Written By Karen Pruett
Who is the Real Amanda Knox?
Many have asked this important question, but most seek the answer from the media and her portrayal has been dominated by the notorious tabloid press who, as we all know, skew the facts. To know the real Amanda Knox you have to go to Seattle, Washington and speak to her family and friends. Never should anyone rely upon the tabloids or the Perugians for facts. Rather, listen to those who know her best beginning with Amanda herself…
“Meredith and I did a lot of routine things together—like walking to the grocery store and going to the rental office. She asked me to snap photos of her standing in front of the picture window in her bedroom. “I want my family to see my view,” she said.”
“Months later Meredith’s friends, our roommates, and especially the prosecutor would say that Meredith’s and my relationship had soured—that we fought over men, my manners, money. This wasn’t true. We never argued about anything.”
"I confided in her, I would often ask for her advice. ... When Meredith had a problem over my behavior, she would tell me. That was it. There was nothing she would keep hidden or that we couldn't find agreement on."
“I was stunned by her death, completely bowled over because it was unfair. She was my friend, and I lost a friend.”
"I cried but I was always hugged by Raffaele. First he gave me his jacket, then he was cuddling with me because I was shaking. I didn't know what to think, I was shocked."
"In general I'm someone who tends to act a little silly when I feel I'm in difficulty or not at ease."
“The indictment was a dark reminder of how completely vulnerable I was. Not only had the prosecution successfully had me convicted from something I hadn’t done, but also legally, my word meant nothing. I was trapped. And so angry. I’d never felt so consumed by raw, negative emotion as I did then. I had to turn my thoughts away from it.”
“It’s incomprehensible, unacceptable, what you’re going through, and what Meredith underwent. I’m sorry all this happened to you and that you‘ll never have her near you again, where she should be. You’re not alone when you think of her, because I’m thinking of you, I also remember Meredith, and my heart aches for all of you. Meredith was kind, intelligent, nice and always accommodating. She was the one who invited me to see Perugia with her, as a friend. I ‘m grateful and honored to have been able to be in her company and to have been able to know her.”
“Patrick? I don’t see you. But I’m sorry. I’m sorry, because I didn’t want to wrong you. I was very naive and not remotely courageous, because I should have been able to endure the pressure that pushed me to wrong you. I didn’t want to contribute to all that you suffered. You know what it means to have unjust accusations imposed on your skin. You didn’t deserve what you went through; I hope you’ll succeed in finding your peace.”
“I felt cheated as I watched him walk out of the courtroom in handcuffs. I was disgusted. I’d truly hoped and believed that Guede would do the right thing, because, damn it, he was human. How could he not, ultimately? As the double doors closed I quickly reorganized the statement I’d prepared. “I just want to say that the only time Rudy, Raffaele, and I have been together in the same place is in court, I said, “I’m shocked and anguished by his testimony. He knows we weren’t’ there.” Then I sat down, crying.”
"I am innocent. Raffaele is innocent. We did not kill Meredith. It doesn’t do justice to Meredith and her loved ones to take our lives from us." How is it possible that I should have jumped at the opportunity to hurt my friend? That girl is not me."
“To hold my hand and offer support and respect throughout the obstacles and the controversy, there were Italians. There was the Italy-USA Foundation, and many others that shared my pain and that helped me survive, with hope. I am eternally grateful for their caring hospitality and their courageous commitment. To those that wrote me, that defended me, that stood by me, that prayed for me. I am forever grateful to you. I love you, Amanda.”
“I’m really overwhelmed right now, I was looking down from the airplane and it seemed like everything wasn’t real. What’s important to me to say is just thank you everyone, who’s believed in me, who’s defended me, who’s supported my family. My family is the most important thing to me right now, I just want to go and be with them. So thank you for being there for me.”
"I believe that any questions as to my innocence must be examined by an objective investigation and a capable prosecution. The prosecution responsible for the many discrepancies in their work must be made to answer for them, for Raffaele's sake, my sake, and most especially for the sake of Meredith's family. Our hearts go out to them."
Amanda was born July 9, 1987, in Seattle Washington, and was barely 20 when her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, was murdered in 2007. The two were studying abroad in Perugia, Italy, and shared an apartment when the tragedy occurred. Amanda was swept up in a media frenzy barely a week after the murder when she and her new Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were arrested for the crime along with Amanda’s employer, a Congolese named Patrick Lumumba.
When Meredith’s murder made international headlines the world was introduced to Amanda through the false persona “Foxy Knoxy:” A murderous whore who is able to control men with a swivel of her hips, a woman so callous that she helped two men murder helpless Meredith.
The Real Amanda Knox is the complete opposite of the Sexy Satanist contrived by the Perugians and the tabloids.
Amanda was born and raised in West Seattle, a lively community that includes Alki beach, the birthplace of Seattle. The neat-as-a-pin neighborhood is full of quaint bungalows, stately Victorians and modern ranch-style homes surrounded with vistas of the Puget Sound and Mt. Rainer, there is hardly place in that part of town that does not enjoy beautiful scenery. Perched on the edge of Western Washington’s coniferous rainforest, the weather alternates from rain to crystal clear blue skies and the vegetation is lush and varied.
She grew up enjoying the delights of West Seattle including Seafair festivities like the local H-U Parade, the Seafair Pirate Landing at Alki Beach, beach volleyball tournaments and music concerts all with the Central Sound as a backdrop. Like many in the area, she loved the mountains, which are especially beautiful when the alpine fields are filled with summer flowers. At the time she left for Perugia, Amanda was rock climbing on campus at the University of Washington, even just making it to the top of the rock wall at REI is exhilarating and Amanda loved it. The Cascade and Olympic ranges offer many pinnacles to conquer, a bracing wind in your face and the panorama spread out below. She would say, “I prefer the mountains to the beach,” and she had the best of both worlds in Seattle.
Amanda is big sister to Deanna, Ashley and Delaney; the four girls are the focus of a blended family. Curt Knox, father to all four of these beautiful and talented ladies, was married twice, first to Edda and then to Cassandra. Edda is mother to Amanda and Deanna, Cassandra is mother to Ashley and Delany. Edda also remarried, to Chris Mellas, when her girls were small.
Both Edda and Curt were raised in the West Seattle and Vashon Island communities, both are well-liked, intelligent and talented people. Both are working professionals, Curt in finance and Edda is a grade school math specalist. The divorce, when Amanda was a toddler, has been the subject of much tabloid speculation, but in reality it is a normal decree, difficult as these things are, but average. However, in another sense, it can be called above average because Amanda and Deanna were lucky to have their parents living within two blocks of each other specifically so that the girls would have easy access to both parents and their younger sisters.
When Amanda became ensnared in the Italian legal system, Curt and Edda found themselves standing together in the harsh glare of the tabloid spotlight many years after their divorce. Through it all they showed remarkable solidarity and faced the media storm as any loving and concerned parent would do, they set aside their personal issues to become an anchor in the storm. With Chris and Cassandra at their side, all four of them stood together for their daughter
“The ordeal brought Curt and I closer together, it brought the whole family closer together,” Edda Mellas, February 2011.
“Any problems you have go right out the window when your child is in trouble,” Curt Knox 2013.
Amanda’s situation required her family to travel to Italy during the four years of her incarceration and they set up a rotation so that someone could be near her while others kept the home fires burning. Her stepmother shielded her younger sisters from the tabloid press and her stepfather moved to Perugia be close to her and maintain a residence for family and friends to use as they traveled back and forth. Her family became a focus of strength while maintaining their jovial nature and many who came to their aid found themselves wonderfully at ease, which galvanized us all the more to help these people save their daughter, sister, granddaughter and niece. Amanda’s family has shown remarkable courage and fortitude and she is very lucky to have come home to such people.
Amanda showed the world resilience, grace, determination and serenity; her fellow prisoners learned firsthand about her kindness and generosity.
As a child, she was a lively and curious girl who showed an intense desire to learn at an early age. She inherited her mother’s stature and has always been petite. Her mother allowed all manner of safe exploration, choosing her clothing or making castles in the flower bed, it’s from Edda that her creativity flows. She has also has the intellectual rigor that both parents possess and a sharp mind for language, math and writing. She embodies Curt’s speed and athleticism; in fact, three of his four daughters are accomplished competitors. Amanda’s forte was soccer, her speed on the pitch, quick brain and her trademark crouch when she ran earned her the nickname “Foxy Knoxy” when she was 13-years-old.
Small, smart and fast, like a fox.
“Foxy Lady” is one of Seattle Native Jimi Hendrix’s Greatest Hits and so, in Seattle and elsewhere, to have the name “foxy” bestowed upon you is a great compliment; it means that the girl or woman is very pretty. The high school Amanda felt privileged to be given the nickname and used it on her MySpace page, which would come back to haunt the 20-year-old university student when that page was plundered for information by the tabloid press and then twisted to become an evil persona.
As a Middle Schooler Amanda became a member of the National Honor Society, thanks to her high grade point average, and she continued playing soccer, lettering in the sport all though middle and high school. The summer of 2003, while in highschool, Amanda traveled to Japan as part of a student exchange program and spent a few weeks living with a family there; one requirement was to take classes in Japanese which delighted the girl who loved to learn languages. She graduated from Explorer West Middle School in 2001 where her academic talent and good character was recognized with the Manvel Schaffleur Award, given to the student who “best exemplifies academic excellence, community service, enthusiasm, kindness, and total integrity in all matters, large and small.”
Because of her proficiency in her studies and her personal drive, Amanda’s parents supported her wish to attend Seattle Preparatory Academy, though she attended on a scholarship because the expenses were beyond the family’s means. Amanda continued in her academic excellence and athletics, she embodied the quiet, serious student all the while maintaining a giggly, friendly persona.
At first Amanda was an outlier amongst the students at Seattle Prep; she was the not-so-wealthy hippie amongst the carefully appointed children of Seattle’s well-connected families. That she was a not Catholic stood out almost as much as her Grunge-Boho Chic fashion sense, but it was her kindness and sense of justice that left a mark on her classmates and teachers, something they would relate to the tabloid press who descended upon Seattle looking for dirt on the university student.
The tabloids could find no salacious anecdotes of debauchery; try as they might, including offering payment to Amanda’s friends, no one had any tales to tell because none existed. Only a couple of silly examples of 20-somethings being youthful ever surfaced and to Amanda’s friends in Seattle these were not titillating or worth a sound bite on the evening news. Sadly the tabloids thought they were. The tabloids were not at all interested in hearing from the people who know Amanda best, the people who know how kind and just she is.
Ultimately Seattle Prep and Amanda were a perfect fit because of her dedication to academic rigor and her athletic abilities. Amanda found her niche in the theater group and preformed in a few plays. During her senior year she was nominated for a 5th Avenue High School Musical Theatre Award when she starred as a goose with a British accent in Honk!, loosely based on the “Ugly Duckling.”
She graduated in 2005 with a 3.9 GPA and was known as openly kind and warmhearted person by the entire Seattle Prep community. These intrinsic and well-known qualities would serve her well as prominent members of Seattle Prep and thousands of people in the Greater Seattle Area came to the support of Amanda and her family.
Amanda attended the University of Washington and quickly made the Dean’s List. With linguistics as a focus, she had studied Latin, German, Italian and Japanese; she wanted to spend a year abroad in an immersion program. Her mother’s family was from Germany, where Edda was born, but for Amanda it was the allure of Italy with it’s friendly people and its cultural history that won the heart of this scholar. She chose Perugia specifically to be away from other American students so she could learn the language faster, but was also delighted to attend school in Seattle’s Sister City.
With her parents blessing she and the money she saved from working several jobs (coffee shop, doctor’s office, art gallery) Amanda was excited to leave for Europe. The ability to focus on a task is one of Amanda’s talents, while others her age were buying the latest fashion and clubbing, she was dialed in on making her dream come true. In August of 2007 she arrived in Perugia and quickly found an apartment near the University of Foreigners, excited to begin a new adventure.
Sadly, her wonderful time would be cut short 45 days after her arrival in Perugia when her roommate Meredith was slain during a home invasion burglary. In an absurd caricature of a police murder investigation, Amanda became a murder suspect at 20, a scant four months out of her teens. From the moment she entered her quiet apartment on the morning of November 2, 2007, her ordinary life became extraordinary. Her every word, her every gesture, her every emotion was spun to produce the most negative things possible, in Perugia the sweet and kind Amanda that Seattle knew, did not exist. The tabloids joined the Perugians to compound the lies already being laid down. In essence, the tabloid journalists would rather believe less than ten strangers in Italy than the hundreds in Seattle who knew Amanda personally. They preferred the Sexy Satanist fantasy to the real-life Nice Girl.
So to understand who Amanda Knox truly is, the young woman behind the Mask and Mantle forced upon her by Perugia, and disgorged by the tabloids, you must listen to what her family and friends have to say. Therein lays the truth.
Curt Knox, Amanda’s father,
“She has never hurt a thing.”
"She is someone who wouldn't kill a spider."
“This portrayal of the sex crazed party girl is 180 degrees opposite of anything we have ever known her to be.”
“It’s actually very tough, knowing that she’s innocent. The whole description of the situation has just been extremely rough.”
"To tell you the truth I want her cleared of everything because they need to know who she is. She hasn't been a part of this at all."
Edda Mellas, Amanda’s mother,
“Other soccer parents would come up to me and say, ‘Wow, what a kid!’ She was very small compared to a lot of the other players, so she really had to fight for a spot on the team.”
"This was a horrible crime, but I couldn't understand why immediately Amanda was painted in this horrible light, where she was unrecognizable to those who knew her."
“We found an injured crow just before she left, on the street, and she insisted we had to pack it up, get it in a box, and call the Humane Society, then wait for them to come pick it up.”
“She wanted people to know she was innocent and she and Meredith [Kercher] were good friends and they had a great time. Trying to describe herself, she said, ‘I’m somebody who loves yoga and rock climbing, and chai tea and Indian food are my favorites. And I’d rather be in the mountains than on the beach.’ That’s a quick description of her.”
“The fact that she’s there and she’s innocent is bad enough, but that just made it twice as bad to see all of that come out and none of it was really her. People who really know her well were all shocked by what was said.”
"I'll tell you a little story about Amanda. Amanda doesn't know how to lie. If you were to ask her, 'What do you think of my shoes?' and she thought they were hideous, she doesn't do the polite thing - she'll tell you they're hideous. Since she was five she'd do that. That's what I meant by unique, she is honest."
Deanna Knox, Amanda’s sister,
“She never went out. She stayed at home, studied and worked, and that's all she did. Just so she could afford to go there.”
“I've seen a lot of people at college just lift a lid and just,” I'm free,” and go nuts, but Amanda definitely didn't do that. She did not go crazy with men in Italy at any time. I mean she's a normal girl and she found a guy there, but she did not go crazy.”
"Amanda is the kindest person I know. She will do anything to make people happy and she cares about everyone else before herself."
“Amanda's very book smart, she can learn things very quickly, like language, but not so street smart. Amanda sometimes can only see the good in people, and to be able to survive I think you need to know the fact that there is some bad in people in the world.”
“ That’s the definition of Amanda. Amanda is trusting in people.”
“Amanda’s amazing; she’s the best person I know. She’s caring and nice, and I just want her home.”
Ashley Knox, Amanda’s sister,
“She is not the witch that everybody says she is, she is a very loyal and down-to-earth person and everyone that knows her knows this.”
“She always tries to make the best out of every situation. She always asks how we’re doing.’’
“She is a humble person.”
Delaney Knox, Amanda’s sister,
“I know the truth about my sister, so I just don’t think about it “that way” because my sister isn’t like that. I just think of the positive things about her.’’
“She’s become a stronger person and she is smarter.”
“She always thinks positive. She doesn’t like to talk about herself. She wants to learn about us and wants to just catch up on things and ask us questions.’’
Chris Mellas, Amanda’s stepfather,
“Even with the weight of the world on her shoulders, she can sing, so I should not groan when I get out of bed because I am utterly free by comparison.”
"It was complete garbage. It was false in every way. It was without any sort of basis in reality. It was beyond belief."
"When she was about 14, we were at a soccer tournament and there was this enormous puddle of chocolate-brown muddy water. And her coach looked at Amanda and said, 'I bet you wouldn't jump into that mud puddle. I'd give you five bucks if you did.' And he hadn't even finished the sentence and she went and belly flopped into it and splashed everybody. These are the things that are just her; she has a unique quality to her."
"She loved it when the nuns brought in the children of the other inmates; they climbed all over her and hugged her. That was one of her favorite moments of the week."
"Before this happened, Amanda never had any issues or problems, her life was school, soccer, friends."
Cassandra Knox, Amanda’s stepmother,
"I just don't believe a word of it. I just can't imagine there is any truth in it at all. He (Curt) is in a state of utter shock and disbelief. There's no way she could have done it, it’s all a horrible mistake."
"She was amazingly upbeat…we managed to laugh a little. We managed to sing a little. Her head is in a really great spot. She's not dark at all, not depressed. She believes her attorneys did a good job and that they will continue to do a good job for her."
“To keep a family member over there every single month so that they can visit her on those visiting days, that’s always been very important to Amanda, and that’s very important to us. We will continue to have a family member there.”
Brett Lither, friend
“The essence of Amanda is still intact. She's matured a lot in prison but she's still the beautiful person that she'll always be.”
“I'd go there for as long as it took. This girl has no business being in prison."
“The Amanda that I know is honest, authentic. She doesn’t really know how to be anything but herself.”
Madison Paxton, friend,
"When we heard Amanda had been arrested, our first reaction was to laugh, because it was so incredibly absurd. She's the most gentle, naïve, innocent person you could imagine. We just couldn't believe it. The least likely person to perform any act of violence, that I'd ever met, arrested for murder? It's still absurd.”
“ She's an incredibly kind-hearted person, she's someone who takes learning very seriously, she's passionate about art and writing and poetry and English. She's really excited about travelling.”
“ There wasn't a single thing we read in the reporting on the case that had a hint of her true character. When this whole murder, sex orgy thing came out, we knew very well that she never had a history of that. She never had a history of orgies or murder ... or any indication that she might lean in that direction. We didn't give it any validity at all."
"They're convicting a made-up person. They're convicting 'Foxy Knoxy.' That's not Amanda."
“I admire the fact that she is determined to keep living a worthwhile existence. She studies every day, does translations for other prisoners, reads constantly, writes letters non-stop, and just generally tries to focus on growing as a person. She is determined to have ownership over her own life, regardless of whether or not she is 'free'. Her character is really honed and she is more confident now than she ever was. It is strangely beautiful."
David Johnsrud, friend,
“Amanda is one of the most warm-hearted individuals I’ve ever known. I place her on the same level as my parents in that regard. But she’s also often misunderstood. She has a real passion for living life to the fullest. Many people just cannot understand how a person could be so excited just to wake up every day.”
“Amanda is, in my opinion, yes, a bit naive when it comes to certain things. She doesn’t assess dangerous situations in the same way most people do (i.e. walking home alone at night). But you would be making a huge mistake if you thought she was naive in most other areas of her life. I have always thought that she understands other people better than they understand themselves. People have relied on Amanda during their times of need for as long as I’ve known her.”
“I met her in the month leading up to our freshman year. We immediately became friends because both she and I were into rock climbing, soccer, and other outdoor sports–mainly rock climbing though.”
“Her positive, friendly attitude. Most everyone likes Amanda when they first meet her, although some people don’t like her for having so much energy. I think they’re just bitter though.”
“Yeah, she’s an amazing person, one of the greatest human beings I’ve met so far. She wouldn’t have such strong support if she wasn’t. Some of her university friends (not sure if I’ll be there or not) will be testifying at her trial. They are going to be spending thousands of dollars of their own money, taking time off from school and work, and flying all the way across the ocean to Italy just to spend a day or two talking about who the real Amanda is. If that doesn’t say something about the kind of person she is, then I don’t know what else to say.”
Ben Parker, friend,
"This whole sex, drugs and craziness, and scandal and satanic rituals and all these ridiculous things that they're saying are so ridiculous, so opposite, there's no way I could every imagine her doing anything close to this."
“Everybody that’s met this girl has fallen in love with her, that’s just the kind of person that she is.”
"Nobody is going to stop fighting for her - not her family, not her lawyers, not her friends; she'll get out in the end."
Jessica Nichols, friend,
“She’s amazing, she always try to find a way to try and make sure that everyone she loves is OK and to stay involved in our lives while she is going through this. She’s really brave.”
Andrew Seliber, friend,
“I think it would be great if she says what she has been trying to say for nearly four years, that she had nothing to do with this and Meredith was her friend, and she misses her a great deal she was devastated when she was killed.”
“I think it was her open personality, you know? To see the good things in people and she always has a positive attitude about everybody and everything in the world.”
“I would say she's very athletic and cares a lot about her health and, you know, would never try drugs more than any other college student may experiment a little bit, you know, say, with marijuana, but nothing major. She wasn't into hard drugs. She wasn't a big partier. So to hear these things about she just became this crazed sex addict who did drugs all the time, it was, you know, almost a near alcoholic over there, it's just I don’t buy it. No.”
“She was having the happiest time of her life. She worked three jobs responsibly so she had the money to go there."
"She told me she got on really well with her room mates and enjoyed the time she spent with them. She told me when her flatmate was killed she was very upset."
John Lange, Seattle Prep teacher,
“She was sweet. She never did anything to harm anyone else. She was not conniving. She was not mean-spirited.”
“She is kind, hard-working and a team player. There is not a mean bone in her body.”
“She’s not going to lie down, to let this Italian tragedy dictate all her movements. I’d like to see in six months that she’s free enough to go back and take classes.”
Kris Johnson, Seattle Prep teacher,
“She has been brave and courageous through everything. She keeps her faith in humanity, believing that people are good. She has a tremendous amount of trust, even now. I think her trust and innocence is what got her into this.”
“Amanda was not a girl who was ever mean in any way. Quite the opposite, she was very kind as wasn’t the kind of kid who always had to compete with others. She was great in terms of getting along with everyone and working in groups. Other kids liked working with her because she was always kind and always pulled her own weight.”
“She is a person who went out of the way to be kind to other people.”
“She was so diligent that she signed up for an extra English class at a time when she could have had a free period. She took an extra class so she stood out.”
“It was very unusual for a kid to take an extra class on top of the AP English class, but Amanda took on the challenge. As a student Amanda was so curious and eager. She not only took a double-English class, she also took Shakespeare.”
Art gallery owner, Rick Kirsten,
“We had a preview party for several artists on a Sunday afternoon. It was extremely busy and the gallery was literally full of people. Standing alone, off in one corner was a young girl, maybe 8-10 years old. She looked quite unhappy being in a sea of adults and ignored, she looked like she would rather be anywhere else in the world other than an art gallery. Amanda had noticed this little girl all alone. Amanda broke off her conversation with the customer and went over to this little girl, kneeled down and talked to her. I saw the little girl's demeanor totally change as she smiled and laughed and talked with Amanda. It was a wonderful, caring and kind gesture on Amanda's part. I was proud of Amanda.”
Michael Heavey, King County Superior Court Judge (ret.)
“And as far as Amanda goes, she should be honored for the strength she displayed those four years.”
Steve Moore, FBI (ret),
“Amanda is a truly spectacular person, even more intelligent than I expected, even more empathetic that she had been described, and even more gentle than I had anticipated.”
“Amanda herself seems to bear no malice and wonders how anybody could believe she did what prosecutor Giuliano Mignini charged her with.”
“At this moment I find that the word “elation” is woefully inadequate to describe my emotions. Euphoria might be a closer word, but euphoria eventually fades. As long as I live, I will remember that late night in the courtroom when two innocents were rescued form a cabal of evil men.”
From the Friends of Amanda website,
“The real Amanda Knox bears no resemblance to the warped image presented by the Italian authorities and some elements in the media. Amanda is a kind-hearted human being with a friendly, upbeat personality. She can be outspoken, but is seldom angry. If something bothers her, she writes about it. This is a habit she learned at her Jesuit high school, which encourages students to follow in the tradition of St. Ignatius by keeping a journal to help them achieve spiritual growth and greater awareness. Amanda has never committed a violent act in her life and she detests bullying or cruelty of any kind.”
Anne Bremner, attorney, Friends of Amanda,
"This image of a wanton, promiscuous, drug-addled young she-devil involved in horrific rituals is very simply a description that her family and friends cannot recognize.”
Tom Wright, Friends of Amanda,
"She's an extraordinary young lady, and I think as the months and years move forward that other people will discover that the image that put forth by the prosecutor bears no resemblance to the actual person.”
“ She will be welcomed back to Seattle with open arms."
Karen Pruett, community member,
“Amanda is exactly like her family, fun, smart, devoted, determined, brave and kind.”
“If this weren’t so tragic I'd laugh at the irony, the Perugians thought they had a devil, instead they persecuted an angel.”
“Seattle is waiting for the world to catch up, we have always known that Amanda Knox is a sweet young woman.”