Amid the media storm surrounding Amanda Knox, relatives of murder victim Meredith Kercher have poignantly noted how the woman they loved has often been “forgotten”.
Just hours before Knox’s conviction was overturned, Meredith’s sister Stephanie, 29, soberly addressed a press conference in Perugia urging everyone “to remember the brutality of what happened and everything Meredith went through, the fear and the terror and not knowing why.”
The London-born, Leeds university student was just 21 when she was murdered in her own bed. Those closest to her remember a bubbly girl who didn’t take herself too seriously. Back at the family home in Coulsdon, Surrey, Meredith was a model daughter, devoted to her parents – John, a freelance journalist and his Indian-born wife Arline. She grew up enjoying ballet, gymnastics and karate lessons. ‘Mez’, as she was known to friends, talked of a future career as a journalist. In Perugia, she quickly made a group of British girlfriends, joining them for movie nights and dinner parties.
During one of the last phone calls Meredith made on the day she died, she told her mother that despite feeling tired from a party the previous night she planned to go home and write an essay. The exact events surrounding her murder have never been established, but the Italian court heard that Meredith’s wounds suggest that it would have been an agonising and slow death.
The Kercher family was “pleased” with the original guilty verdicts for Amanda Knox, then 20, Rudy Guede, then 20 and Raffaele Sollecito, then 23. Amanda’s father Curt Knox revealed they had not contacted the Kerchers to express “our sorrow for the loss of their daughter.”
In stark contrast to the Knox family, the Kerchers have turned down most interview requests. The family has also faced financial struggles. John, 68, was forced to retire after suffering two strokes in the past year and was unable to join the rest of family at the final day of last week’s court hearing – the only day they could afford to attend. The Kercher family has said last week’s verdict has led them back to “square one”. Stephanie Kercher said, “Until the truth comes out, we can’t forgive anyone because no-one’s even admitted to it, knowing there was someone out there who was responsible.”
Back in Mitcham Road Crematorium, a temporary headstone marks Meredith’s grave. At her home, Stephanie still “borrows” her clothes or flips through the book Meredith was reading at the time she died. Her bedroom remains undisturbed, as if awaiting her return. Arline says, “It’s not a shrine but it’s a constant reminder. It’s as though she’s just gone out and will be back in a while. But she won’t.” Last week the family stated, “It may be a case of waiting another year [for the truth]. We have to leave it to the police and the courts.”
Picture credits: Rex Features