ROME—November will mark 10 years since British Erasmus student Meredith Kercher’s bruised and bloodied body was found in the Perugia apartment she shared with her American roommate Amanda Knox. The murder put the hilltop Umbrian town previously known primarily for its chocolate festival on a macabre murder map that scarred the city in immeasurable ways.
A decade later, Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who were both twice convicted and twice acquitted of Kercher’s murder, have carved out new lives, and Perugia has moved on. There are students at the local university for foreigners who have never even heard of Knox or Kercher or the horrific saga.
But anniversaries often bring out feelings of nostalgia and, as it happens, Knox says she would like to return to Perugia to mark the end of the decade since the crime she has long denied being part of.
In an exclusive interview with People Magazine, Knox explains that going back to Perugia is a necessary step in her healing. “The only way that I’m going to come full circle is by physically, literally, coming full circle,” she told the magazine. “I know that Perugia is probably the least welcome place for me in the entire world. And that’s scary, but it also means a lot to me, not to be afraid of a place and see Perugia through my family’s eyes.”
In fact, Knox only lived freely in the city of Perugia for a few months before her arrest. Her only real point of reference is the apartment on Via Della Pergola where Kercher was killed, which has been completely renovated to remove any semblance of the previous layout. It was sold in 2015 and has since become a selfie stop for those who followed the crime closely, including Sollecito who was photographed by local media when he brought a new girlfriend there in 2014, the year before he and Knox were acquitted definitively by Italy’s highest court.
The rest of the time Knox spent in Perugia was in a prison outside of the city. Her family, instead, became permanent members of a community that never blamed them personally no matter what they might have thought of their daughter.
“They kept to themselves, they were humble,” Father Saulo Scarabattoli, the prison priest who Knox confided in during her imprisonment, told The Daily Beast. “The community accepted them and would welcome them back. They would be like old friends.”
Scarabattoli, who maintains sporadic contact with Knox, did not know she was planning to come back for a visit, nor, really did anyone else The Daily Beast reached who still maintained ties to the family. “It must be part of her healing process,” a long-time friend who helped manage logistics for the Knox family told The Daily Beast. “It kind of makes sense.”
Even Giuliano Mignini, the prosecutor in the case, isn’t surprised that Knox might someday return, although he says he hopes it isn’t to commemorate the actual day of the murder. “That would send the wrong message,” he said. Kercher’s family lawyer Francesco Maresca agrees, calling any visit around the anniversary of the murder “inopportune at best.”
As divisive as the case was and still is in some circles, Knox does have every right to return freely to Perugia. Italy’s highest court has acquitted her of all charges relating to the actual murder itself. She still stands convicted of slandering her former boss Patrick Lumumba by originally accusing him of the crime, but her lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova, who was also unaware she might return, says she has no real legal worries here.
In 2016, the European Court of Human Rights agreed to hear her case regarding the interrogation that produced that accusation. Lumumba, who now lives in Poland with his wife, says she has not yet paid the financial damages he was awarded for her slander. But that issue should in no way impede her legally should she come back to Italy. She has already been back to Europe, posting on her Instagram account from Germany and France.
Knox’s version of events was depicted in a Netflix documentary bearing her name which is up for an Emmy, and she told People she is working on a new book called Lady Justice that she describes as “part memoir, part investigative journalism, looking at the greater forces that affected me as a woman going through the criminal justice system.”
She is also a vocal advocate for wrongfully convicted people, most recently coming to the defense of Michelle Carter, who was recently convicted for an alleged role in her boyfriend's suicide. She told People she hopes to launch a reality television series about the way people accused of crimes are depicted in the media.
Of course, the inevitable media circus surrounding her eventual return to Perugia—bids are already flying in by networks who want to cover the trip exclusively—will surely help those projects immensely.
It should come as no real surprise that someone whose adult life has played out inside a fishbowl under the media’s glare would choose essentially to invite the world along on her journey by announcing her return to the scene of the crime. Why should it be any other way?