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Deadly exchange

Amanda Knox set off to find adventure overseas in an Italian student exchange -- now she's found herself at the center of a murder investigation. Dateline reports.

This hillside Italian fortress city from the Middle Ages -- Perugia—is best known for its chocolates, not its murders.

But on Nov.1, 2007, that may have changed.

When police forced open a bedroom door in this student rental cottage, they found the naked body of a young English woman covered by a bed quilt. She'd been stabbed in the throat, her blood thoroughly soaking the cotton shirt bunched up around her neck.

All the forensic evidence pointed to attempted rape and murder.

A broken window suggested an intruder.

The awful crime here on the via Sante Antonio would quickly have been forgotten as yet another head-shaking statistic -- sad but not all that uncommon -- except for the authorities’ gruesome theory of the murder.

According to an investigating judge who issued a very preliminary kind of finding, it appears that the young English woman died at the hands of her friends. That she--the victim--refused to play along in their high-voltage game of drugs and group sex and as a consequence was tortured, sexually assaulted, stabbed and left to die.

In the days afterwards, the violent sex crime electrified Italy and beyond as pictures of three suspects appeared in the news.

Could this United Nations of disparate characters have actually done what police investigators believed?

The Italian computer student …

The Congolese bar owner...

And--oddest of all--the person who seemed to be the connective tissue to all the players, the victim's roommate, a fresh-faced 20-year old Seattle college student on a kind of junior year abroad?

Her name is Amanda Knox and she was studying Italian here at the University for Foreigners.

The riddle near the center of this lurid murder story is Amanda Knox and to begin to find out who she is we have to travel almost 6000 miles west, to Perugia's sister-city of Seattle, Washington.

In this coffee-mad city, Amanda was the bubbly barista -- the latte and cappuccino artiste -- at this busy espresso bar near the University of Washington.

She was in her junior year at the U doing dean's list level work in German and Italian studies.

She was a delight to her former dorm mates.

Dennis Murphy: What are the kind of personality traits you're thinking about? Alexandra (friend of Amanda Knox): Generous, kind, genuine, optimistic, bubbly. Pretty much all the good words that you can find in a dictionary, she was. Amanda: A welcome presence when you had the flu. Meredith: She took me over to her house. Made me a bath, made me dinner, made me tea -- put me to bed. Dennis Murphy: So she's taking care of you kind of.... Meredith: Yes. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Amanda's parents had divorced when she was two. She and her sister were raised by her mother, a grade-school teacher, in this modest single family home in West Seattle.

She attended an expensive Catholic prep school. A soccer player.

Andrew (friend of Amanda Knox): I think about her smile and how beautiful it was. It just reflected her beautiful personality.

Those who know her describe a day-dreamy young woman who liked dorky clothes and had a retro ear for classic rock, the Beatles.

Favorite movies? Easily digested fantasies like The Princess Bride and the Shrek series.

She liked to write short stories and backpack in the Cascades.

By most accounts here, Amanda was no different than thousands of other young Seattleites growing into young adulthood. Outdoorsy. Tasting the first freedom of college, first jobs, and first serious boyfriends. If there is a downside to her high-spiritedness, friends reflect that maybe she was naive in her judgment about the new people she was so eager to seek out. Boys. She tended to take in strays.

Male friend of Amanda’s: She is a bit trusting and overly optimistic. It's sort of like why shouldn't I trust this person? I haven't done anything to them. Why shouldn't I be okay with them?

To the point, her friends have said, that they had to warn her to be more careful when it came to strangers.

Amanda was known as a light drinker in her circle, tipsy after only a shot, as a now notorious cell phone video that made its way onto YouTube shows.

She wasn't one to smoke a joint or take party drugs, according to her friends.

The club scene was alien to her.

On Aug. 14 this year, she was off to Europe. The first great adventure of her life. The first time she was truly on her own.

She'd keep the posse back home up to speed on her journey through her webpage blog on MySpace.

She gave a final shout-out: "peace out suckers, loves Amanda.”

And she was off.

Meanwhile, in England another young student -- also a language major -- was preparing to leave for university studies in Italy. She was 21-year-old Meredith Kercher, a recent college graduate. Meredith, like Amanda, was going to be living in Perugia, Italy for the next school term.

Both young women had to find a place to live.

Their paths would meet in a little house with a splendid view over the Umbrian valley below.

They were two young women in Italy expecting the most exciting year of their lives.

Perugia straddles the hills in the middle of the Italian boot about a hundred miles north of Rome.

This ancient stone city can boost tourist-worthy palazzos, piazzas and tucked-away churches with gems of Renaissance art.

But for the 40,000 university students who go to school here, every bit as much of a lure is the vibrant late-night scene.

There are plenty of cool places to hang and be young together.

Zach Nowak: It's a university city but almost like a campus -- at least the top of the hill is like a university campus.

Ex-pat American Zach Nowak enjoys being a tour guide to the new arrivals. The central fountain is the hook-up place.

Zach Nowak: About 100 people all on the piazza and they'll be playing guitar, drinking beer and doing stuff that college kids do everywhere.

After a few weeks of visiting relatives in Germany, Amanda Knox, the 20-year-old American language student from Seattle, was on her way to Perugia by late August.

She arrived on the train from Florence. Amanda had to find a place to live before classes started in September at the University for Foreigners.

Near a wall on the university is a place where students post messages. And it was right there that a young Italian woman was in the process of putting up a flyer looking for a roommate. Like so much else about this murder mystery we can follow along in cyber-space as Amanda recounts what happened next in her blog.

(from Amanda's blog)

Amanda took photos of the cozy three-bedroom house, the tidy kitchen, the terrace with a five-star view.

There would be four roomies in all -- two Italian women and another foreign student arriving from England. She was 21-year-old Meredith Kercher; she'd doing some post-grad work in political history.

Amanda, meanwhile, went back to Germany for a few restless weeks.

On Sept. 20, Amanda arrived back here in Perugia, met her new roommate Meredith, dropped her bags, and dove immediately into the student scene. She'd always worked odd jobs to make ends meet and the former barista from Seattle quickly got herself hired here, at this popular hangout bar, Le Chic. Student by day, waitress every Tuesday and Thursday night, $65 bucks a week plus tips. Amanda wrote that she loved meeting new people, off-beat characters and Le Chic had a steady supply of those.

Lumumba: She was the first American we met and we hired her because of that.

Amanda's boss was a 38-year-old Congolese man called Patrick Lumumba, the bar's owner. He'd been in Perugia almost 20-years, an African student who never went home. He sang reggae music and was known to one and all on the bar circuit.

The bar owner was increasingly displeased with his new American waitress for flirting and dancing with the customers and he told her so.

Lumumba: Things didn't go very well. Often, I would have to remind her to take care of the customers. She would apologize but would eventually get distracted by her friends.

Lumumba was thinking of firing her.

And Amanda was getting on someone else's nerves too. The new roommate from England, Meredith, found the American sloppy around the house.

Richard Owen (reporter for the London Times): Never picked up, wouldn't do the chores. Never put out the garbage.

And more worrying was the parade of men Amanda was bringing back to the cottage.

Richard Owen, correspondent for the London Times in Italy, is filing almost daily stories based on what his sources in the investigation are telling him, including one report that Meredith told her British girlfriends she was actually scared of some of the strays Amanda came home with on a regular basis.

Owen: People who Meredith Kercher distrusted. Didn't like the look of. It appears that it got to the point where she actually confronted Amanda about this. Murphy: So she's waking up in the morning and there's somebody in the kitchen making tea. It's “Who are you, again?” Owen: That's right, yeah. Exactly that. And so it, the picture builds up, really, of maybe four, five perhaps more, points of friction between these two girls who previously hadn't known each other at all.

Still, it was Italy in the glorious fall and neither roommate had time to squander on petty fights.

Perugia is the Hershey Pennsylvania of Italy and the annual chocolate festival was underway in the streets. If love wasn't in the air, then companionship--the casual hook-up--certainly was.

At a concert about three-weeks into her Italian adventure, Amanda met a 23-year old-Italian computer engineering student named Raffaele Sollecito. He's a prominent doctor's son with his own apartment, a collection of exotic knives and an expensive German car.

Owen: Clearly not short of cash and I think is much taken with this bright and breezy energetic American girl, blonde American girl who immediately takes up with him and indeed sleeps with him on the first night they meet.

Meredith, the roommate, had found a boyfriend, too. A guitar player in a band who lived in an apartment beneath the rental house.

Meredith, like Amanda, had favorite nightspots.

Richard Owen: I think there is a picture being painted here of a girl who perhaps certainly enjoyed going out and enjoyed the discos and the pubs but with reservations. Did not take things to extremes, in other words. She had limits.

Despite the tension between the roomies, and separate circles of friends, Amanda and Meredith did the bar circuit together sometimes.

We know Meredith had accompanied Amanda to Lumumba's bar for her job interview.

Meredith reportedly hit it off that night with Lumumba, and she told him about a delicious mojito she knew how to concoct. The bar owner tucked away the information.

Perugia was turning out to be student heaven: classes followed by party nights waiting around every bend. Halloween was the next rave up.

Raffaele -- the doctor's son -- costumed as a ghoulish surgeon with a cleaver showed up at Lumumba's bar that night with Amanda, who didn't work Wednesdays.

Meredith and her pals were bar hopping too. Meredith dressed as a vampire with fake blood trickling down her mouth on Oct. 31. Next to her was a partyer wearing the mask made famous in "Scream" the student slasher horror series.

The following day was a solemn Catholic holy day--All Saints Day. The partied-out students slept-off the night before. The two Italian roommates at the rental house had gone home for what would be, in effect, a long weekend.

Meredith and Amanda had lunch together at the house, then Meredith went to visit her English girlfriends for a quiet evening of pizza and a video. One of the friends walked her partway home a little after 9 p.m.

The next day, Nov. 2, is observed on some Christian calendars as the Day of the Dead.

It was all that and more, it would turn out, at the student rental on Via Sant' Antonio, the villa the Italians would soon be calling the "House of Horrors."

Meredith Kercher -- last photographed with fake blood on her lips -- had been found and was being photographed by a crime scene technician in a pool of very real blood. Her own.

Richard Owen: It was described by the investigating judge as a chilling scene.

There were finger marks on the jaw. A small knife puncture on the underside of the chin. Her torn and scattered jeans and underwear, and DNA recovered in the body, described the sexual torture of a woman being forced to her knees.

As crime scene investigators worked the house inside, the American roommate and her Italian boyfriend were photographed outside tenderly comforting one another.

Richard Owen: The police, of course, immediately sealed the scene in order to avoid any tampering with the scene of the crime and Amanda, Raffaele and all friends of the dead girl were called in for questioning.

Amanda Knox told the Italian authorities she had no idea what had happened -- but her story would change, and change yet again, as physical evidence: bloody prints, DNA, cell phone records suggested to authorities a group sex and drugs party that ended in unimaginable horror.

With her roommate murdered, Amanda Knox's butterfly days of youth and innocence had ended on an Umbrian hillside.

Investigators found that 21-year-old Meredith Kercher had slowly choked to death from a stab wound to her throat, alive for perhaps an hour or more, lying on her back, drowning in her own blood.

Reporter Richard Owen is covering the story for the London Times.

Richard Owen: The judge's report on this says that she died a slow and agonizing death.

The revelation of the murder began here a quarter mile away from the crime scene when a woman in this apartment building discovered that a cell phone had been tossed in her garden. She called the police and they traced the phone to one Meredith Kercher.

As the police approached Meredith Kercher's house to return the apparently stolen cell phone, they saw two people outside. Amanda Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaeale Sollecito. They told the cops that it looked as though someone had broken into the house.

Amanda told the police she'd spent Thursday night, Nov. 1, at her boyfriend Raffaele's house and returned home about 10:30 a.m. Friday morning only to see her front door open and spots of blood on the bathroom mat.

Despite the very troubling signs of a break-in, Amanda says she still took a shower then went to get her boyfriend. That's when the police showed up about 12:30 p.m.

Richard Owen: The police then find that Meredith Kercher's bedroom door is locked and they break--and that Amanda and Raffaele are concerned about this--they break it down and they find her body with her throat cut.

The electrifying story went international when Italian investigators--based on early forensic evidence--theorized that Meredith had been killed because she refused to play along in a group sex game.

Who'd been in the house? Who held the knife or knives? The crime scene technicians gathered bags of evidence from the cottage as detail after shocking detail was leaked to reporters.

The media had a field day when it found Amanda's MySpace webpage. Her online nickname was "Foxy Knoxy." She'd posted a leggy glam shot of herself as well as a disturbing short story about a rapist who says about women, "A thing you have to know about chicks is that they don't know what they want ... you have to show it to them."

Amanda was played as the American with the ice-cold eyes.

Her boyfriend Raffaele had a webpage site too with that ghoulish photo of him holding a meat cleaver.

He described himself as "Christian ... honest peaceable sweet but sometimes totally crazy."

Dennis Murphy: Sollecito says that he has a taste for marijuana. He enjoys it, it calms him down. Owen: He does. He admits that.

Raffaele also blogged that he sought out "extreme sensations."

His story was he'd never been at the house that night. He was home watching the movie "Amelie" and downloading stuff on his computer.

Amanda told the police she was with her boyfriend the whole night after spending the evening smoking marijuana.

Richard Owen: Her first story is that she was at Raffaele's flat. And came back the next morning with him to find, to find the body, a tale of shock on the part of a flat mate. Except that according to police and witnesses she showed very little emotion when questioned by police. However she insisted that she was not there.

But that first account from Amanda was about to change in eye-popping fashion.

Then the Italian papers were leaked a juicy morsel, more about Amanda and Raffaele's weird demeanor, a growing theme in the coverage.

On Saturday, the day after Meredith had been found murdered, Amanda and her boyfriend reportedly made a spectacle of themselves shopping for lingerie in a store off the city's main square, making out, and talking loudly about getting it on.

Richard Owen: Their conversation was clearly overheard by the store keeper who took the money at the till and heard, heard them saying this to each other the day after her flat mate’s body has been discovered. This is very odd behavior. Dennis Murphy: This is really hot underwear and we're going to have a great time tonight? Owen: It was, precisely right. It is a couple of thongs and why don't we go home and, as you say, have a great time in bed.

By this time Italian authorities were bugging every phone call placed and received by the young lovers. Amanda is reported to have said to Raffaele "I can't keep this up."

The two were brought in for repeated questioning at the police station. Amanda insisted Meredith was "sweet and sensitive,” a friend she loved living with.

But the investigators were getting their lab work back and the pair's alibi didn't match what they were finding. They'd seized the boyfriend's knife collection.

An analysis of his computer revealed that he hadn't been on-line for hours downloading as he'd claimed.

And authorities wanted to know why both Amanda and Raffaele turned off their cell phones the night of the murder at almost exactly the same time, 8:40 p.m. Was it to avoid being tracked by the cell phone towers?

Four days after the body was found, Amanda and her boyfriend were arrested as suspects.

That's when Amanda cracked and came out with a totally new story. Yes--she had been at the house the night Meredith was murdered and -- a startling new detail -- so was her boss from the bar, Patrick Lumumba.

Amanda said she'd arranged to meet Lumumba at the nearby basketball court about 8:30 p.m. the night of the murder and together they walked the short distance to the rental house to await Meredith's return from her night of pizza and a movie.

Richard Owen: Well, then she said that he had desired Meredith. He had wanted to go to bed with her, basically, and that she had helped him to meet Meredith. That at the cottage Patrick had disappeared into Meredith’s bedroom, that she, Amanda, was outside the bedroom ... and as Patrick Lumumba attacked her flat mate and she put her fingers in her ears and doesn't remember what happened afterwards.

Lumumba was arrested at his apartment. But if Amanda thought that her new story, laying the murder on Lumumba, would get her and her boyfriend off the hook, it didn't work.

Her mother had flown in from Seattle for a prison visit.

(Amanda's mother talking to press)

There were plenty of forensic details still to process and sort through, but the authorities were confident the three had been in on it together. Lumumba, Amanda and the boyfriend in a haze of drugs and sexual thrill-seeking had ended up murdering Meredith Kercher. Case closed.

But there was a problem with Case Closed. A big one. The forensic experts had found irrefutable evidence of a fourth suspect in the house, a man.

With Amanda in prison, Italian investigators revealed they were looking for a fourth suspect in the stabbing death of her roommate Meredith Kercher.

The man had left behind a bloody left hand print on a pillowcase found beneath the victim's head.

He'd also used the bathroom and neglected to flush, leaving DNA that matched other genetic evidence found on the murdered woman's body.

When they ran the bloody print, up came the name and photo not of Patrick Lumumba but someone else: Rudy Hermann Guede, a 20-year-old Perugia street hustler and general hangabout.

Student tour guide Zach Nowak recognized Rudy's face in the news right away. He was the lone wolf of the Piazza.

Zach Nowak: He's not someone I saw with other friends sitting there socializing. He's a guy who went in and out of bars and you'd see him at night walking the streets. Dennis Murphy: Did this guy Rudy have a reputation for being a drug guy? He was the guy who could find you some smoke? Zach Nowak: No, but he did have a reputation for being sort of the guy who bugged the girls. To the point where the girl would go to the bartender and say “Look, this guy is bugging me. Can you tell him to leave?”

Rudy was born in Africa's Ivory Coast but had been in Italy since the age of five. A local family who adopted him seems to have washed its hands of him when he got into minor scrapes with the law and he swapped working for hanging out at the basketball court.

And, like Amanda and her crowd, Rudy had put himself up on YouTube making creepy faces.

"I'm a vampire," he says in the video, "Count Dracula. I'm going to' suck your blood."

The Italian papers reported that the night of the murder Rudy was seen later dancing into the wee hours at a Perugia student disco.

Why, asked the police, had Amanda and he reportedly talked by cell phone both before and after the murder?

The biggest question was: where was Rudy now?

The police quickly had a high-tech line on Rudy's whereabouts.

Richard Owen (reporter): They knew that he had used the internet a lot and had a 'Skype' account and they tracked it.

A SKYPE account allows people to talk computer to computer over the internet using it as a telephone.

Rudy, it turned out, was making calls to his friends in Perugia from Germany. Dusseldorf. He was in quick order arrested.

Rudy Guede was returned to Italy on Dec. 5. At first he claimed he wasn't in the cottage the night of the murder. Now, like Amanda, he's changed his initial story. In statements to both German authorities and to his lawyer, Rudy says he was in the house with Meredith when she died. He said they'd made a date the night before, on Halloween when she'd been dressed as a vampire. A date to meet at her house for a get-together that ended in consensual sex.

They went to bed, said Rudy, then he went down the hall to the bathroom with a bout of stomach cramps. He said he had his iPod on up loud when he heard Meredith screaming.

Richard Owen: He emerged from the bathroom to see her lying in a pool of blood and “an Italian I did not know” grasping a knife in his left hand. He and the unknown Italian then struggled. The Italian wounded him in the palm of his right hand and fled making some kind of racist remark as he did so, something to the effect that “they say in Italian a black man found is a black man condemned.” On other words, “they're going to think it was you.”

Rudy says he then cradled a dying Meredith in his arms who managed to whisper only the sound "Aff..."

Richard Owen: And Italian media has speculated that 'aff" might be Raffaele. Dennis Murphy: That was a very operatic story, Richard... Owen (laughing): It is... Murphy: Final scene, dying in the arms, gasping out the name of the killer. Owen: That's right. It' something, like something out of a thriller and it may be the police are skeptical about this version and it may indeed be a scenario taken from a thriller or a crime film.

While crime-scene technicians were finding rock-solid evidence of Rudy's presence in the murder house, they were coming up with nothing forensically on Lumumba, Amanda's boss from the bar.

No prints, no DNA, no bugged phone conversations implicating him.

On the same day Rudy Guede was arrested in Germany, Patrick Lumumba was released from prison for a lack of evidence.

Four weeks after the murder, Amanda and her lawyer appeared before a judge ostensibly to ask for release from prison. But the big news that day was Amanda's startling confession before the court about Lumumba. She'd made it all up, she said. He hadn't been in the house the night Meredith was murdered. She apologized for her false accusation.

Lumumba (through translator): I don't hate Amanda. I just want justice.

Lumumba talked to us after his release.

Dennis Murphy: Why did she do this to you? Lumumba: (Translated) I think Amanda wanted to derail the investigation. That's what I think. She must have realized that the investigation was leading to her and must have thought that if she mentioned me -- because I’m black -- then the investigator's attention would shift to me. It's classic.

Lumumba says he saw Meredith only four times, the last, briefly, at the disco when she was dressed as a vampire. He told her to come see him on Friday and they'd talk about her running the bar once a week, making her special mojitos while a female DJ spun tunes.

Is it possible that Amanda -- on thin ice with her boss -- was jealous that Meredith, who she thought more popular and more polished, was going to get a kind of star turn in her bar?

Lumumba thinks maybe. He believes Amanda suffers from a Queen Bee syndrome.

Lumumba: (Translated) I can tell you she wants to be the center of attention. I think she's a person capable of doing anything to be in the spotlight.

Lumumba is free to resume his life though authorities say he still has the status of "suspect."

Dennis Murphy: She was eager to wrongfully accuse her boss Lumumba of being the person in the room... Richard Owen: Correct. Dennis Murphy: And yet she hasn't said anything about Rudy? Owen: As far as I know, no. Which given that he is the third or, if you like, fourth suspect is rather odd.

Amanda has now retracted her story that she was in the house the night of the murder hearing her roommate's screams as she put her fingers in her ears.

She's back to story one, currently telling her family and lawyers that she was not in the house but at Raffaele's for the night and doesn't remember much of anything but flashes of visions as though in a dream.

And so it is with the fragments of the case to date -- mismatched puzzle pieces and accounts from the suspects themselves -- that are all over the map.

We'd asked the principal Italian investigators on the murder case to show us what they had and they'd agreed. Some information they hadn't released before.

For those briefings we need to bring in the expert eye of our colleague back home who understands both forensic and psychological evidence.

If ever there was a case for former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt, it's this one and he's en route to Perugia to try and make some sense of it.

Clint Van Zandt had flown over from Washington to help untangle the snarl of conflicting stories and interpret the crime scene evidence for us.

Clint, who spent 25 years with the FBI as a onetime supervisor in the Behavioral Science Unit, known as the Profilers, is an analyst for NBC News.

Clint Van Zandt: It had to be a horrific crime scene and a terrible way to die.

Chief investigators in Italy's national crime lab gave Dateline extraordinary access to the Meredith Kercher murder file.

Chillingly, the CSI director told NBC how he believes Meredith died. It’s a detail not reported until now. He demonstrated with his letter opener how the student was stabbed through the throat...

Dennis Murphy: All the way through the neck? Directoire: Si.

A large blade knife made a through wound, left to right, coming out the other side.

And authorities believe a knife like a common kitchen knife taken from Raffaele, the boyfriend's apartment, may be the murder weapon.

Even though it had been scrubbed with bleach, analysts found traces of Meredith's DNA on the knife tip, and traces of Amanda's DNA near the handle.

What really pulled it together for Clint was a chance to study an array of the crime scene photos.

Clint Van Zandt: The blood that's on her hand would suggest that she had gone up to her throat. She had grabbed her throat realizing the knife had been a through and through wound. She's bleeding profusely. She's grabbed her throat, her hands are full of blood and she's reaching back trying to catch herself trying to hold herself up...

Clint thought the DNA on her body and the location of blood spray from the wound supported the investigative theory that Meredith was being sexually attacked from behind, bent over or perhaps being forced to her knees.

With the forensic briefing under our belt, early the next morning we went over to the little house where someone had plunged a knife into Meredith's neck after first threatening her with it.

Clint Van Zandt: This is someone who took a knife and first of all, they'd put it up under the victim's, like this. It's like pointing up, like this. Dennis Murphy: “I’m talking to you, this is serious.” Huh? Clint Van Zandt: This is to get the victim's attention and say, "You are going to comply with me and this is how serious I am." But then sometime after that, probably very quickly, there is the other, the killing wound. Dennis Murphy: That's a forceful push, huh? Clint Van Zandt: This was, "I’m angry. I'm forceful. I'm going to kill you." Dennis Murphy: Do you see anything consistent with any sex game fantasy play you've ever encountered here? Clint Van Zandt: This is no game. This is someone who was horribly violated and went through a terrible murder, because she didn't just die of the stab wound, she died because the blood was in her throat and she drowned in her own blood.

He would have had to climb over that railing.

When he surveyed the house Clint thought it highly unlikely that there'd been an intruder -- as Rudy claimed -- who'd broken a window to gain access to the house. The broken window is 15 feet over a steep slope, not a plausible way in. The authorities believe the so-called break-in was staged, suspicious from first glance.

Here's some of what we learned about the forensic case building against the three suspects.

Rudy, as we've said, left a bloody handprint on a pillowcase beneath the victim. His DNA is in the victim, on her bra and in the house.

Raffaele, the boyfriend, owns a pair of Nike sneakers the exact size and with an identical tread mark as one that left a bloody shoeprint on the bedroom floor beneath the victim. Analysts cannot say yet if it is an exact match.

A drop of Amanda's blood was found on the tap in the bathroom. Analysts are confident that that fresh drop places her in the house the night Meredith was murdered.

Dennis Murphy: Clint, the forensic team thought it was valuable that they detected a drop and not much more, of Amanda’s blood on the faucet of Amanda’s sink in her own house. I’m not sure I connect the dots on that. It's her house. Clint Van Zandt: The significance was going to be she alleged that she had spent the night at her boyfriend's house. And if you think about a drop of blood is normally going to dry from the outside in. Dennis Murphy: So blood from two days ago would look different than-- Clint Van Zandt: Entirely different. That refutes Amanda’s story that she wasn't there that night. Dennis Murphy: They seem to think it was a pretty good piece of evidence. Clint Van Zandt: They do. They think that's a very good piece of evidence. We have fingerprints. We have footprints. We have basically fresh blood. We have DNA evidence, all of that places two and probably three people in the apartment, in the murder room with the victim at the time it happened. This is someone who was a victim from the get go and all the way through.

And Clint thinks Amanda, with the forensic evidence, her shifting stories -- yes I was there, no I wasn't -- coupled with her false accusation of Lumumba has put her in a perilous situation.

She came to study Italian and ended-up here in prison. Amanda Knox shares a cell with three other women.

Richard Owen: A white-washed room with a wall-mounted TV. She does exercises by hanging from the bars of the window which reminded her of rock climbing that she sued to enjoy back in the states. Murphy: Reportedly singing at the top of her lungs in the exercise yard. Owen: Singing at the top of her lungs and writing, writing, writing feverishly.

Authorities seized Amanda's prison diary and it seems she now has yet another theory of the murder: that her then-boyfriend, Raffaele, snuck off to the house while she dozed, killed Meredith and then returned, placing the murder weapon in her sleeping hand in order to plant her DNA on the knife handle. Amanda is saying she was framed, or then again, maybe she just dreamt that.

Richard Owen: I don't think she quite realizes the gravity of the accusation against her. She said herself she finds it difficult to distinguish between reality and dream. And maybe in some part of her, she's still living in this dream world. Murphy: And she is at the center of everything. It is her little house. It's her murdered roommate. Owen: Yes. Murphy: Her Italian boyfriend. Her former boss. Owen: Yes. Murphy: Rudy, we don't know quite how he fits in. Owen: No. Murphy: But there's an 'Amanda-ness' at the center of all of this in some way, isn't there? Owen: I think, inevitably, it has come to be seen, as no doubt will be seen in future when books and films are made about this story as they inevitably will be, as Amanda’s story essentially.

Like the other two suspects, Raffaele and Rudy, authorities can detain Amanda for up to a year without charging her.

Italy doesn't have a death penalty but conviction on a homicide charge carries a sentence of not less than 21-years.

Clint Van Zandt: These are good cops. They're linking together all of the technology, cell phone, internet, crime scene forensic evidence. I think when this is all over and done with we will find out what happened to Meredith that terrible night. Clint Van Zandt: I think Amanda has got an uphill battle. She's painted herself back into a corner that she's going to have a hard time getting' out of. The only thing that's going to get her out of it is the truth. But this is someone, because of physical evidence and because of the statements of others, may very well take a hard fall for this homicide. Clint Van Zandt: Realize that this is a young woman wearing two masks. One mask is Amanda, the good girl, grew up in a Catholic school, an athlete, does what her mother says. And then you've got this other mask that when she gets here it's: “I’m going wild, I’m having fun. This is where I sow my wild oats.” Now which is the true Amanda? Probably both.

But Amanda's close friends out in Seattle aren't buying the girl gone wild character analysis.

Madison Paxton regards Amanda as a best friend and it's simply not the person she knows.

Madison Paxton: It's unfathomable to think that in a couple of months in Italy this person, this character that she was developing for 20 years would suddenly be completely flipped.

“Foxy Knoxy”? Just so much juicy copy for salacious news stories.

Madison: It's much more interesting if a beautiful girl from America was somehow involved in this and had a complete personality change in a couple of months and became insane and a sex addict and a drug addict...

But if and when charges are brought a three judge panel will render a verdict based on hard forensic evidence and not blogs and YouTube postings.

Dennis Murphy: Are you ever going to be able to put that knife in somebody's hands? One of these three. Clint Van Zandt: I think what the police are going to wind up doing is get one person to talk, one person, well, this going to be a “come-to-Jesus, let's make a deal” time. And tell us exactly what happened and what everyone's role was? I think we'll see that time come.

Meredith Kercher was buried in England on Dec. 14. She was just 21 years old, two months into the most exciting year of her life.