A Detailed Look at the Physical Evidence Regarding the Break-In
By Ron Hendry
Part two of four - Did Rudy Guede gain entrance to the cottage through Filomena Romanelli’s window?
By Ron Hendry
Rudy Guede was found guilty of involvement in the murder of Meredith Kercher on October, 2008. Amanda Knox, upstairs flatmate of Meredith, and her boyfriend of one week before the murder, Raffaele Sollecito, were found guilty of involvement in Meredith’s murder in December, 2009.
Prior to the murder of Meredith Kercher, Rudy Guede had acquired a recent history of several burglaries with one known instance of entering through an upstairs window after breaking it with a rock. At the time of the murder, Rudy had no known means of financial income or support.
None of Meredith’s surviving flatmates knew or testified of any instance where Rudy had ever been a visitor to their upstairs flat.
Additionally, no flatmate, friend or acquaintance of Meredith was aware of her having any sort of contact with or any relationship with Rudy. Thus there was no rationale for her to have consenting intimate contact with Rudy, especially considering her reported cautious nature.
However, in the weeks prior to the murder, Rudy had met the downstairs male flatmates on a nearby basketball court and was a recent visitor to their downstairs flat. Thus, he had gained some familiarity with the cottage layout and had an opportunity to scope out the perimeter of the upstairs flat while visiting the downstairs flat. He also had an opportunity during these visits to locate a rock that would be suitable for breaking a window.
Rudy admitted being in the upstairs flat at the time of the murder. Rudy also admitted having intimate contact with Meredith, being in Amanda Knox’s room, drinking some juice in the refrigerator, using the commode in the large bathroom, and being in Meredith’s room when she died.
Amanda Knox had reportedly met Rudy when he visited the downstairs male flat mates and perhaps another occasion or two. However no friend or acquaintance of either has ventured that they had an established friendship or ongoing communication dialogue. Raffaele Sollecito claimed he did not know and had never met Rudy Guede and no friend or acquaintance of either has disputed that claim. Also, Rudy has never claimed a friendship or communication dialogue with either Amanda or Raffaele.
What follows is a listing of the physical evidence relating to Rudy Guede and Filomena’s broken window;
1. The window pane in Filomena’s room had been broken by a large rock thrown from the outside – This was established in the Part One analysis.
2. The top edge of the wood frame casing around the bottom flat window exhibited indications of recent scrubbing contact – A portion of this window frame casing edge is much lighter than the adjacent area suggesting that an intruder’s foot may have scrubbed there while seeking a foothold during his entry into Filomena’s window.
In the photo above, the arrow locates a lighter section of the window frame casing edge suggesting possible recent scrubbing contact. This is about the best photo that has surfaced of the area directly under Filomena’s window. No closeups of the window frame area highlighted by the arrow were apparently taken during the police investigation.
3. The broken window pane appeared altered by hand after being broken by a rock thrown from the outside –
A window broken by a large rock will ordinarily still have several jagged and dangerous shards lining its edges. This is especially so for the bottom edge where gravity will tend to hold shards in place even if the retaining groove has been loosened by the impact to the glass.
Filomena’s window only had a few small jagged glass shards remaining in the lower right window corner at a location that did not hinder access. Overall, no jagged shards were found on either side or the bottom of the window except for the few bunched small shards at the lower right corner. It is also noteworthy that the opening in the broken pane is much greater to the inside where the latch is located than to the outside.
Prior to breakage, this window pane had been well secured by its outer edge sash molding with the inner groove edge being solid wood lining. The outer molding did not appear to have been materially dislocated by the rock impact to the glass.
Manually removing glass shards on the bottom and side sash would be important for gaining a hand hold to lift oneself up onto the window sill.
Removing glass shards on the sides would be important for allowing the hand and arm to reach in and up to the left to unlatch the casement windows.
The photo above shows an early view of large shards of glass lying on outer window ledge. The near orderly arrangement of these shards is not how one would expect from a free fall. Most of these larger shards had likely been removed by the intruder.
The photo above of Filomena’s broken window illustrates a couple of interesting aspects about the broken pane opening on the inside near the latch. The enlarged break opening on this side is fortuitous in that it greatly facilitates reaching in by hand to unlatch the casement windows. The blue arrows point to two abrupt break direction changes that one would not ordinarily expect in a crack propagation that originated from a rock impact below. The black arrows locate two small localized damage sites along the crack line. One explanation for these localized damage sites would be inflection contact at breakage while another would be purposeful localized impacts to create a break in the glass.These features open the possibility that the intruder may have selectively enlarged the broken pane opening to the latch side.
The photo above is composite of lower sash region of a window broken out during a test by a defense expert witness. Note the jagged shards remaining in this lower edge and compare to the missing shards in the lower edge of Filomena’s window.
The photo above shows the downstairs flat door window that had just been broken by the foot of the blond haired policewoman. Note the jagged shards on side. In the photo, a policeman has stepped forward and is in the process of using a large rod or stick to knock out these shards to facilitate reaching in and unlocking the door.
The photo above is a a view an approximately 15 inch by 15 inch garage door window knocked out by a large bird impact and shown here for rough comparison purposes only. Note the shards remaining on the bottom and one side. Note the dislocation of the sash bar on the left side which allowed for the shards on that side to completely fall out.
4. The casement windows had been unlatched and opened and the external shutters were found opened – The found open condition of Filomena’s windows and shutters were fully consistent with someone having gained entry through them.
The photo above shows the video screen photo capture from an early video of Filomena’s window taken about two hours after the discovery of the murder.
5. Some of the clothing on the floor exhibited indications of having been stepped upon by someone whose shoe had loose appearing material on it. – This was well covered by Bruce Fischer’s article. This loose appearing material is easier to promote as coming from someone climbing the wall and stepping down into the room from the window than from someone walking into the room from somewhere else in the flat or the front door entrance.
In the photo above the arrows locate foreign material possibly deposited by a shoe onto two garments between a handbag and a shopping bag that had been struck by the large rock.
In the photo above the arrow locates foreign particles possibly deposited by a shoe near the window drape
6. Items of substantial value were stolen from the upstairs flat – Meredith Kercher’s rent and pocket money were missing and never recovered, her cell phones were missing and recovered elsewhere, and her credit cards were also missing but never recovered. The rent money was $300 Euros while she would be expected to have another $50 Euros or so in pocket money.
7. No definitive fingerprints and or DNA was found at the broken window or elsewhere in Filomena’s room to connect to an intruder – The number of tests for fingerprints and DNA in Filomena’s room and or window was not known. However, none were advanced as being those made by the person who broke the window.
8. Rudy Guede’s known method of burglary operation – Rudy was known to act alone at night in a search for cash and valuables, and to carry a knife and a glass breaking tool among his burglary tools. In addition, Rudy was known to throw a large rock to break a window. (A large rock would facilitate access and also waken anyone inside and alert Rudy to call off the burglary.) Rudy was also known to climb a wall to enter an upstairs window.
9. Rudy Guede was a physically fit and skilled athlete – Rudy was a skilled athlete. Rudy was 21 years old and almost 6 feet tall with a lean wiry muscular build. He appeared to have exceptional physical characteristics for climbing. Rudy also appeared to have the upper body strength to easily elevate his torso and legs upward by his arms in much the same manner as a gymnast.
10. Rudy Guede had no visible means of financial support and had been active of late as a burglar – Being the first day of the month, Rudy’s rent was due as was rent for others in Perugia. Being a long holiday weekend, many would be gone and some would be expected to have rent money stashed in their apartments. Thus, Rudy had strong motivation to locate an empty apartment for burglarizing.
11. Rudy’s DNA was found in multiple locations in the upstairs flat including inside the body of Meredith Kercher and his fingerprints were found on a pillow case beneath her body. – Thus, Rudy Guede was in the upstairs flat the night of the murder.
a website detailing the wrongful conviction of Amanda Knox & Raffaele Sollecito
Professional Opinion From Forensic Engineer Ron Hendry
In Part One of our series, we found conclusive evidence that a large rock was thrown at Filomena’s window from the outside and was the same rock found inside Filomena’s room.
The broken window appeared altered by an intruder who removed virtually all the dangerous glass shards. The broken out window section on the latch side also had features that suggested possible alteration by an intruder so as to enhance access to the casement window latch.
The foreign dust markings on Filomena’s clothing were more consistent with having been made by an intruder right after scaling the wall and stepping down from the window sill than anyone who had entered the flat through the front door. Apparently no tests were made of the dust materials to ascertain their likely origin.
The discoloration to a portion of the top edge of the wooden frame casing around the bottom window was a possible marker left by an intruder’s foot during the effort to enter the upstairs flat through Filomena’s window. Unfortunately, no closeup police photos have surfaced of the window and wall beneath Filomena’s window to ascertain if any other distinctive indications of recent foot contact had possibly occurred.
Also, substantial cash and valuables were found to be missing from the upstairs flat. Thus, we have several markers that were consistent with Rudy Guede’s method of burglary operation – an operation at night, a rock thrown at an upstairs window, and cash and valuables missing from the residence. Added to that we have Rudy Guede’s DNA and fingerprints being found inside the flat. Rudy, a known and recently very active burglar with no means of financial support and obviously desperate, should not have been in the upstairs flat. All these factors combine to indicate that Rudy Guede intruded into the cottage flat through Filomena’s window.
Thus, the totality of the physical evidence indicated that Rudy Guede, acting alone as he had always in the past, intruded into the upstairs flat through the window to Filamena Romanelli’s room near and about the time of the murder of Meredith Kercher.