Real victim forgotten in Amanda Knox furor, says Meredith Kercher's dad

(CBS News) Seattle college student Amanda Knox became a well-known name after spending more than four years fighting charges of killing her roommate in Italy.

But many people probably don't remember the name of the victim in that case, Meredith Kercher.

John Kercher, her father, believes the drama over Knox's conviction, then acquittal, overshadowed the loss of his daughter. And now, he's telling her story.

Kercher was just 21 years old when her body was discovered in the house she shared with Knox in Perugia, Italy. In an excerpt from his new book "Meredith," published in London's Daily Mail newspaper, her father complains that the world has focused far too much on Knox

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He writes, "Meredith...was a beautiful, intelligent and caring girl whom everyone loved, and her story deserves to be told."

Kercher, who didn't attend the retrial of Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, wrote the book on his own. Kercher was divorced from Meredith Kercher's mother more than 10 years ago.

"It's all been about Knox - not justice for my daughter," Kercher writes.

Knox and Sollecito were found not guilty of Meredith Kercher's murder last October in a verdict watched around the world. The next day, the Kercher family reacted to the decision, saying to the press, "We do find that we are now left obviously looking at this again and thinking how a decision that was so certain two years ago has now been so emphatically overturned now."

Kercher writes, "We knew Meredith had not got on with Knox." After Knox was arrested, Kercher writes, "The alibis of Knox and Sollecito kept changing."

There have been books written about Knox and there was a TV movie. And next year, Knox will release her own account of her ordeal, a book dealreportedly worth nearly $4 million.

Kercher's book includes his desperate attempts to reach his daughter, once news spread in the British media that, "a female British student has been found murdered in Perugia. ...I call Meredith...the phone rings on and on, and still there is no answer."

Eventually, a reporter calls John Kercher. He writes, "I shall never forget her words. The name going around Italy, she says, 'is Meredith.'"

"48 Hours Mystery" correspondent Peter Van Sant said Monday on "CBS This Morning," that Kercher was very close to his daughter. "It's a classic, every parent's nightmare," Van Sant said.

When asked about Kercher's assertion that his daughter didn't get along with Knox and the Knox family's statements that they did, Van Sant said the truth is somewhere in between.

He said, "The two had gone to a chocolate festival in the brief weeks they had known each other. Just two days before she was murdered, Meredith and Amanda were out for a night on the town. They were friends. They had roommate issues from time to time, but there was nothing malicious there."

The two were roommates for just a few weeks before Kercher was killed.

The Kercher family, Van Sant said, hopes the investigation will continue.

"The (Kercher) family has been remarkably classy in all of this," Van Sant said. "The day after (Knox and Sollecito's) acquittal, the rest of the family held a news conference (after the) second trial. John Kercher was not at at thesecond trial. They were baffled by all of this but they did not say there's an injustice here or that someone got away with murder. They truly believe someone else must have been involved in the murder of their daughter and they want the investigation to continue."

Kercher, Van Sant reiterated, wrote the book on his own. "He gets along fine (with his family)," Van Sant said. "He has a relationship with his ex-wife that's typical in a divorce, but he loves his children, they love him. This book, though, is not written with the rest of the family. This is John Kercher's own personal journey. And there are things within this book where he's still suggesting justice hasn't been done. And I think peace could come to this family if they were to realize Rudy is the one killer."

Van Sant was referring to Ivory Coast-born drifter Rudy Guede who was convicted of sexually assaulting and stabbing Kercher. His 16-year sentence, reduced in appeal from an initial 30 years, was upheld by Italy's highest court in 2010.

  • Peter Van Sant

    Correspondent, "48 Hours"

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