True Crime Cases I Can’t Stop Thinking About

Avery Palermo, Writer

In my free time or when I am bored, I like to watch true crime documentaries or true crime cases on youtube. Over the past years that I have been watching true crime, I have come across many cases, but there are a few that are always on my mind. 


The Murder of Meredith Kercher 


On November 1, 2007, Meredith Kercher, a British exchange student, was raped and killed in her residence in Perugia, Italy. She was 21 years old. Kercher shared an apartment with Amanda Knox, who allegedly went home the following morning after spending the night with her lover. She discovered that Kercher’s bedroom door was locked, the flat had been left unlocked, and the bathroom contained blood. She made a call to Raffaele Sollecito, her lover, to get permission to enter Kercher’s room. The police were summoned after several unsuccessful efforts to force open the door, and they were successful in entering. Kercher’s body was discovered in the bedroom, covered by a blanket and only half-dressed. She had severe knife wounds, it was found. 


Along with a third suspect named Rudy Guede, Knox and Sollecito were investigated and accused of killing Kercher and sexually assaulting her in 2008. Knox and Sollecito were convicted in 2009. They were ultimately exonerated by Italy’s Supreme Court in Rome in 2015 after they had successfully challenged their convictions in 2011 and 2014, respectively. The fact that the forensic evidence had multiple problems was what ultimately led to their acquittal.


 In 2008, Guede was found guilty and given a 30-year prison term due to a substantial body of evidence proving his guilt. Due to a reduction granted for a quick trial, his sentence was dramatically lowered from 30 years to 24 years to 16 years. Guede was freed from prison in November 2021. The following morning, Amanda Knox, who had been dating Raffaele Sollecito for six days, arrived home to take a shower and put on some fresh clothing. When she got there, she saw that the front door was left open, but she wasn’t concerned because she knew the deadlock didn’t always latch securely. She then used the bathroom to take a shower when she saw some tiny blood streaks on the bathmat and in the sink. She entered a different bathroom to blow dry her hair when she found unflushed waste in the toilet and realized Meredith’s bedroom door was closed. Sollecito was taken back with Knox after she left the scene out of worry. Upon their return, they found that one of the windows in the bedrooms was damaged. Knox tried to phone Kercher but got no response; he then called a flatmate, and finally, Sollecito dialed 911. When the Italian Military Police showed up, they had to pry open Meredith’s barred door in order to find her dead body on the floor, covered in a blanket. Investigators did not discover the murder weapon at the location of Meredith Kercher’s death. Separately, a knife recovered from Sollecito’s home was discovered to have a low-level Kercher- and Knox-matching DNA profile on the blade and handle. 


These outcomes were crucial to Knox’s defense. A  point to make from a forensic standpoint is that, despite assertions that the DNA came from Kercher’s blood, there was no sign of blood on the knife. Additionally, the prosecution used the very improbable “selective cleaning” theory to explain why Knox’s DNA wasn’t discovered at the scene. It was probable that the knife came into contact with Kercher’s DNA on a surface at the lab or during incorrect handling because anti-contamination protocols were not documented. Additionally, DNA result readings fell below the permitted level. She had previously cooked in Sollecito’s apartment, therefore the a priori expectation that Knox’s DNA would be on the knife was also disregarded. Even though Knox and Sollecito were released as a result of the final court rulings, Meredith Kercher’s murder was technically only committed by one person, according to the law. In the end, Amanda Knox was only found guilty of one offense stemming from the ‘accusation’ of her supervisor, Patrick Lumumba, who spent two weeks in jail. Due to the length of time already spent in prison, the sentence of three years in prison was not carried out. Originally scheduled for release in January 2022, Rudy Guede was given an early release in November 2021. 


The verdicts and exonerations of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox draw attention to a number of important problems with forensic evidence. Unrealistic expectations of forensic evidence were brought on by the case’s popularity in the media. Due to the attention, the prosecution decided to put up unreliable explanations for the data in order to obtain a guilty conviction. Serious errors and neglect were made from the start of the inquiry at the site to the gathering, storing, and analyzing of the evidence. There were issues with reporting, following anti-contamination protocols, testing process controls, and repetition. The exaggeration of DNA results also played a role in the injustice that took place. This case goes beyond merely being a forensic humiliation and injustice. It is the tale of a young woman, age 21, who was brutally murdered while still having a long life ahead of her. Her death has had a profound impact not only on her family and friends but also on many people all around the world.