A Long Way From Home

48 Hours Investigates The U.S. Student Jailed In Italy For Her Roommate's Murder

Asked what he believes-based on his investigation-happened after Meredith got home, Sfriso tells Van Sant, "That is the million-dollar question. Meredith arrives home. Maybe somebody was already inside the house waiting for her. Maybe somebody arrived after. There are signs of what appears to be a break-in."

Because Amanda and Meredith had been roommates, Amanda quickly became a key witness. "She said they had a lot of questions for her because she was the first one that had come back to the house. And she wanted to help," Edda says.

Four days after the murder, there were still no arrests. The students of Perugia organized a memorial service for Meredith. Noticeably absent were Amanda and Raffaele: they had been summoned to police headquarters.

"When the two them went down there they separated them into different interrogation rooms. And began a questioning process that lasted for a very long time over night," Amanda's father Curt says.

Police were questioning the two because they suspected they were hiding something.

After 14 hours of intense police interrogation, with no sleep, no food, and no lawyer, Amanda dramatically changed her story. "She says that she thinks she was here, that she hears Meredith scream," Sfriso says.

When she signed a statement, Amanda was no longer a witness - she was under arrest.

Four days after Meredith's murder, Amanda was paraded in front of the press on her way to jail. Police believe Amanda took part in the murder of her roommate.
Raffaele was also arrested, and surprisingly Amanda's employer, Patrick Lumumba, was also picked up after she named him as Meredith's murderer.

The arrests came after Amanda dramatically changed her story. 48 Hours obtained Amanda's stunning statement. "I met Patrick at the basketball courts and we went to my apartment…Patrick had sex with Meredith…I confusedly remember that he killed her."

Amanda's statement came after that all-night, 14-hour interrogation.

Next, Italian police developed a theory: that Meredith was murdered after refusing to join Amanda, Raffaele and Patrick in kinky four-way sex.

Like the Italian police, journalist Nick Pisa began searching the Internet to learn about the suspects. "They had entries on Facebook…and we were getting an unimaginable amount of information about these people," he says.

Like most college students these days, Amanda and Raffaele shared their lives through the Web; Amanda boasted about alcohol use and casual sex.

"She even posted pictures of herself outside a dope shop in Amsterdam. We discovered how she'd been on a train and she'd admitted having sex with a guy she'd met on the train. We discovered that she'd written some very bizarre essays on her Web site which talked about rape," Pisa says.

"They jumped on that. They saw the word rape and they are like, 'Yeah, that's a great headline,'" says Madison, a friend of Amanda's from Seattle.

On Raffaele's pages, they learned he collected knives.

"His expression of admiration for a serial killer," Van Sant remarks.

"Exactly. And then we have him with the meat cleaver. Then, we have Amanda behind the machine gun as well," Pisa says, describing pictures of Raffaele posing with a cleaver and Amanda posing behind a machine gun. "It was all just grist for the mill. It was more information than you can ever imagine on a story."

And the "mill" was the Italian and British press corps that was all over the story.

Perhaps what damned Amanda most was the name she gave herself on her MySpace account: "Foxy Knoxy." Some of the headlines in the British press included "The Twisted World of Foxy Knoxy," "The Dark Angel of Seattle," "Orgy Of Death," and "Amanda Was A Drugged-Up Tart."

"You know, I have not read the British press just because I knew that was out there," Edda reacts, crying. "And that's not my daughter. And that's not, I mean in…they never met her."