A Detailed Look at the Physical Evidence Regarding the Break-In
By Ron Hendry
Part three of four - A discussion of early observations that raised suspicions of staging.
By Ron Hendry
Early observations that raised suspicions of a staged break-in and later rationales for asserting a staged break-in
Any full discussion of the break-in should address the several supposedly negative observations creating suspicions of a staged break-in. These supposed negatives were promoted by conspiracy advocates as justification for their belief that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito conspired with Rudy Guede to murder Meredith Kercher. The following are several assertions made by those wanting to believe the break-in was staged;
1. A burglar wouldn’t choose Filomena’s window as it faced the highway and a vehicle’s lights would shine on it.
The wall containing Filomena’s window was skewed outward about 15 degrees or so with respect the highway and the headlights of righthand approaching traffic did not come close to shining on her window. The window and wall were also obscured by barrier railing bars and a large still leafed out tree at the highway edge. The outward skew also prevented street lights from illuminating her window and wall area.
However, anyone walking or driving into the parking lot would be able to see someone on the wall at the window. Conversely, Rudy also could look back and make sure no one was approaching at several stages of his breaking and entering through the window.
A break-in at the patio in the rear would have been more secluded. However, someone climbing onto the patio and throwing a rock through the kitchen window could have easily found themselves trapped if a downstairs male had been home and awakened by the noise.
Filomena’s window was the only point of entry where the window could easily be broken with a tossed rock while allowing a readily accessible escape route if someone were at home in either level and awakened by the noise. This site also allowed the intruder the ability to monitor for someone approaching in the driveway up until the entry was accomplished.
So a couple of advantages of the break-in through Filomena’s window or a rear entry would be the ability to more easily escape if someone were at home and awakened by the noise and the ability to monitor for someone approaching up until the entry was accomplished.
2. Filomena testified she had pulled the outer shutters until they were wedged closed but not latched before leaving the flat the day of the murder.
Filomena reportedly testified that the last time she left the flat before the murder she had pulled the outward shutters inward until they wedged closed but had not been able to close them enough to lock them. In her early statements she had not been as positive about closing the outer shutters as she was at trial. The trial sentencing report for Amanda and Raffaele held as fact that Filomena had performed this task as she had been concerned about safety considering she might not be back for a couple of days. The trial sentencing report advanced the rationale that the nearly closed outer shutters together with other factors made it too difficult for an intruder to consider accessing the upstairs flat through Filomena’s window.
Under the assumption that Filomena did indeed pull the outer shutters in until they were wedged closed, Rudy still had an easy way to open the shutter on the walkway entrance side. He could have climbed on top of the concrete planter under the entrance overhang. Then he could have positioned himself at and facing the corner of the building. Then with his right hand holding onto the wall corner, Rudy could have reached out with his left hand and grabbed the nearest shutter and pulled it open.
In any event, the nearside shutter could have been opened while keeping a close eye out for anyone approaching the cottage parking lot by foot or car. Had anyone approached, Rudy could have aborted the break-in and said he had come by to visit the downstairs occupants but no one was at home.
The photo above shows a view looking from highway edge and above the highway barrier railing that a motorist would have to peer through. The arrow locates Filomena’s window where the break-in occurred. Note how the window is below the top horizontal plane of the highway barrier railing. The large tree ahead was fully leafed out at the time of the murder.
The photo above shows a view of Filomena’s window and the planter. Rudy Guede could have easily accessed the walkway side shutter by standing on the concrete planter under the roof overhang at the locale of the arrow.
3. Lack of physical evidence of the intruder on the ground or wall considering that
it had recently rained.
A possible scrubbing mark on the top surface of the wood casing around the lower window has already been addressed in Part Two.
According to one source, it had rained only about 1-1/2 inches in Perugia in the month of October, 2007. The last recorded rain occurred two days before the murder on October 30th when it rained about .8 inch. So the soil was not likely saturated at the time of the murder and may not have been soft enough to leave a footprint.
The ground below Filomena’s wall was lightly coated by recent fallen tree leaves as shown below by one of the few timely photos taken of the ground. Even if the ground was damp, the intruder, Rudy Guede, may have walked over the tree leaves and grass to reach the starting point for his climb. As such, one would not expect to see notable dirt or mud on the wall. Even if the shoe soles were wet and transferred some of that moisture to the wall, one would not expect this wetness to have lasted for the 14 or so hours from the intrusion to the discovery of the body.
It is not known how rigorous the effort was to find evidence of an intruder on the ground below Filomena’s window or climbing the wall. One person did apparently look but his efforts captured by the video appeared to stop at the end of the concrete walkway. (see photo in Part One) What is noticeable missing from the police crime scene documentation evidence are closeup photos of the wall and grounds documenting their condition before alteration by non police persons such as Filomena Romanelli and her boyfriend Marco Zaroli who reportedly walked around under the window to perform their own inspection.
From an examination of the exterior wall and grounds area, Rudy had multiple options for reaching the window. One option was to walk around the cottage along the concrete walkway until it ended and then walk on grass and earth until reaching the downstairs window directly below Filomena’s window.
A second option was to climb down from the parking lot or somewhere along the walkway and make his way down to the window below Filomana’s from that direction. In either of the first two options, Rudy may have walked along on a light cover of fallen tree leaves that both masked his steps and prevented dirt from accumulating on the bottom of his feet.
A third option would have enabled Rudy to avoid walking on the ground below the window at all. In this option, Rudy could have first climbed atop the concrete planter under the entrance overhang. From there, he could have positioned himself such that he could have lowered his right foot into a small recess at the corner of the building and concrete planter. A possible foot scrubbing marking shows up in the photo below showing that recess. Once his right foot was positioned there, Rudy could have hooked his right hand into the recess of the concrete planter and then stretched his left leg and foot out along the wall until his left foot rested on the top horizontal bar of the lower window. At the same time his left hand would grab the already open window shutter. Then he would transfer his weight onto the horizontal bar and proceed to take the final steps needed to gain entrance into Filomena’s room.
The photo above shows a view of the wall and ground under Filomena’s window. Note the light blanket of recently fallen leaves and the strongly sloping embankment toward the entrance walkway. Upper arrow locates corner of concrete planter that Rudy could have used for a hand hold and. lower arrow locates recess which Rudy could have placed his right foot before an attempt to move to the lower window.
4. It would be too difficult a feat to get into the room once you reach the window by stepping on the window bars of the room below
Admittedly, an entry through Filomena’s window was not easy and an entry through the patio door or kitchen window on the back side might have been easier provided the downstairs door entrance bars could have been utilized to climb up to the patio. However, Rudy Guede was a good athlete, almost 6 feet tall with a lean, strong physique. For Rudy, climbing through the window provided very little challenge.
So, how did Rudy proceed from where the Defense witness is shown in the photo above?
Filomena’s window opening appeared to nominally be about 2 feet wide by 4 feet high with two casement windows about one foot by 4 feet wide. The outer window sill was about 8 inches deep and about 27 inches wide.
Once Rudy was standing on the top horizontal bar on the lower window, his armpits would have been almost level with the window sill. From this position he could begin removing any loose glass shards from the window sash frame and placing them on the sill or toss them in the room. Once he had cleared the window sash of loose shards, he could have braced and raised himself up on his left arm until he could reach in with his right hand to unlock the casement windows. Once the casement windows were opened, Rudy could get a handhold at the window sill edge for elevating himself and entering the room.
If however, the opening in the broken window needed enlargement to allow reaching the latch, then Rudy could have grabbed hold of the window sash in an area free of shards and raised himself until his knees rested on the outer sill. From there he could work on enlarging the broken window until he had an opening that allowed access to the casement window latch. He may have had to use a glass breaker tool to enlarge the broken out window to the side of
the latch. Once enlarged, he would reach in with his right hand and arm and unlock the casement window latch and open the casement windows. From there he would place one or both hands down on the sill and elevate his legs and swing them into the room.
5. The nail wasn’t bent.
Some proponents of the staging argument pin much of their argument on a single unbent nail on the wall below Filomena’s window. They argue it most suredly would have been bent by the intruder in his attempts to get into the window. This is simply not true. The only utility of the protruding nail would have been as a light intermediate hand hold for the intruder before he could reach the window sill or the outer door shutter. Used in that manner if at all, one would not expect the nail to have been bent or otherwise damaged. Once the intruder has his hands and arms on the window sill he doesn’t need to propel himself upward with his legs and would have no need to try and use the nail in that manner.
The photo below shows a defense witness in the process of climbing the wall and the arrow locates the nail in question.
In the photo above, the upper arrow shows the wardrobe door in contact with the inner solid wood shutter. The lower arrow shows the locale on the TV coaxial cable which had a possible snagging appearance.
In the photo above note the TV in contact with boxes and with coax cable extending from rear. Arrows follow path of TV coax cable showing it moving under the window. Note open spaces in folded storage shelves. Note open upper shelf doors with one next to wall in contact with inner shutter of window. Note undisturbed clothes hanging section. Note folded yellow sweater on top of pile of clothing.
Overall, the ransacking appearance can be explained as associated with side effects
of Rudy’s breaking and entering through the window. As regards the lack of anything being stolen from the room, Rudy may have been reluctant to check Filomena’s room first as her window was facing the entrance and any light in that window would catch the attention of anyone approaching from the parking lot. In addition, Rudy may have felt he had plenty of time to check out this room and decided to fulfill his thirst and other personal needs, such as using the bathroom, before doing anything else. Once Meredith arrived at the flat, all Rudy’s burglary plans were altered.
In Rudy’s conversations with the downstairs male flatmates, they very likely talked about the recreational drug usage of the upstairs flatmates and how they got their recreational drugs. If Rudy did rummage through a few things in Filomena’s room, he was likely looking for either cash or hashish early on and if he found none, this would also explain why nothing was taken from Filomena’s room. In the off chance Rudy did find and take a stash of hashish in Filomena’s room – do you suppose that Filomena would have mentioned she was missing an illegal drug stash?
6. Pieces of glass were found on top of clothing on the floor and the notebook
computer by Filomena Romanelli and one of the Postal Policemen.
This was discussed in detail in Part One.
Filomena’s observations about the glass were not inconsistent with Rudy breaking and entering through the window. Either the rock Rudy threw through the window or his own feet during entry could have overturned the notebook computer. Also the rock and or Rudy’s feet could have induced glass particles to fall on the computer upon entering the room. Additionally, when Rudy worked on the broken window pane to remove dangerous glass shards, he may have dropped those inside the room and they fell on clothing and notebook computer.
7. Filomena’s room was ransacked but nothing of value was taken.
Filamena Romanelli returned to her flat a few minutes before Meredith’s body was discovered. She went into her room and checked it out before everyone was asked to leave the cottage. She found nothing of value missing from her room and her paraphrased comments were that it wasn’t much of a thief who would break in, ransack her room, and not take anything of value as several valuable items were in plain sight.
These early observations were touted by the Prosecution and conspiracy advocates alike as indicating the break-in was staged by those who participated in the murder of Meredith. The idea promoted by the Prosecution was that some of the murderers were close to Meredith and wanted to throw the police off track and hide the fact of their participation.
In the fall of 2007, Filamena Romanelli was in her upper 20s and had a job with a local attorney’s office. Her room was small and Spartan with little storage room for clothing and other belongings.
From an examination of the police photos, Filomena’s room appeared overly cluttered with far too many items of clothing and other belongings for the meager room storage. (See photos in Part One)
The disturbance and scattering of clothing and belongings near and under the window can be explained by the rock landing on top of one bag of clothing and Rudy Guede’s feet possibly landing on top of other items during his entry and initial steps after entering the darkened room.
The pile of clothing next to the wardrobe closet is probably the primary thing that led to the ransacking claim. It can be reasonably presumed that some or perhaps all of these clothing items had originally been stored in the top two shelves of the wardrobe closet prior to the intrusion.
Three non ransacking rationales can be set forth for explaining how clothing items stored in the top wardrobe shelves came to wind up on the floor. These rationales assume that Filomena had stored as much clothing as possible in the top two shelves to the point that they were way overstuffed. These rationales are;
1. If the outer top shelf door at the wall had been left open by Filomena, then the action of the rock being thrown threw the window from the outside may have induced several articles of clothing to fall from the top shelves. When the large rock impacted the inner solid wood shutter, it would have induced a strong rotation of the shutter. This rotation may have slammed the inner wood shutter into a fully opened wardrobe door and this contact may have induced a strong twisting and jostling action of the wardrobe closet to the extent that many of the overstuffed clothing items fell to the floor. The several photos of the inner solid wood shutter and the top shelf door show varying positions between the two. One position we don’t see is the inner shutter swung around to the wall until it was well out of the way. The shutter’s position in the various photographs is always such that it could have been stopped by contact with the wardrobe door.
2. When Rudy entered the room from the window, he may have stumbled on items on the floor, and to try to maintain his balance he may have reached out and grabbed hold of an open wardrobe door and jostled it such that clothing fell from the overstuffed shelves. Alternately, he may have stumbled toward the wardrobe closet and made contact with the closet such that the upper doors swung open and clothing fell from the overstuffed shelves.
3. When Rudy entered the room from the window, one of his shoes may have snagged the coaxial cable connected to the television and this exerted a notable pull on the television and wardrobe closet such that clothing fell from the overstuffed shelves. The coaxial cable has a discoloration in the locale where Rudy’s foot would have made contact. The coaxial cable does appear that it may have been snagged in that location. The television definitely appears to have been moved such that its rear is firmly in contact with and has dislocated the storage boxes.
A twisting type of jostling of the wardrobe closet would tend to induce more clothing to fall from the corners of the shelves than the center. Also the flat surface of the stored boxes, their being in contact with the TV and the coaxial cable all combined to hold them in place during any light to moderate jostling of the wardrobe closet.
a website detailing the wrongful conviction of Amanda Knox & Raffaele Sollecito
Professional Opinion From Forensic Engineer Ron Hendry
The above supposedly negative observations and rationales lack substance under close examination. Collectively or individually, they do not negate the finding in Part One that Filomena’s window was broken by a large rock thrown from the outside and the finding in Part Two that Rudy Guede intruded into the upstairs flat through Filomena’s window.