When and where did the confrontation occur?
By Ron Hendry
This article contains graphic crime scene photographs.
Robyn Butterworth, one of the English girlfriends Meredith had been visiting the evening of the murder, said that during her visit Meredith was wearing loose fitting blue jeans, fabric gym shoes, and a light sweatshirt with a zip fastener. She also carried a cream colored bag with a long shoulder strap. Another English friend said she was wearing jeans a bit torn, a blue jacket and a blue sweatshirt with both being Adidas. Rudy Guede told the police Meredith was wearing a dark jacket, white pullover, and blue jeans.
After reviewing and analyzing the evidence, I have come to the conclusion that when Meredith was confronted and attacked, she was wearing the same clothing that she had worn home from an evening of visiting with her girlfriends, although she may have lost one shoe early in the struggle with her assailant.
We know Meredith tried to call her mother at 8:56pm that night but that the call didn’t go through. This was around the time when she arrived home after parting with a friend who walked part of the way with her. It is possible that it was interrupted by the attack, and, in any event, it seems likely she would have made a further attempt to complete the call. The fact that she did not suggests she was confronted by her attacker within minutes of arriving home.
Police video and photos show no indication of any struggle outside of Meredith’s bedroom. The book Meredith borrowed and brought home was found closed on her bed. It is therefore likely that the confrontation took place entirely within her room.
Two struggle locations were found in Meredith’s room – one next to the bed and another at police marker “K” at the window wall.
Some likely indicators of a struggle at marker K and the desk can be seen in the photo above – blood mixed with hair and foot scuffling at K, chair jammed into desk with torn piece of newspaper under leg, and other scuffling foot markings on the floor.
Subtle indicators suggest that the struggle at the bed appears to be the initial struggle location while K appears to be the second and final struggle location. One is that the bed struggle is closer to the door than marker K. Another is that K, unlike the area next to the bed, is the site of twisting and scuffling markings, and long hair is mixed with the blood markings. Finally, two blood marking paths appear to lead from K to the large deposits of blood near the wardrobe wall.
The likely situation is that the killer initially confronted Meredith just inside her room about 8:56pm. Meredith may have been sitting on the edge of her bed attempting to call her mother. When the assailant entered the room, Meredith may have stood up to defend herself. The struggle began next to the bed and moved over to the desk area.
The evidence does not suggest multiple attackers. Much of the room was undisturbed, including items on the desk, wall shelves, and the wall hangings. The nightstand may have been jostled, but several items were left untouched on it as well.
The photo above shows some of the likely indicators of a struggle next to the bed – mattress jammed against the wall, exposed slats with blood drops on them, blood on the floor, and desk lamp on the floor. Note the book and notebook on the mattress.
Had Meredith been attacked by multiple individuals, investigators would have found more bloody shoeprints on the floor. More items in the room would have been disturbed. Each attacker would very likely have left multiple DNA traces and perhaps fingerprints inside the room, as Rudy did. Overall, the evidence suggests that Meredith encountered a strong male attacker wielding a knife, who quickly overpowered and mortally wounded her.
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Professional Opinion From Forensic Engineer Ron Hendry