Can property have bad karma?
In 2007, when British Erasmus student Meredith Kercher was brutally murdered in the back bedroom of the little house she shared with Seattle native Amanda Knox and two Italian women, pictures of the stucco structure were broadcast across the world. Now the house is on the market for $500,000. But the real estate agent tells The Daily Beast that the owners won’t sell it to just anyone.
The house, which was divided into two apartments, is a unique structure in Perugia. Unlike other student digs, the house on Via della Pergola is a free-standing dwelling that was converted from an old farm building tucked on a little piece of land along a busy road that winds around the hilltop town. At the time Kercher was killed, she shared the upper apartment, which had a terrace overlooking a lush valley, with Knox and two Italian legal students. The lower apartment was rented by four Italian students, including one young man who was romantically linked to Kercher. Prior to Kercher’s death, the house was rented to a number of groups of students and young professionals in Perugia without incident.
The villa owner, Adalia Tattanelli Marrone, was a civil plaintiff in the Kercher murder case, claiming lost rent of about $51,000 for the time the house was sequestered as part of the crime scene. Now Rudy Guede, who stands as the only person definitively convicted of Kercher’s murder, is solely responsible for the restitution. Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were first convicted and then acquitted of Kercher’s murder. Their acquittal was overthrown by Italy’s high court in 2013 and a new appeal trial is under way in Florence, with a verdict expected January 15 or 20. The new appellate decision will have to clear Italy’s high court before the two are definitively convicted or acquitted. If they are definitively convicted, they also will share in the responsibility of restitution, whether the house is sold or not.
The property, which has 10 rooms and is still divided into two separate apartments, earned just over $2,800 a month from the students who lived there. In 2009, the owner took back possession of the house and completely refurbished the structure, adding metal grates to the windows and moving walls, essentially removing the room where Kercher was murdered by rearranging that part of the house. The house then was rented to a series of tenants. For a time a group of Bangladeshi street vendors rented the property. The most recent tenants were families from Morocco who left the property after suffering mild carbon monoxide poisoning in November.
Vincenzo Russo, the estate agent in charge of the sale, told The Daily Beast that he does not expect the property to sell quickly. He said the online listing has received thousands of hits since it was listed just before Christmas but that the house has been shown to just a couple of prospective buyers. The agents will not show the property to anyone, he said, unless they can prove they have the financial means to purchase the property, which he hopes will deter curiosity seekers.
“It is obviously a property with a difficult history,” Russo said. “Those types of houses are never easy to sell.”
The owner is not ruling out selling the property for commercial use, Russo said, either as a bed and breakfast or even to a business to use as office space. The ad listing the property boasts enough parking space for seven cars. There are also reports that the University for Foreigners is eyeing the property to house administrative services.
If the property is not sold, it will eventually be destroyed with an eye to selling the land for development.