When we last saw Amanda Knox, she was bundled in a gray jacket against the crisp early winter air of the Italian hilltop city of Perugia, her crystal-blue eyes glancing anxiously toward a photographer's camera. The 20-year-old American exchange student with the Ivory-soap complexion was on her way to jail, charged in the murder of her British roommate, who was stabbed in the neck and bled to death in the flat they shared in the picturesque Umbrian capital.
Eight months later, with Perugia enveloped in a typically hot summer, Knox still sits in jail on the outskirts of the city. An Italian prosecutor this week requested the formal indictments of Knox, her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, and Ivory Coast citizen Rudy Hermann Guede for the murder of Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old Leeds University student. All three suspects have denied any involvement in the murder.
With no new images of Knox, media reports have focused in recent months on her travails inside Capanne jail. Corriere della Sera published excerpts last month of a leaked prison diary that the University of Washington student has reportedly been keeping. Knox remarks on her male admirers, laments life behind bars and sends off letters to her mother and the boyfriend she'd left behind in the U.S. Corriere also reported that she told police that she'd had sex with seven men since arriving in Italy earlier in 2007. Last week Knox was visited by her mother to celebrate her 21st birthday at the Italian jail.
Though we haven't seen her in the flesh since her arrest, it is in many ways Knox's flesh that continues to drive steady interest, particularly from the Italian and British media. An abundance of old photographs have circulated from blogs and social-network pages of the auburn-haired Seattle native in a variety of settings, almost always flashing a girl-next-door smile. That Knox appears sweet adds an extra dose of sympathy for those convinced of her pleas of innocence, while making others ever more furiously convinced that she's hiding a dark side.
Still, the sunny images and surrounding chatter should not obscure the gravity of the crime for which the three suspects are accused. Prosecutors say Kercher was sexually assaulted before being repeatedly stabbed and left to bleed to death in what may have been a two-hour-long, agonizing demise. The victim's parents have kept a dignified silence as they wait to see what the sometimes dysfunctional Italian justice system finds out about the case, in order to help them understand why the daughter they'd sent away for an enriching student experience abroad never made it home alive.
Last month, the Sunday Times of London featured a cover story for the newspaper's magazine section about the case that included an extensive interview with Knox's family in Seattle. Titled "Free Foxy Knoxy," the story recounted the family's insistence that Amanda could never have been involved in such a heinous act and featured a new round of photographs from her teen years in Seattle. The correspondent for the British paper, John Follain, noted that Knox's younger sister Deanna looks strikingly similar to Amanda. Like her parents, the younger daughter was forthcoming with Follain about details of her sister's life and descriptions of her generally cheery disposition. Deanna Knox, however, kindly asked not to be photographed.