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.

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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…

Lies
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.

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.

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.

I would like to take a few posts to consider possible scenarios concerning the motive for the murder of Meredith Kercher. In my previous post I discussed the possibility that the attack on Meredith was premeditated, though I am currently unsure of exactly what was planned or why. The evidence implicating Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito is considerable but it only paints a part of the picture. Due to the wealth of information available, a great deal of interesting discussion on the possible motive has already taken place. As yet no definitive motive for the murder has been established.

Establishing the motive for a crime (especially a violent sexual homicide) can be difficult and though it is not essential for obtaining a guilty or not guilty verdict, understanding the motive for this type of violent crime can aid in the detection and apprehension of the perpetrator/s and, should charges be brought, help to put the crime in to some kind of perspective for a jury.

The body of Meredith Kercher was discovered on the floor of her bedroom on the 2nd November 2007, her throat had been cut. She was found concealed by a duvet; her underwear had been removed including her bra which appeared to have been cut or torn off this was found lying at her feet. Her top had been pulled up around her neck.

In the 106 page report by Judge Micheli he outlines the evidence that indicates Meredith was still wearing her bra when she was killed. Due to blood pattern analysis and imprints left at the crime scene and on the body the evidence supports the idea that Meredith led on one shoulder with her bra on but was later found on her back, her bra had been removed possibly to lead investigators to believe she had been raped. This is important because DNA found inside the victim implicates Rudy Guede who has already been sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the murder. The evidence implies the rape was staged and also that an extensive cleanup operation took place to remove traces of the defendants Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, this cleanup operation did not remove all traces of their possible involvement however and plenty of evidence supporting Guede’s involvement was left at the scene for investigators to find. This could further imply that the motivation behind the clean-up was to lead investigators to focus on the sexual element of the attack, i.e. the sexual assault in the hope that Guede alone would be implicated. Whoever staged the rape was aware that a sexual assault had taken place. This has implicated Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

Rape or sexual assault is nearly always about power or domination, though individual fantasies do play a part, humiliation and domination of the victim is often the primary objective. There is no doubt that Meredith was humiliated and as the evidence indicates she was forcibly held a certain amount of domination could be suggested, but whether this was the motive for the attack cannot be established as a given. In some cases of violent sexual homicide (dependant upon the classification or type of offence), it can be hard to establish a motive at all but research and theory about these types of crime could shed light on the possible motive for what happened to Meredith that night.

Can the murder of Meredith Kercher be classified as a sex related homicide and what do we learn about the motive as a result?

The following pieces of evidence suggest that this could be classified as a sex related homicide:

The body of the victim was found partially clothed.
The victim was sexually assaulted.
Pre-mortem injuries consistent with being forcibly held or restrained.
Particularly violent death.

Now that this has been suggested as a possible scenario, current research and theory on sexual homicide may shed some light on the type of attack and maybe possible motive for the murder of Meredith Kercher:

Theory and Categorisation of Sex Related Homicide
There are several theories about motive in sexual homicide cases. One of the more reductionist theories suggests there are just two types of sexual homicide: the ‘sadistic, or lust murderer’ and ‘rape or displaced anger murderer’, however further sexual homicide theory suggests there may be more. Vernon J Geberth is a veteran police investigator, widely respected for his in depth analysis and understanding of crime scene investigation (and his book ‘Practical Homicide Investigation’), he believes that sex related homicides fall into four distinct categories: ‘Interpersonal violence oriented disputes and assaults’, ‘Rape and/or sodomy oriented assault’, ‘deviant oriented assault commonly referred to as a lust murder or psychotic killing’ and ‘the serial murder’. These have been listed in statistical likelihood of occurrence.

Geberth believes that the most common cause of sex related homicides is: interpersonal violence this has been defined by the Violence Prevention Alliance as:

“Violence between individuals, and is subdivided into family and intimate partner violence and community violence. The former category includes child maltreatment; intimate partner violence; and elder abuse, while the latter is broken down into acquaintance and stranger violence and includes youth violence; assault by strangers; violence related to property crimes; and violence in workplaces and other institutions.”

Geberth suggests that the motive in this category is primarily anger, rage, hate, jealousy or revenge.

There is also a collective category which refers to violence committed by larger groups of people and though I have suggested that diffusion of responsibility and the gang or pack mentality could have resulted in the death of Meredith Kercher, it could be suggested that three is not a large enough group for this offence to fall into the collective category. The evidence suggests that the defendants may have had an individual role that night which leads me to believe: The attack on Meredith Kercher falls into the category of interpersonal violence.

Though there is strong evidence to suggest that there was some kind of sexual element to the crime, what makes this crime interesting and unique is that it does not absolutely fit into any particular category, some are not applicable, but one fits rather well:

Which category is the murder of Meredith Kercher likely to fall into?
In cases of violent sexual homicide where evidence that the victim has been forcibly held, sexually assaulted and the death was particularly violent (as in this case) investigators like Geberth will often conclude a rape and/or sodomy motivation. These types of sexual homicide are quite rare but are nearly always brutal and often very depraved. Psychological theory indicates that the attacker/s will often attempt to humiliate the victim and injuries are often consistent with manual strangulation, knife wounds to the neck, abdomen and genital areas. Often with killings in this category, injuries are consistent with what’s known as ‘over-kill’ i.e. the amount of force and violence used was more than is necessary to debilitate or kill the victim, this is particularly evident when considering violent crime that has been committed by those with a psychopathic personality disorder. Psychopaths are hard to stimulate and as such, investigators are more likely to see ‘over-kill’ when investigating violent crimes committed by this demographic population. Injuries are often consistent with a forcible attempt to prevent or stop the victim screaming this can lead to strangulation, asphyxiation or knife wounds to the throat or neck. Evidence of sexual assault or rape is nearly always present.

If we take the idea that the motive for the attack was to humiliate or dominate Meredith we can also argue that a rape scenario was likely as this is usually the motivation behind these attacks as well as establishing power or control over a victim that the perpetrator/s may feel they lack in other elements of their life. Though it has not been confirmed that the victim was raped she was sexually assaulted and therefore humiliated, the nature of the wounds indicates a very violent attack that is consistent with the above scenario.

Though I spent the last post discussing the idea that the attack was pre-meditated, these types of attack can be either pre-meditated or spontaneous. In these types of attack, dependent upon individual circumstances the victim may be intentionally or accidentally killed. If the victim is killed it may be because they screamed, struggled, attempted to escape or could identify the attacker.

Rape and Sexual Assault
Rape and sexual assault is nearly always about power, domination, reassurance or humiliation, it’s not about sex. Whoever did this to Meredith wanted to control her, make her submissive, humiliate, punish, degrade and frighten her. The nature of the attack is extremely brutal and depraved, though this could be explained by the presence of all three who may, to a certain extent have ‘egged’ each other on, there was almost certainly a dominant person in the room, this person was likely to be the one who inflicted the fatal knife wound. Furthermore, evidence of taunting in the form of minor cuts around the throat and defensive knife wounds on the victim’s hands, whilst the victim was forcibly restrained implies that the person wielding the knife may have sadistic tendencies. Remember that this was a first offence:  Because of the nature of the wounds and the lack of evidence of previous violent behaviour or deviance, whoever inflicted the injuries on Meredith Kercher is violent, extremely dangerous and likely to reoffend.

DNA evidence on the suspected murder weapon has implicated Amanda Knox

What does this tell us about the possible motive for the murder?


The idea that the murder fits into a rape/sodomy sexual homicide category supports the idea that the murder of Meredith Kercher could have been predominantly about power, humiliation, degradation and domination. Why the defendants would want to do this will probably remain a mystery but theory indicates that the types of people who commit these offences may do so for all sorts of reasons, they may be angry, feel scorned and want revenge they may even be jealous.

Research about these types of crimes has suggested that the perpetrator/s often feels like they have lost some sort of control in their own lives which may result in anger, because of this, a desire for power reassurance may give way to some violent sexual or sadistic fantasies that may or may not manifest themselves in a desire to punish or degrade a victim.

But women don’t take part in/organise rape or sexual assault, do they?

Contrary to popular belief, women do take part in sexual assault and rape. Look at Karla Homolka, the pretty Canadian who married serial murderer and rapist Paul Bernardo. Karla was asked by her husband what she would think if he told her he was a rapist, she replied she thought it would be ‘cool’ she assisted him in the rape and murder of several young women. Similarly, 18 year old Claire Marsh was jailed in 2001 for taking part in a sadistic gang rape of a women by a canal, in Singapore, a 16 year old girl plotted the rape of a 13 year old ‘rival’ as revenge for being belittled and a 22 year old had her friend brutally raped as punishment for stealing her boyfriend, similarly a 19 year old had her friend gang raped for sleeping with her boyfriend. With this in mind it could be feasible that Amanda took part in or organised a sexual assault to humiliate, punish or frighten Meredith, this could be for any number of reasons, maybe she was jealous or felt scorned by her in some way, maybe she was high and acted on impulse. Maybe it was a fantasy of Raffaele’s and she willingly played along. We will probably never know.

Some ideas and conclusions

The murder of Meredith Kercher was sexual in nature, this is evident from clues left at the crime scene and DNA evidence implying a sexual assault took place. Though we cannot be sure exactly what happened or why, theory and research on violent sexual homicide has indicated that a possible motivation for the attack was humiliation and domination.

A victim can be humiliated or dominated in a number of ways, but rape or sexual assault is fairly common in these cases. An attack of this kind does not have to be planned and can in some instances be spontaneous but we must consider that a knife was taken to the house when other knives at the cottage with which to threaten Meredith could have been used. This implies an element of premediation which is disturbing.

The way in which Meredith was attacked and killed was extremely brutal and though the crime scene was methodically cleaned (implying a detachment following the murder that is also disturbing) the murder appears to have been frenzied and angry. The possible scenario of domination and humiliation is a likely motive for the murder of Meredith Kercher and if this is the case it implies a level of sadism that is extremely indicative of some psychological problem.

A few days ago I received an email asking me why I thought the murder of Meredith Kercher was not premeditated. Some of you may know that I’ve so far been leaning in the direction that the murder was not planned, but the more I have read the more I’ve started leaning in the other direction. As such I’ve recently spent a great deal of time thinking about this aspect of the case, not least because understanding how the murder came about is crucial to fitting together what still remains a very complex puzzle.  The issue of whether the killing was premeditated is important for two reasons (amongst others); firstly in establishing the motive for the murder and secondly, if the defendants are found guilty and the jury is convinced that they acted with the sole intention of murdering Meredith Kercher that night, this will probably be reflected in the sentencing and influence future parole applications.

I’ve been successfully fighting the idea that the murder was premeditated for quite some time, usually with the psychological mantra ‘but they have no history of violent behaviour’, this case has and continues to surprise me regularly, not least because it defies so much of what I know about violent sexual crimes and the sorts of people that commit them.

When I first started reading about the case in detail I thought it sounded like another drug experience gone bad, with a big row thrown in and a resulting gang attack that ended tragically, but the more I have read the more I have begun to realise that things are certainly not what they seem and several troubling factors have lead me to believe that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito probably had something planned for Meredith that night. The prosecution have claimed that Meredith was murdered during a drug-fuelled sex game, referencing violent Japanese manga comics, bloodlust, extreme thrill seeking and vampires as a possible motive. I’m not sure how many people believe the prosecutions theory about what happened that night, Judge Micheli himself has dubbed it ‘fantasy’.

It’s a bit of a shame that the prosecution went in for the most fanciful tale possible as it has now led some people following the case (including myself) to believe that seriously considering any of the ideas put forward by the prosecution is both farcical and pointless. Some people have been quick to criticise Mignini for spinning his fantastical tale without really considering why he came to the conclusions he did, after all he wouldn’t want to deliberately risk making a fool of himself again, something in that house disturbed him, something was terribly amiss and with the evidence he had in front of him and an apparent lack of motive, he did the best he could with what he had. Even with this in mind I’ll be the first to admit that the prosecution’s theory about what happened that night is an overdramatic reconstruction of events but there is quite a bit of evidence that suggests something was planned (even if it wasn’t necessarily murder).

I only began seriously considering the idea of premeditation just a few days ago and I must say I was alarmed at the things that seemed to slot into place when I began looking at the case in a different way, it’s easy to get bogged down with crime/psychology theory without actually considering how the individual parts fit together, this is such a unique and important crime for so many reasons and some of the evidence suggestive of premeditation includes:

Communications

The Phones
Part of the reason I began reconsidering my perspective on premeditated murder was in part due to the email sent to me a few days ago that listed mobile phone activity as one of the ‘red flags’ for premeditation. I’d heard a lot about the phone activity but didn’t realise quite how much the phone evidence actually supports the idea that the attack on Meredith was in some way premeditated. The PMF ‘Primary Comprehensive Timeline’ really helped me out with this bit.

Evidence seems to indicate that the defendants Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito switched their mobile phones off at the same time on the evening of the 1st November 2007 at around 8.40pm. Though it is not unusual for people to switch off their mobile phones it does seem odd that AK and RS would do so at the same time and so early on in the evening, especially if we consider they may have been expecting a phone call from a parent/friend at some point. Raffaele’s dad tried to call him on the landline in his apartment at around 8.40pm but it was not picked up or returned that night. If RS was in his apartment the whole time (as he has claimed) why did he not pick up the call? If they were ‘busy’, why not call him back afterwards? Probably because RS wasn’t at his apartment that night, he was somewhere else and his mobile phone was switched off.

From what I have read it seems Amanda, like any young woman of her age far away from home, was a fairly regular user of her mobile phone and records have indicated she often used her phone late into the night. Police noted that she sent a text message along the lines of “ok, see you later” to her boss Patrick Lumumba (as a response to him telling her not to bother coming into work that night) not long before the phones were switched off. Incidentally Patrick’s phone was recorded in the vicinity of the cottage at around 8.38pm. The evidence seems to indicate that the mobile phones were not switched back on until very early (around dawn) on the morning of the 2nd November 2007.

Strangely, Amanda allegedly sent a flurry of text messages to Meredith on Halloween asking to meet up and whether she had a costume etc, this seems a bit odd as testimony from Meredith’s friends indicates the two weren’t really very good friends, Amanda had her own company (RS) and would have known Meredith was out with her own friends and drinking alcohol, why was she so intent on meeting up with her that night? Did they have something planned for Halloween instead (when Meredith was tipsy and probably easier to control or manipulate) or does the flurry of text messages now seem more ominous because of what happened later?

I’m no expert on mobile phones (some excellent discussion has already taken place over at PMF) but the evidence suggests a break in the pattern of regular mobile phone use that night. It could be suggested that AK and RS wanted some privacy, maybe while they were eating or having sex but I find it hard to believe that one would need to switch a mobile phone off in order to obtain that kind of privacy, surely the ‘silent’ function would do? Turning both mobile phones off at the same time seems a bit like putting up a ‘do not disturb’ sign. It could be possible that whoever suggested switching off the phones knew something about mobile phone signal and triangulation, someone who knows all about computer science perhaps?

One commenter on the site sent me the following link which seems like a very useful guide, though it’s a US Dept Commerce document, I can imagine the Italians have a similar phone infrastructure to that in the US so similar principles to mobile phone forensics could be applied. It’s called ‘Guidelines on Cell Phone Forensics’ you can find it here

The Email
In a previous post I discussed the email Amanda sent to 23 of her family and friends 2 days after the murder and shortly before she was arrested. In it Amanda has a virtually perfect recall of everything that happened in the afternoon before the murder took place, shortly before the body was found and what happened afterwards. Amanda is very vague about what she was doing the actual night of the murder. Though this is suspicious it is not evidence of premeditation, the way she discusses in very precise detail Meredith’s movements and actions on the afternoon of the 1st November 2007 (and that Raffaele was present in the cottage during this time) indicates a fixation on Meredith at this point in time that, considering what happened later that evening is eerily worrying. Were Amanda and Raffaele watching Meredith that afternoon? Amanda mentions Meredith said “bye and left for the day” , Raffaele himself has also said “Meredith was there but she left in a hurry about 4 pm without saying where she was going”, why would they want to know where she was going? Why does it even matter? Did they ask her? Did they want to know what time she would be back? Did Meredith tell them? Were they waiting for her when she got back? Or does the content of the email describing Meredith’s precise actions and movements (like the flurry of text messages sent on Halloween) seem more significant because of what happened later?

The Presence of Rudy Guede

For a long time I’ve been wondering exactly where Rudy Guede fits in with what happened that night. Why was he there? Both defendants have denied any kind of friendship or prior relationship with him and despite the recent break in at the house, the evidence we have so far seems to indicate that the lone wolf theory is not credible, Kermit’s excellent powerpoint presentation on the recent break-in at 7 Via Della Pergola outlines why this recent break in does not lend any credibility to the lone wolf theory, you can download it here.

Rudy Guede has been found guilty and is currently serving a 30 year sentence for his part in the murder and sexual assault of Meredith Kercher, DNA (amongst other) evidence has placed Knox and Sollecito inside the cottage on the night of the murder and even the murder weapon in Knox’s hand. Testimony has indicated that Knox may have met Guede through the boys downstairs who were growing marijuana. Is it possible the two became acquaintances, even friends? People who knew Amanda have doubted this but would those people, who, it seems did not socialise much with Knox, be the best people to attest with whom she spent her time? The evidence strongly suggests that Amanda Knox knew Rudy Guede prior to the murder of Meredith Kercher, what else could explain his presence in the house that night? Why else would Amanda, being the only person in Perugia with a key, let Rudy into the house otherwise? He certainly didn’t climb through Filomena’s window that’s for sure! Raffaele probably only met Guede through Amanda, maybe he was their dealer, maybe he was just a friend or maybe even another of Amanda’s flings. Rudy Guede had no reason to be at the cottage that night, other than to deliver drugs and/or take part in the sexual assault and murder of Meredith Kercher. The presence of Rudy Guede in itself could suggest some kind of premeditated attack.

There are even more odd coincidences about Guede’s presence that could suggest a planned attack. I like a few others believe that parts of Rudy’s version of events, despite being dismissed as “a highly improbable fantasy” by Judge Micheli, may actually be based in truth (things such as times, locations and people, though the version itself is absolute rubbish). Rudy Guede claims he had a date with Meredith that night, this has since been established as false but, according to Guede he arrived at the cottage at 8.38pm, two minutes before AK and RS’s mobile phones were switched off, early reports on the case alleged that CCTV footage showed Knox entering her house at 8.43pm, alone. In fact if you look at the 8.30-9.15pm timeslot on the PMF’s ‘Primary Timeline’, there seems to be an awful lot going on. Guede claims Meredith arrived just after him at around 8.46pm, she didn’t in fact arrive home until 9.15pm upon which the victim allegedly started a phone call with her mother around 9.30pm. The fact that the phones were switched off at around 8.40pm, Rudy claims to have arrived at the house at 8.38pm and Amanda may have been caught on CCTV at 8.43pm could indicate that this was an arranged meeting time. According to the defendants they did not know Rudy Guede, according to Meredith Kercher’s friends they do not remember her meeting Guede and imply she certainly wouldn’t have invited him over for consensual sex, so what was he doing there? Dealing?

Drugs
My views on the drug angle of this case have been majorly skewed by the idea that the murder could have been premeditated. I originally thought that drug induced violence could have been the cause of the escalation that led to Meredith’s murder but now I’m not so sure, I’m fairly sure the drugs were there but maybe in a different capacity, like an aperitif . Rudy Guede could have been at the cottage to deal drugs, in fact this could have been one of his roles that night, the only thing that is stumping me is, if they decided they did want to do a couple of fat lines of coke and dance about like idiots, why didn’t they do it at Raffaele’s place? Or in town? It does sound like drugs are rife in Perugia and now that I’m considering the case in more detail than before it seems odd that they would have chosen to do drugs at the cottage in plain view of Meredith if they had not planned to see Meredith that evening.

Was Rudy a Pawn?

The person that emailed me also pointed out that considering what may have happened that night there seemed to be a prior relationship between Amanda and Rudy with a kind of trust that would have taken quite a while to build up. Though in principle I agree I also think it’s likely that Rudy could have been attracted to Amanda, maybe even had sex with her and could have been more likely to trust her as a result, this kind of trust could have built up pretty quickly and I’m fairly sure that Amanda could have had Rudy under her thumb in no time at all, just look how quickly her relationship with Raffaele intensified. It seems that Rudy fancied Meredith and, if he and Amanda were friends or acquaintances, knowing they lived in the same house, Rudy may have confided in Amanda in the hope that she might be able to get him a date. Is it possible that Amanda used Guede to form part of a kind of sick ‘punishment’ for Meredith? Why else would Rudy have shown up at the house that night? Why would Amanda have wanted to ‘include’ him? If Amanda invited Rudy to the cottage that night, considering what happened it’s fair to say that something must have been planned.

Clean-Up
It seems that any friendship or trust that had been built up between Amanda and Rudy quickly evaporated when they were faced with a bloody crime scene, Amanda and Raffaele may have convinced Rudy to go out into town to be seen by witnesses or he may have taken off of his own accord, either way the cleanup operation commenced later that evening along with the staging of the rape. The couple planned to leave only traces of Guede’s involvement intact, including the un-flushed faeces in the toilet and the bloody handprint; this could indicate they planned to incriminate him all along. The clean-up operation must have required a strong, clear mind, imagine trying to remember where you had put your hands, everything you had touched as well as everything the victim and the other people with you had touched. Cleaning up your own involvement but making sure to leave evidence behind to implicate someone else is not any easy job, especially when a lot of the evidence needing to be erased is invisible or so small you need very good eyes (or a bright lamp) to see it. It took a very precise mind to alter that crime scene, one that was detached, calm and organised. I’m fairly sure this could not be the result of improvisation, this could further support the idea that the murder may have been premeditated.

The Knife

The suspected murder weapon is a 13.4 inch kitchen knife, it reportedly has the victims DNA on the tip of the blade and Amanda’s on the handle. It was found hidden in Raffaele’s apartment and (the prosecution believe) it had been thoroughly bleached. This knife belonged to Raffaele and lived in the drawer in his apartment. It was probably used for cooking. Testimony from others living with Meredith and Amanda has stated that it was not a knife from 7 Via Della Pergola. Why then, was it taken to the cottage, reportedly used to kill Meredith Kercher, taken back to Raffaele’s apartment, thoroughly bleached and hidden?

For quite some time I thought the reports that a small piece of mushroom had been found lodged in Meredith’s throat (even though her friends stated her last meal contained no mushroom) were significant as this implied that the knife may have been used for chopping mushrooms on the night of the murder. I also thought that if the knives at the cottage were blunt, it may have been possible that Amanda and Raffaele took a knife with them knowing it would be impossible to cook with what was at the cottage. Without knowing the standard of the knives at the cottage it would be impossible to say whether this is a likely scenario or not. On the other hand, who needs a sharp knife to chop mushrooms? A fork could probably do the job! Another reason I doubted the knife was taken with the intention of murdering Meredith was its appearance. Raffaele collected knives; I’m not sure what kind though I can imagine he probably had a favourite. It seemed likely to me that had he planned to use a knife with which to kill he would have chosen one that had a special kind of significance for him (especially if we are to believe all of this vampire, orgy, execution stuff), something ornate, gilded perhaps, but it’s not, it’s your bog standard, run-of-the-mill, ordinary, boring kitchen knife. Why this one? Why not something special? This has stumped me for some time and indeed it was the main reason I doubted that the murder of Meredith Kercher was premeditated, yet when I began to take out these small points I had clung onto in the hope that this was not all an elaborate game, I began to realise that the knife could have been chosen for the fact that it was so ordinary, it would blend nicely with the others in the drawer and the fact that it came from another apartment they may have thought it would never be found.

Some Ideas and Conclusions

These are a couple of the ideas I have had in relation to the murder possibly being premeditated and they do seem to make more sense than a petty argument gone wrong. There is still a chance that the murder was not planned, I don’t really want to go into the possible motives here but a planned rape seems fairly credible, but then we’re back to that knife again….

I seem to have done a bit of a u-turn recently from thinking the murder was spontaneous and drug fuelled to thinking they may have sat there, strummed the guitar and planned what they wanted to do to Meredith all afternoon, maybe the wheels were in motion long before Halloween.

I think it’s likely that I didn’t want to consider the murder was just a very sick game and maybe even wanted to cling onto the hope that they intended to let her get out alive. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe it was all just a game.

And that’s the worst thing of all

* I have added to the end of this post a simply excellent comment I recieved from Greggy in response to this post, which outlines perfectly how we would have expected Amanda to have behaved had she been completely innocent of any involvement.

The body of Meredith Kercher was discovered on the floor of her bedroom on the 2nd November 2007. She had been stabbed in the neck, sexually assaulted and left to die. Just two days after the body was found, her American housemate Amanda Knox (by that time, probably well on her way to becoming a suspect) wrote this email to 23 of her family and friends.

I must confess I have never seen anything like this. To put it in some sort of context: Sending this email just days after your housemate (and friend) has been brutally murdered in the house you share, is a little bit like taking all your clothes off, walking to the police station and presenting them with a selection of handmade cakes, decorated (in blood) with the words ‘I killed my friend and I really don’t want to get caught’. It’s completely unnecessary, totally bonkers and a good indication that she was almost certainly involved in some capacity.

I’m currently working from the assumption that the formatting, content and structure of the email are Amanda’s own and that it has been posted ‘warts and all’ including structural and grammatical errors. With these points in mind, a few things about this email strike me as particularly indicative of guilt:

Lack of emotional response or fear and evidence of psychological detachment

The first thing that struck me when I read the email was its cold statement like tone. It’s almost as if Amanda is talking to the police, not her friends and family. At no point does Amanda directly indicate that she was afraid even when walking around the house she suspected had recently been burgled. After the discovery of the body she does not mention her emotional reaction to it or the reactions of other people present. This is supported by the testimony of Meredith’s friends who were surprised and disturbed by Amanda’s bizarre behaviour and lack of emotion or empathy at the police station. Sure it’s true that many people take death in different ways and some may go into shock. Amanda was not in shock. Amanda wasn’t feeling anything at all.

Amanda does briefly mention how she felt about Meredith at the beginning of the email where she describes her friend as being “english, beautiful, funny.” Yet Amanda has no praise for Meredith in life or in death other than to comment on her nationality, level of attractiveness and sense of humour which is an interesting insight into traits that are important or significant for her. Amanda expresses no kind words for the family and no reaction to the news that her friend is dead.

One point that interested me was, despite her lack of ability to process emotion, she mentions a guy she doesn’t like (Shaky) arriving at the police station, this is seemingly one of the only emotions she expresses, one of personal distaste. Also another interesting point to bear in mind; Amanda refers to her email as an “update”, either this implies she already knows that people are aware of the situation (and it is actually an update) which would contradict the content which implies this is not true, or she genuinely believes that this sort of message is actually an update instead of life-changing news.

Selective detail, contradictions and chronological order of events

Amanda states the purpose of the email is to inform family and friends of her account of “how i found my roommate murdered the morning of friday, november 2nd.” Though Amanda never found Meredith’s body or even saw it when the door was broken down, she later goes on to say “but when they opened merediths door and i heard filomena scream “a foot! a foot!” in italian i immedaitely tried to get to merediths room but raffael grabbed me and took me out of the house.” This is the first of many contradictions in this email. Firstly Amanda states that her email contains the details of how she found her friends body, then she states she was taken out of the house before she could get to the room where the body was found. Which is it Amanda? Did you find the body or didn’t you? Other people present at the police station and in Perugia in the subsequent days following the murder remember Amanda seeming proud about ‘finding the body’.

Memory of the events of the morning and afternoon (Nov 1st)
Amanda seems to have a virtually perfect memory of the events before and after the murder took place. She remembers exactly what she was doing the morning and afternoon of the 1st of November, allegedly the last time she saw Meredith alive. Amanda remembers in very precise detail when she went home, that Meredith was sleeping, her own location within the kitchen ,what Meredith was saying and doing, the fact she still had blood on her chin from the costume she’d worn out for Halloween, what Raffaele was eating and when Meredith took a shower.

I believe the detail: “meredith came out of the shower and grabbed some laundry or put some laundry in, one or the other and returned into her room after saying hi to raffael”, is highly deceptive.  In the previous paragraph Amanda has demonstrated an almost perfect recall of what Meredith had been saying and doing that morning, almost as if she had been watching her the whole time. With the previously alarming recall of Meredith’s precise movements and the fact that it’s pretty obvious whether someone is loading or unloading a washing machine it seems that the washing machine is a stress point for Amanda, the mop is also a stress point which I will discuss in more detail later.

Memory of the events of the evening and of the subsequent day (Nov 2nd)
Now I don’t know about you but if I was going to write a narrative odyssey of my precise actions and whereabouts before and after the murder of my housemate and friend I’d probably remember to include at least some detail about what I was doing the night my friend was actually killed. Bearing in mind Amanda’s penchant for detail, she offers this as an explanation for what she was doing that afternoon and evening: “after a little while of playing guitar me and raffael went to his house to watch movies and after to eat dinner and generally spend the evening and night indoors. we didnt go out.” Does this strike anyone as particularly odd? With the previous level of detail about the mornings events and details of the day after the murder continuing for pages and pages. Amanda offers the reader the most benign, vague and convenient excuse that they ‘generally’ spent ‘the evening and night indoors’ and ‘did not go out’.  Telling indeed. Amanda also discusses in great detail what happened when she got up the following morning around 10.30am and went back to the cottage. Amanda takes the readers on a journey through the cottage, making sure to point out the seemingly ‘obvious’ evidence of a break-in. It’s overly dramatic and completely detached, it felt like I was reading a bad CSI script.

At one point she tries to explain the presence of blood in the bathroom as being from her ears which she had recently had pierced “extensively”, then discounts this as insignificant. As with the previous section of the email (and assuming her version of events is true) she has seemingly excellent recall of what happened before, during and after the discovery of the body but not what she was doing at the time Meredith was killed. We could always blame the magic cop out bud, but we all know it doesn’t exist.

Amanda’s recollection of detail is too good and in her email she comes across like an actress practising her lines to the only audience that will believe what she has to say.

People construct lies in chronological order; therefore it would make sense that Amanda is telling her lie in chronological order but without referring to precise actions and whereabouts the night of the murder. It’s too vague. Some people might argue that as she is talking to her family and friends she does not need to defend herself and say what she was doing that night as they would assume she had nothing to do with it. If this is the case, why the spiel? Why the defensive tone? She might not be at the police station making a statement but it certainly seems she perceives it that way.

Bad spelling, grammar and punctuation

The spelling, grammar and punctuation are appalling as is the sentence structure and flow. As a language student (and we are led to believe a very smart one at that) one would expect her grasp of the English language to be slightly better, after all she’s telling the story of a lifetime. The errors could indicate that she was very tired when the email was written or in a state of high panic and/or stress.

Defensive tone and too much detail

The email is highly defensive in nature. Right from the very beginning Amanda wants the readers to know it is her side of the story. Rather than displaying any kind of empathy for the victim she launches into a scatty and badly structured rant about: the front door, the hairdryer, the faeces in the toilet, the faucet in the bathroom, the mat and why she needed to bring the mop back to Raffaele’s house. The mop is another stress point for Amanda. When the postal police arrived Amanda and Raffaele were holding a mop looking “embarrassed and surprised”.  As the evidence indicates a fairly thorough clean-up of the house, I imagine that Amanda would be fairly eager to explain away the presence of that mop pretty quickly.

Amanda claims that they needed to bring the mop “because after dinner raffael had spilled a lot of water on thefloor of his kitchen by accident and didnt have a mop to clean it up.” This is highly indicative of deception; a liar will often use too much detail and elaborate in order to convince you that their version of events is so full of detail and so specific that they couldn’t possibly have made it up. However the liar usually falls down in a similar way to people who stage a crime scene, they will often create the lie in a way that makes sense to them which is often illogical and lacking in common sense or any basis in reality. The fact that Amanda simply had to get the mop to clean up the water on the floor is nonsense; nobody would leave a big puddle of water on the floor overnight because they didn’t have a mop to clean it up you’d use a towel or some newspaper.  Also, if you simply had to have the mop, why not take the five minute walk over to the house and get it, it’s not far. It seems Amanda’s version of events does not add up, she wanted to clear up the water but she didn’t want to do it that night and she definitely, definitely wants them to know she didn’t go to the cottage *sighs* how amateur.

Identification with victim, self and others

I find the following comment about why the police were asking her too many questions very strange: “because i was the closest to her”. Anyone could have testified that Meredith and Amanda were close initially but drifted their own separate ways. Amanda is almost boasting here and seemingly trying to insinuate a close personal relationship with the victim that did not really exist.  Amanda mentions Meredith roughly 22 times in the whole email and uses first person singular words (such as I) nearly a thousand times. We would expect her to use quite a few of these words as she is telling a story, but Amanda rarely mentions anyone other than herself. She frequently spells the names of other people wrong, including her boyfriend Raffaele, whom she refers to as her ‘friend’ throughout. Amanda does not identify with any of the other ‘characters’ in the story and at no point does she make any effort to understand how they must be feeling. She is very detached, almost like she is writing a rather disjointed short story.

Certain parts of the email detail how she was annoyed at only having her bag and passport at the police station, being cold, having a stomach ache because of vending machine food, not wanting to repeat herself (despite repeatedly doing so throughout the email), not being able to leave Italy, not having any underwear or clothes and having to pay the next months’ rent without being able to live in the house. It reads like a narcissists manifesto. All this without expressing a single, solitary drop of emotion for the victim or her family and without even a flicker of fear. Truly, frighteningly disturbing.

Purpose of email

At this stage I believe Amanda already knew she was a suspect and was distancing herself from Raffaele. She mentions not being able to leave Italy and wanting to continue her studies without knowing if it will be possible, this is not exactly the sort of thing you worry about in an email informing people that the body of your friend has been found in the house you shared.

At this stage of the investigation the police had almost certainly noted her odd behaviour as had the people close to Meredith and were seriously considering her as a suspect. This email was both a bitter lie and a cry for help as the police were closing in and Amanda realised she really had nobody left to turn to who would believe what she had to say.  She knew she was going to be arrested.

(update below)

Greggy wrote: “To a narcissist, everything is me, me, me. How should of AK reacted if she was an innocent narcissist? First, she would have run screaming from the house as soon as she saw blood, called the police several times, and bragged to everyone about being at the murder scene and the trauma it inflicted on her. She would brag that she found the body (wait, she did do that). She would demand immediate police protection from the killer who came to the cottage, not for that British girl but to kill her. She would quickly leave school because she no longer had a nice place to live and wouldn’t go near her old house ever again. She would say her old clothes and belongings had bad karma now and demand that her parents buy her all new things. She would give newspaper interviews emphasizing that she was Miss Kercher’s best friend (take my picture, I am gorgeous!). She would adore talking to the police and everyone else about the crime exaggerating more and more details until the police realized she was a worthless witness and deport her back to Seattle. She would tell the Seattle newspapers that she was writing a book about the crime and its effects on her. She would thank Italy for being a wonderful country with nice people. These are some of the activities an innocent narcissist would possibly do. Miss Knox’s behavior has been decidedly different.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Why didn’t you do this Amanda? Are you ever going to tell us the truth?