It’s been more than six years since Rudy Guede murdered Meredith Kercher in the apartment that she shared with Seattle native, Amanda Knox and two Italian women in Perugia, Italy. Several years of watching the despicable tabloid event that befell Amanda, her then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, and their families. Half a decade of watching Meredith Kercher’s family wonder what really happened to their daughter and sister. None had any idea the day Meredith was found dead that the Perugian judiciary, aided by the police force and the tabloids, would spark a media firestorm that would engulf them in its gluttonous self-indulgence.
All those years ago no one in Seattle had any idea that irresponsible officials from our Sister City would grievously harm one of our own.
Meredith, a university student from London, England, was murdered in her bedroom in during a 2007 burglary and was portrayed as a saint while Amanda, a student from Seattle, USA, was portrayed as a slut. Raffaele, a student from Giovinazzo, Italy, played the part of mindless drone, the Purse Dog of a Sexy Satanist. Patrick Lumumba, a Congolese immigrant who owned a Perugian club and was also Amanda’s employer, was first labeled ‘murderer’ and then ‘victim of Amanda’s slanderous ways.’ Later Amanda would became the murderer, as well as the Mastermind, and when it was proved that her DNA was not at the murder scene, she was literally sent into “another room,” by star prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, to “direct” the men.
The actual murderer, Rudy Guede, a Perugian thief who immigrated from the Ivory Coast, was cast as a hapless bystander and willing slave of Amanda. His story changed several times in the first six months after the murder, first saying that Amanda and Raffaele were not involved (from a Skype call when he was on the run in Germany) to eventually falling in line with the prosecution’s theory (after extradition to Italy).
The Writing is On the Wall: Guede was coerced into changing his story, most likely through the same fear and intimidation that Amanda, Raffaele and Patrick experienced. He was found guilty of murder during his fast-track trial in 2008 and his 30-year sentence was halved to 16 years in 2010. He will serve perhaps 10 years for murdering a promising young woman and be free to once again roam the streets, apparently before 2020, with good behavior. So far, the Perugians and their online supporters say Guede has been a Model Prisoner, yet another example of the effort to diminish his role in the slaying.
Odd, don’t you think, that the prosecution team is working for both the murderer and the murdered?
Amanda and Raffaele were found guilty murder in 2009, during a trial that defied all reason, and freed on appeal in 2011 because of a complete lack of evidence. Their supporters suspect duplicity on the part of the Perugians. The young adults spent four years in prison for a crime they did not commit and are still victims of hate-filled diatribe by people who believe that Rudy Guede is a hapless bystander and who also think that the amateurish murder investigation yielded correct results. These opposing points of view fuel a contentious online debate to this day.
On November 2, 2007, traumatized by Meredith’s brutal murder, none of the families foresaw the groundwork for a Smear Campaign being laid down by the Perugians. And the Perugians did not foresee, much to their chagrin, that the slanderous lies they told would reach a global audience. They did not expect to placed under the proverbial magnifying glass, which is perhaps the most upsetting aspect of this sad event, the Perugians expected to smear the reputations of two innocent university students, falsely imprison them and get away with it.
They did not count on the determination, perseverance and intelligence of Amanda and Raffaele’s families.
By definition a Smear Campaign is “an intentional, premeditated effort to undermine an individual’s or group’s reputation, credibility and character, especially by vilification and innuendo.” The attacks are emotional in nature using distortion, half-truths and outright lies to coerce the public into believing that the victim is suspicious and unworthy of their respect. Smears are generally used to divert attention away from a guilty subject and onto a person or group so that the victims invest time in defending themselves and the public not focusing on the real perpetrator. This verbal Sleight of Hand can have many victims because even when a Smear lacks evidence and is disingenuous, the tactic will tarnish reputations before the truth is known. A ruined reputation is not only extremely difficult to surmount for the victim(s), but their associates will also suffer defamation.
An Original Smear is also subject to the Game of Telephone where new incarnations (myths) are created using elements of the lie(s). This case is a perfect example of myths that were generated for the primary purpose to demean and marginalize Amanda and Raffaele. Using the Internet, they self-perpetuate and spawn more myths.
If ever there was an example of Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “A Lie gets halfway around the world before the Truth has a chance to get its pants on,” this case is it.
The Kercher family, Amanda, Raffaele and many more suffer today because of this global Smear Campaign. Sensational lies and half-truths were used to deflect attention away from the terrible mistake the Perugians had made in allowing Rudy Guede to roam the streets thereby becoming Meredith’s killer when he robbed her home. From the mistakes they made by labeling innocent students as cold-blooded, depraved killers and then treating them as such with no proof. From mistakes made when they arrested Amanda’s employer, Patrick Lumumba, although he had an airtight alibi.
And mistakes made by trusting intuition instead of evidence. Within two days of parading Amanda, Raffaele and Patrick through the streets of Perugia, with sirens blaring, evidence came back indicating that Rudy Guede had been in Meredith’s bedroom, a person who had not even been considered. Forensics would also show that only Guede’s DNA was all over Merdith’s body and the murder scene, not Amanda’s or Raffaele’s or Patrick’s. And, most importantly, public records would show that the Perugians had interceded for Guede, when he was detained in Milan for a burglary, six days before the murder.
What to do? Well they released Patrick from prison after two weeks and switched him for Guede, once he was extradited from Germany. Then Patrick promptly sued Amanda for slander even though he should have sued the police because it was they who suggested to Amanda that Patrick had killed Meredith.
Inexplicably, with the real killer in custody, the Perugians kept Amanda and Raffaele behind bars, preferring to stay with the Sex-Game-Gone-Wrong theory apparently to save face and careers. The Perugians began a massive effort to present the kids, especially Amanda, as ruthless and evil. The number of times the Perugians needed to tweak their story, in order to keep the two innocent students in prison, is hard proof of their determination to avoid responsibility for their mistakes.
Back in November 2007, during the first few days of the investigation, the opening act in the saga took place when the Perugian Public Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, Chief of Homicide Monica Napoleoni and Roman Special Investigator Edgardo Giobbi, joined forces to create personae for the naïve university students, Amanda and Raffaele. Mignini was especially adept at Smear Campaigns, having used the ruse in several cases prior to Meredith’s, he usually linked Satanism to the Freemasons and the Sacred Number Three that appears in Masonic tenets. So it appears that Mignini may have decided that he needed “three killers” to fall in line with his satanic theories. He had been trying to prove that Satanism was alive and well in Umbria for several years prior to Meredith’s death and tacked it on because she was killed the day after Halloween. He even alluded that the killers had waited until November 1st because of a dinner party at the villa.
I wonder if Mignini has yet noticed that the Perugians, the Tabloids and the Trolls also form a triad, an unholy alliance at that.
The Perugians then leaked juicy tid bits to the local and foreign tabloid press just after arresting the students and Patrick for the murder. “Breaking News” generally stays firmly in the public’s perception and is the main reason that media outlets battle to be first with a story; the sad fact here is that truth is often the loser. Add to that the behavior of the judiciary officials, law enforcement and their underlings, Good Ol’ Boys all scratching each other’s backs. Corrupt officials are certainly nothing new but Perugian story line was. One does not often see Satanism take center stage on a global scale. In Perugia, however, Satanism and sex is often on Prosecutor Mignini’s menu, one barely has to scratch the surface of his public record to find it. And he cloaks his fascination with evil and sex in the robes of a devout Catholic “doing God’s Work.”
I sincerely doubt that God wants innocent people put in prison to fulfill Mignini’s dark desires.
The truth is that there is absolutely no evidence tying Amanda or Raffaele to the crime once you understand that the miniscule bits of DNA, presented as evidence (Knife and Bra Clasp) by the prosecution, were contaminated (maybe even planted) and would never be accepted by an honest court.
The Knife had bread starch, not blood, on it and was never bleached, as reported by the prosecution. The sample of what was assumed to be Meredith’s DNA was so miniscule that a mandatory second test could not be performed, breaking international testing standards. Nor could an accurate reading be made, the lab was not certified to perform Low Copy Number testing, another breach of international standards, and ignored the repeated “too low” warnings from the equipment telling the operator that there was not enough DNA. Plus the test to prove the equipment was not contaminated between runs was never done.
When it was realized, in court during the appeal, that the knife had been wiped off (not washed, not bleached) after cutting Rye Bread, the entire court laughed and the reporters fell all over themselves to get the story out first.
The Bra Clasp was collected from an unsecured crime scene 46 days after the murder; it was dirty from being walked on and kicked around. It was found under a rug, feet away from where it was originally photographed, but not collected, on Day 1 of the investigation. Again the miniscule amount of DNA was not conclusively proved to be from Raffaele, only that the Haplogroup matched thousands of Italian males, including him. Several other samples also present were not identified; evidentially the Perugians focused all their energy on Raffaele. And, apparently, there is a high possibility that the mystery samples may have been any or many of the Perugian police investigators. How embarrassing would that be in court to have shown the DNA of their own officers on an important piece of evidence?
That either item ever made it into court as evidence should be a huge red flag for any member of the public trying to decide on innocence or guilt. The public did not know, for example, that the Perugian courts are notoriously dishonest and have many instances in the public record to prove the point. Surely the public would have thought twice about accepting the tiny samples of DNA had they known.
The opinion of many professionals who reviewed this case is that this travesty would not have occurred in Rome, Florence or Milan, or any honest court anywhere in the world for that matter. The Kercher’s should never have suffered losing Meredith much less be forced to watch the debacle that played out in court. Despite the apparent evidence and witness tampering by the Perugian prosecution team, science proved that Guede is the killer of their daughter. But the Kerchers have been told repeatedly that there was more than one killer, again diluting Guede’s blame, and continue to search for the villains although evidence does not support the “multiple attacker” theory. It cannot be stressed enough that public records in Milan also prove that the Perugians pandered to Guede six days before he killed Meredith. He was released from a crime scene on their recognizance, although he had a knife and stolen property on his person, and sent home to obviously continue his burglarizing. Imagine if that tid bit had made it to court?
It is clearly evident that Rome needs to take a careful look at the Perugian system, which regularly ensnares innocent people. Amanda, Raffaele and Patrick are number 21 through 23 on a list of people falsely accused by the Perugian Public Minister’s office in the past two decades. That list includes many local citizens and another American, author Douglas Preston, who was banned from Italy by Mignini because he wrote a book. An Italian Public Minister is quite powerful, a position that would be downright scary with the wrong person at the helm and that seems to be what is going on in the Perugian courts. Hopefully once the Supreme Court finally rules on the original case, they will have time to clean house in Perugia.
The English-speaking audience didn’t know in November 2007 that Mignini was notorious for arresting innocent people and trying to pin Satanism on them. The Americans didn’t know that story we heard was not from mainstream media, properly researched, we found out much later that tabloids were the source. The story we thought was fact actually flowed first from the Perugian prosecutors and then was sensationalized in the conference rooms of the British tabloids Daily Mail, Mirror, Sun and others.
I personally witnessed, to my disgust, tabloid fantasies from the British printed verbatim onto the AP Wire and then to the Seattle Times and other US media organizations. It’s shocking when one considers the implications regarding what we think we know about any subject because Copy and Paste, the delight of keyboarders, is the downfall of today’s journalism. In 2007 and beyond we had no idea that what we were reading was a depraved fantasy created by a dirty old man.
One thing is sure, Amanda and Raffaele never sought celebrity, it was forced on them; mainly by the British tabloids.
The reputation of the British tabloid press precedes itself due to in part to the wire-tapping scandal, its thought in some circles that the Kercher’s themselves may be victims, but time will tell. It’s primarily from the British tabloids that the English-speaking world learned about the death of a pretty and talented Briton and her American roommate’s alleged involvement in her murder. And it is the British tabloids that were the last to leave Amanda and Raffaele in peace after they returned home. It’s patently obvious who has been buying the majority of the photos from paparazzi, the Daily Mail.
The antics of the Daily Mail and its brethren are something the British have always known, but was not widely understood by the Americans, until recently. Thinking the reports in the US were by done the mainstream media was the primary reason that Amanda’s own countrymen kicked her to the curb early on, many are now deeply apologetic. The truth finally has a foothold in the US mainstream press thanks to NBC and its affiliates who were the first to realize that the evidence against Amanda and Raffaele did not add up. Other news organizations quickly followed suit, but some media outlets cling to the Italian version of events, apparently out of misplaced loyalty to the Kerchers.
Or, perhaps, the prejudice is due to fallout of the US foreign policy. Which has absolutely nothing to do with Meredith’s brutal death, by the way, or the absurd investigation into to it or the subsequent mockery of the justice system. The only connection is the nationalities of all involved, but strip that away and this was a botched police investigation and cover-up. Happens everyday, everywhere.
The tabloids quickly picked up and broadcast the Perugian’s story before any mainstream news source could research the claims and it became an international game of one-upmanship. We all know the goal of any tabloid is to titillate and woman-on-woman murder sprinkled with a pound of sex was too good to be true. When one looks at the sheer number of articles generated, it’s easy to see that nearly every tabloid in the world was vying for a piece of this pie. The editors must have worked overtime trying to out do each other’s headlines as they covered the gamut of disgusting to laughable; all of it cruel and insulting.
The Kercher family has repeatedly implored the world to Remember Meredith but ironically it was their own countrymen who forgot her in the Foxy Knoxy feeding frenzy of their own making. Her father, John, is a freelance journalist with ties to several of the British tabloids and it was those papers that perpetuated the Foxy Knoxy Myth, apparently to show their loyalty, the Daily Mail leading the way. British reporter, Nick Pisa, was the first to use Amanda’s childhood nickname within a day of plundering her MySpace page for information and the Crowd Went Wild, as they say. “Foxy Knoxy” was bestowed upon Amanda by young teammates for her fast moves and quick thinking on the soccer pitch. “Foxy” is a beloved compliment in the Greater Seattle Area and elsewhere, what was done to this innocent name simply to make money is shameful.
The Perugians and the Tabloids buried the real people in a haboob of paper trying to convince the public that they were the “experts who really knew” Amanda and Raffaele. In a sense they were the experts regarding the Faux Meredith, Faux Amanda and Faux Raffaele, because the families and friends of the real people have No Idea who the Perugians are talking about.
The Perugians and Tabloids were trying to create the sensational story of an innocent virgin that valiantly tried to fight off a sexy, jealous knife-wielding woman and two slavering, lustful knife-wielding men. During the fight she is tragically killed and the villains try to lie their way out of the predicament only to be caught by the intrepid Perugians using their “intuition.”
Hey it sold papers. The real tragedy is that they abused three (counting Meredith) sweet, kind and smart young students and their families to forward their agendas. The leaks to the press in November 2007 were specifically designed to taint public opinion and ruin the reputation of Amanda and Raffaele, to this day the story is a confused mix of factoids and facts not clearly understood by most people, just what the Perugians wanted. But if the public were to take a closer look, the deceit and deviltry would shock them. If the Perugians and the media wanted to find devils to exploit they should have looked in a mirror.
The public began blogging about the crime within a week and by the first anniversary, they had split into strongly opinionated Innocence and Guilt camps. In 2007 most people thought that the Perugians were correct in their assumptions, but Amanda and Raffaele’s family and friends never wavered about their innocence. As time went on the public began to realize the student’s families were right and began to point out that the Perugians were never able to prove a motive using, Amanda and Raffaele, and evidently tainted the evidence. Community discussions became an endless circle with neither side giving an inch.
Each side was also calling the other “Trolls,” the Internet equivalent of a spiteful bully.
On one side are the Guilters (who believe in guilt of the students). Some belong to one or both of the Hate Group websites devoted to trash-talking Amanda and Raffaele, the rest roam the Internet commenting and spreading the Smear Campaign factoids. The members think the students got away with murder or that the appeal court is corrupt or the kids are racist whites or from influential families or good-looking or Amanda is an American or Raffaele is connected to the Mafia or they are rich or a PR firm influenced the halls of justice in Rome and Washington DC or choose your own outrageous fantasy or all of the above. So they argue the “facts” from their point of view, perfectly in line with the Perugians, in forums and invade every article ever written in favor of innocence to slander and insult the writer and commenters.
They are literally chasing people away with their rude behavior so that the real facts are subverted.
On the other side are the Supporters (who believe in the innocence of the students). Professionals and laymen alike who believe that terrible mistakes were made during the police investigation and also of duplicity in the courtroom to cover up said mistakes. There are also two websites devoted to proving that the Perugians are inept or corrupt or that they hate Americans or used the students to distract from the legal woes of the Public Minister or all of the above. The commenters from this group can be equally contentious when countering the claims of the hate groups in the blogs and forums, the difference is that innuendo is not used to back up claims, science, law and credible sources are. A number of the supporters regularly write articles for both mainstream and citizen journalist sites to counter the claims of the Smear Campaign that influenced the public just after the students were arrested.
The Trolls are the bullies on both sides, but it’s readily apparent that the Guilters hold the record for sheer numbers of Trolls in their membership. Their ilk is responsible for perpetration or creation of the many Myths that sprang up about this case as they dutifully repeated as fact what the Perugians and the British tabloids were reporting. These keyboard wielding terrorists are the same anonymous online bullies that we often hear about in both the mainstream and tabloid press, only in this case they are working hand-in-hand with the tabloids instead of being vilified by them. A very strange occurrence and one that seems to stem from the fact that Meredith’s father is personally involved with the British tabloids. The main theme is to support the Kerchers at all costs and that includes vilifying innocent people using the Kercher legal team’s skewed point of view. The emotional reaction from the public is at once admirable and horrible, admirable that they seek to support a grieving family and horrible that their repetition of the lies is harming innocent people.
Both factions tend to accuse the other of exactly the same things, myopia or prejudice or racism or stupidity or callousness. One encapsulates the Kerchers in a bubble of protective sympathy where they can do no wrong and the other exposes their attempts to sway public opinion at the apparent behest of their lawyers. Both extremes are harmful to this beleaguered family. It’s not fair for either side to dictate to the other what they think the Kercher’s did or should be doing.
It’s just my humble opinion, but the Kercher’s have the Devil sitting at their table and I think the public should consider that before passing judgement on them. They trusted their legal team to bring justice to their daughter and it’s really not their fault that the legal team is apparently corrupt, how could they possibly have known that during the awful days that followed Meredith’s death? And now, five years later, they are hip deep and seem to be staying the course. I do hope, however, that one day they will know that Amanda and Raffaele are completely innocent, even if they continue to believe that there are “multiple killers,” and that their legal team made grievous mistakes regarding Meredith’s innocent friends. However they come to that conclusion is completely up to them, but I would hope that they listen to the defense team arguments at some point.
Universities and researchers in the US and Europe are already beginning to study the mechanics of the Smear Campaign surrounding Meredith Kercher’s death. They are fascinated by the brash and coordinated efforts of the trolls to intimidate anyone who comes to their attention. It appears the moderators of the websites also have connections to an associate of the Kercher family and someone in Perugia, traffic to their websites shows intimate knowledge. Both are both a lesson in online stalking and hate. Researchers are equally fascinated by the innocence supporters who are a loose association of volunteers that stepped forward determined that the public should also have the Defense point of view, as is their right, before they decided who was guilty of murdering Meredith Kercher.
Each group slinging verbal arrows and countering claims to this day are mirror images of good and evil.
Ironically, both want justice for Meredith and both are well versed on case specifics, but their stance depends wholly on whether or not they subscribe to the Defense or the Prosecution Point of View. The Defense proved, once in an honest courtroom, that forensics alone could exonerate Amanda and Raffaele, but repairing their reputations will only come when the public realizes that:
1) The Prosecution team cannot be trusted for accurate information.
2) The Tabloids told the story to the English speaking world using distorted information.
3) The Trolls just like to trash-talk anyone and anything, it’s a game to them.
4) Amanda and Raffaele really are innocent victims of a Smear Campaign perpetuated by All Of The Above.
Everything their families and friends tell about them is the real truth, not what was spoon fed to the tabloids and then disseminated to the public. The public needs to listen to the people who know Amanda and Raffaele best, just like they listened to the Kerchers when they told us how wonderful Meredith was. The stark reality is simply that these people truly know their loved ones better than anyone, especially strangers who would use them to cover up mistakes or make money.
The Truth has its pants on now and it’s telling the public what really happened in Perugia.