Friday, April 11, 2008

Mystery Man - Peter Van Sant (1 of 2 parts)

by Peter Van Sant
CBS Correspondent
and Author

This is a murder case that, from the beginning, just didn't seem to add up. The background here is very important to gain perspective on this investigation.

Amanda Knox is the classic all-American girl. She was a straight-A student at Seattle Prep, one of the top Jesuit high schools in the country. She plays guitar and has a wonderful singing voice, starring in a production of "Annie." A tall brunette, Amanda's beauty turns heads wherever she goes. Her smile radiates.

Her biological parents divorced when Amanda (pictured right) was very young, but the family remained close. Mom is a math teacher. Dad is in management at a major department store. Her step father is in finance. All are good people.

Amanda went on to attend the University of Washington in Seattle, where she discovered her true passion in life, languages. She speaks fluent German (her grandparents on her mother's side are from Germany), Italian and some Japanese and Russian. Her friends descri
be her as friendly, helpful, someone who is concerned about others. Doesn't sound like the profile of a killer, does it? I admit I'm teasing you here, but please read on.

While studying in Seattle, Amanda learned about a school in
Perugia, Italy, called the University for Foreigners. Perugia is a beautiful medieval town about a two-hour drive north of Rome. The university offers students from around the world an opportunity to study in Italy. For Amanda, who was always interested in learning about different languages and cultures, it seemed the perfect place to go.

So while attending the University of Washington, Amanda worked three part-time jobs on the side. Eventually, she saved up more than $7,000. She was accepted into the University for Foreigners, and late la
st summer, she arrived in Perugia to begin a year of study abroad.

Six weeks later, Amanda was in prison--a suspect in the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher of greater London, England.

Meredith (pictured left) was a lot like Amanda. She attended Leeds University in the U.K. and dreamed of studying abroad. She got her chance last year and moved to Italy, where she attended a different school from Amanda's, the University of Perugia. Meredith needed a place to stay, and she eventually found a house she could rent with two Italian students and a young woman from Seattle, Amanda Knox.

On the night of November 1, 2007, Meredith was last seen walking home after having dinner with friends. Amanda wasn't home. She was spending the night at her boyfriend's house.

The next morning, Amanda claims she went home to shower and change her clothes. She was upset that someone had left the front door open. After her shower, when she came out of the bathroom, Amanda says she noticed some blood on the floor. She tried calling her roommates, but no one answered their cell phones. Meredith's bedroom door was locked.

Amanda called her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, who walked over to the house. Just then, police arrived. Meredith's two cell phones had been found in someone's yard. Police had come over to the house to return them.

Amanda told the police of her concerns. They broke open Meredith's door and discovered her body lying on the floor, covered with her bedspread. There was blood everywhere, including bloody finger stains on a wall.

Meredith's throat had been slashed. Authorities believe she may have taken nearly two hours to die. In the room were some tantalizing clues, a bloody fingerprint and a shoe imprint left in Meredith's blood on the floor.
. . .

To be continued. Check back here Saturday to read the rest. And don't forget to watch the story at 10:00 p.m. EDT tomorrow on 48 Hours.

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