When John Kercher was last year found collapsed in the street, it became the latest tragedy to befall a family caught in a “never-ending limbo” of grief.
The loving father had been tormented for more than a decade by the horrendous murder of his daughter, Meredith – with key questions surrounding the infamous case remaining unanswered to this day.
In January last year, the 77-year-old died in hospital after being found in the road near his Croydon home with two fractured legs, a broken arm and a head injury.
In yet another cruel blow to his family, this week a coroner said he was unable to say if John was killed in a hit-and-run – with police unable to establish why he was on the road.
In a book about Meredith’s murder, the grief-stricken dad spoke movingly about the “stark possibility” the Kerchers may never know what happened in her final hours.
This is how the family was rocked by the murder trial and subsequent acquittal that made headlines around the world – and why they have a “complicated” relationship with Meredith’s exonerated flatmate, Amanda Knox.
‘Beautiful, caring’ daughter stabbed 47 times
Described by her father as “beautiful, intelligent and caring”, Meredith – from Coulsdon, Surrey – was murdered on November 1, 2007, during an exchange trip to Italy.
Sickeningly, the 21-year-old’s body was found with 47 stab wounds on the bedroom floor of her apartment in Perugia.
Her throat had been cut and an autopsy revealed evidence of sexual assault.
John, who was a national newspaper journalist, later recalled how he first discovered his daughter was dead after ringing up a news desk to find out about reports of a British student killed in Perugia.
“I drop the phone. I do not believe it,” he wrote in the Daily Mail .
“There has to be a mistake. I refuse to let the facts sink in.
“I repeat it over and over to myself: 'Not beautiful Meredith… Not beautiful Meredith.'”
In a case that became a media storm, Meredith’s housemate Amanda Knox was twice convicted and twice acquitted of her murder and spent four years in prison along with her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito.
Another man, Rudy Guede, was also convicted of murder and was released in December last year after serving a 16-year sentence.
Explaining the sensational acquittal, court adviser Gennaro Marasca said none of the evidence demonstrated that either Knox or Sollecito was present at the crime scene.
He added that no “biological traces … could be attributed to them in the room of the murder or on the body of the victim, where in contrast numerous traces were found attributable to Guede”.
Family’s torment over ‘stark possibility’ of never seeing justice
In the years since, Knox, 34, has furiously slammed the handling of the case and her “utterly unjustified” treatment.
The Kerchers, meanwhile, have kept a lower profile as they struggle to get answers over what really happened the night Meredith was murdered.
Speaking on the tenth anniversary of her death, sister Stephanie said the “pain and helplessness never ceases”.
She told MailOnline : “It is difficult to come terms with not knowing exactly what happened that night, as whether you believe the guilt or innocence of the accused there are still contradictions and discrepancies in the judge’s summary.
“Nor have we heard anything more of a further investigation into who else they think may have been involved.
“Rudy Guede … was convicted on the basis that he did not act alone, however, with no one else on trial or convicted it does of course raise questions for us as a family and anyone following the case.”
In his memoir, Meredith: Our Daughter's Murder And The Heartbreaking Quest For The Truth, John revealed his pain that the courtroom drama had overshadowed the life of his little girl.
In a moving portrait, he paid tribute to her “jokes, her wicked one-liners and her laughter” – revealing how following his divorce from wife Arline in 1997, he was comforted by a voicemail from Meredith singing Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You down the phone.
Yet the family’s torment was still painfully raw.
“We are still waiting for justice for our daughter and sister,” he wrote.
“[We] have to face up to the stark possibility that we might never have a satisfactory picture of what unfolded in Perugia on that terrible November night.”
In the summer of 2009, John suffered a stroke which he speculated could have been related to the stress of the criminal investigation and draining trips to Italy.
Last January, he was found yards from his front door collapsed on the pavement.
Scotland Yard initially said John died in a suspected hit-and-run, but later said he had died of a fall.
An inquest into John's death heard the freelance journalist was found by passers-by near his home in Croydon, south London, on a "dark, wet and windy" night in mid-January last year.
He was "conscious but confused" and did not know why he was on the ground, the court heard.
A Kercher family spokesman said at the time of John's death: "We loved him dearly and he is going to be very sorely missed."
Knox’s ‘complicated’ relationship with Kerchers
The Kerchers’ search for answers has at times brought them into conflict with Knox, with relatives slamming her “inappropriate” behaviour following her acquittal.
The American has built up a huge media profile – releasing a memoir that reportedly earned her £3.5million, taking part in a Netflix documentary about the case and most recently hosting a series of podcasts including The Truth About True Crime.
In 2019, she returned to Italy to participate in a conference about wrongful convictions, sparking a rare statement from the Kerchers branding her actions “inappropriate” and “very painful”.
The Kerchers' lawyer, Francesco Maresca, told the Guardian : "All these insistences and appearances are only ever done to keep the attention on herself.
"The murder is a tragic memory for the Kercher family, they lost their daughter and sister in such a terrible way. It's also an injustice for them as they still don't know the full truth."
He added of her involvement in the conference: "It's unjustified because her process was not a classic case of 'judicial error'. There was a swing in the decisions: some judges decided one way, and others in another way."
Previously Knox has said she would like to meet the Kercher family and visit Meredith’s grave – but was warned by sister Stephanie to stay away.
She is currently pregnant with her first child with husband Christopher Robinson after suffering a miscarriage in May.
Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1 in August, Knox admitted she has kept her distance from Meredith’s parents, saying: "To this day, I can't tell you if they know that I'm innocent or not."
“Given the fact that I don't know that fact, I also understand that me even approaching them is a potential cause of great distress to their family and a dredging up of terrible memories."
She added: "I understand that the Kerchers have gone through an incredibly traumatic journey, not just from the tragic loss of Meredith but also through the incredibly confusing trial that they had to experience and go through and the feeling of being denied a sense of closure because of the outcome of the case.
"Given that understanding, I also know that they have a complicated relationship with me."
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