and aggressor
–  Intoxication – intoxication on drugs or alcohol during incident
–  Psychosis – presence of psychotic symptoms during incident

Instrumental Violence
According to the researchers, planning and goal directedness are key characteristics of instrumental violence.  They also state that instrumental violence usually involves little or no provocation from the victim of the attack. These types of aggressor are motivated by goals and not emotions. They also make the following assertion:

“Sadistic aggression is a special form of instrumental aggression in which the objective is some form of pleasure (e.g., power or sexual gratification) that stems from the infliction of pain or attainment of dominance over the other person. Instrumental aggression is initiated as a means to an end rather than as an act of retaliation or self-defence.”

The researchers noted a correlation between the presence of certain characteristics of instrumental violence and level of intoxication of the aggressor, they suggested that offenders who plan to commit a crime to achieve a specific objective, especially robbery or rape may consume alcohol or drugs to make the process easier to cope with, level of emotional arousal during the attack is often low as the violence is secondary to the primary motivation.

Hostile Violence
According to the researchers, reaction to provocation and arousal are key elements of hostile violence. Hostile violence is usually the result of provocation or interpersonal conflict such as an argument or disagreement, therefore victims of hostile violence often know the aggressor. Level of violence is often high.

The researchers outline that timeframe is important when considering hostile violence. An aggressor can take a long time to act on the perceived conflict (which arouses hostility) but the aggressor is always responding to an interpersonal conflict when committing hostile violence.

Implications for our understanding of the motive

One of the reasons this crime fascinates me is that is defies a lot of what I understand about these types of violent offences and current theory and classifications for them. This particular attack seems to fit into both categories quite well. We could consider that the evidence of premeditation and the possibility that the ‘goal’ of the attack was to humiliate or degrade Meredith, possibly to ‘teach her a lesson’, allows us to place this violent attack into the instrumental category but on the other hand the fact that the victim was known to the defendants and the attack was extremely violent could lead us to conclude that the murder was an act of hostile violence.

Possible scenarios and classification

Instrumental Violence?

Scenario one: They went to the cottage armed with a knife, with the sole intention of causing Meredith pain, suffering and humiliation, a sexual assault was the tool with which to achieve this objective, they may or may not have intended to kill her. They planned to implicate Guede and clean up their own involvement.

Scenario two: They went to the cottage to do drugs, they took the knife with them for cooking knowing the ones at the cottage were blunt, they intended to steal money from Meredith and reacted violently when confronted.

Scenario three: They planned a ‘practical joke’ to scare Meredith on Halloween but she was busy with her friends in town, they waited until the following night and went to the cottage with the intention of playing the ‘practical joke’, the level of violence escalated and it got totally out of hand. Drugs may or may not have been involved.

The above scenarios all seem to be a possibility at this stage (and there are many more). An important factor to consider if we are to conclude that the murder of Meredith Kercher was an example of instrumental violence is that the crime is suggestive of both instrumental and hostile violence as the victim was known to the defendants and to Amanda, very well. Also it has been suggested that Amanda and Meredith had grown apart over little household matters such as Amanda not flushing the toilet, leaving a vibrator in the bathroom and not cleaning up after herself. It has also been suggested that Amanda may have been intensely competitive and was jealous or angry with Meredith for being what she may have perceived as ‘little miss perfect’, if the violence that night was related to Amanda’s feelings about Meredith then the motivation for the attack would be hostile and not instrumental.

Some Ideas and Conclusions

No theory is without its limitations and this is no exception. So how can a violent crime be both instrumental and hostile? Surely it is one or the other? Well we must also consider the likelihood that three people were involved, three people who may have had different motivations for taking part in an attack on Meredith (pre meditated or not), this could provide insight into individual motivations and explain the dynamic of violence. Individual motivations could include:

Amanda – Anger, jealousy, rage, scorn, a desire to get even, ‘teach her a lesson’ or theft.

Raffaele – Curiosity, desire to protect and uphold the honour of his girlfriend, dislike of Meredith for perceived wrong-doing to Amanda, sexual urges, anger, rage or theft.

Rudy – Sexual frustration, excitement, anger, a desire to feel included and accepted or theft.

With this in mind, and especially if the act was premeditated it is possible to see how individual ideas and perceptions about Meredith, the plan and the events unfolding could lead to the confusion we have seen in the typology of violence.

On the one hand we have an initial attack and a sexual assault which seems to indicate an instrumental classification but on the other hand we have a very high level of violence culminating in a very violent death which is more typical of a hostile classification.

It could therefore be argued that the confusion about typology in this case is due to individual motivations and ideas about the events of that evening, this could be the result of the presence of three individuals with three different motivations for taking part.