A visual inspection of the bra clasp
By Ron Hendry
Much has already been written about the severed piece of bra clasp as regards its belated recovery as physical evidence and still later DNA testing that purportedly connected Raffaele Sollecito to the murder of Meredith Kercher. What follows are photos taken of the clasp when initially found and 47 days later when found again and taken into evidence.
The photo above shows the clasp as it was initially found.
The photo above is an enlargement showing the heavily deformed hook that is also almost completely torn from its cloth attachment. A blood stained thread strand can also be seen on straight edge where the connecting thread had been ripped away.
The photo above shows the clasp as found on December 18.
The December 18 photo above shows a close-up of the same side of the clasp shown under the pillow. Note dirt debris around clasp. Note the damaged and nearly torn off hook. Note the blood soaked thread strands
The December 18 photo above shows an enlarged view of the clasp after handling and being laid back on the floor. This is the other side of the clasp showing indications of blood saturation and the appearance of two drops of blood. The arrow locates the damaged hook that was also nearly torn from its cloth attachment.
Several observations can be made from the crime scene photos. A close examination of the initial photo of the clasp reveals that one of the clasp hooks was heavily deformed and almost totally torn from its cloth attachment. This can be seen in the December 18 photos as well.
The hook deformation occurred in two locations. For one the hook portion itself was bent open about 90 degrees. The cloth attachment portion of the metal clasp was also heavily deformed as well.
The December 18 photos reveal a floor backdrop that has considerable dirt and other debris. The clasp appears to be considerably more soiled in the later photos as well but that may be partially explained by differences in the color makeup of the photos.
One side of the clasp has an area of absorbed blood and two areas of apparent blood drops. A long thread at the thread ripped end was also soaked in blood.
An explanation for the damage to the hook would be that the killer exerted considerable force on the rear bra strap to pull it apart which failed to separate the back strap but damaged the hook.
Timeline Contamination Critique
Meredith Kercher’s body was almost totally disrobed when her body was discovered on November 2, 2007. Most of her body was covered with a large duvet or quilt when initially found. Her bra was strewn on the floor of her room near her feet and just outside the edge of the duvet. When the quilt was pulled back, it was found that Meredith’s hips were positioned on top of one corner of her large pillow. After her body was removed, a separated clasp hook portion of her bra was found under her pillow. The bra clasp was photographed as initially found. Unfortunately it was not taken into evidence during the initial investigation of the upstairs cottage flat in the first few days following the discovery of the murder.
A reinvestigation of the flat was conducted by the Scientific Police on December 18, 2007. The investigation began about 1:14pm and ended after 7pm. During this reinvestigation, the bra clasp segment was initially photographed as found at 3:52pm and bagged at 3:55pm.
No still photo was provided of the locale where the bra clasp was before it was found. Photos and video of its finding indicate it was rather excitedly handled by two or three white suit investigators before being dropped on the floor, then picked up again and bagged as evidence. One of the investigators handling the clasp had visible contamination markings on his or her hands. The time of the photo provides a basis for evaluating possible contamination activities by the investigators before that time.
The photo above shows two gloved white suits handling the severed bra clasp during December 18 investigation. Note hand at left is holding another object while touching the clasp. Already published close-ups of rightmost hand reveal specks of foreign material on glove.
At least six investigators were inside the upstairs cottage flat before the clasp was found and bagged. Based on photos taken and their date information, the primary photographer moved about inside Meredith’s room and in the hallway, living room, and kitchen before the clasp was discovered and photographed.
About 2 hours and 45 minutes elapsed from the time the examination of the cottage began before the clasp was found. During that time, one or more of those who handled the bra clasp before it was bagged had opportunities to have handled objects that may have contained Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA.
A tabulation was made of the times that photos were made of the various activities inside the cottage and is listed at the end of this article.
What follows first is a list of photo documented activities definitely occurring before the clasp discovery that might have affected the integrity of DNA testing conducted on the bra clasp found during this lengthy examination of the flat.
Raffaele Sollecito’s fingerprints were found on the outside of Meredith’s bedroom door. Raffaele acknowledged trying to break the door down to see if Meredith was inside before the postal police arrived. Both of Meredith’s wall closet doors were resting on the outside door surface at the very beginning of the investigation. Some investigator took these doors and reinstalled them. Then several photos were taken of Meredith’s hallway room door in varying positions beginning at 2:49pm. The question is did one of the investigators touch the outer door surface or grasp the outer door handle before handling the clasp?
The investigator’s supply briefcase was located at Amanda Knox’s doorway and DNA containers were secured from the briefcase at 3:22pm some 30 minutes before the discovery of the clasp. – Raffaele had been in Amanda’s room from time to time and reportedly was in there before the body was discovered. So Raffaele’s DNA could have been on Amanda’s doorway where the investigators congregated to get supplies. A question is did one of the investigators place his hands on Amanda’s door before handling the clasp?
Meredith’s red and white Puma tennis shoes were handled and photographed at 3:33pm. – These tennis shoes had recently traversed the hallway where Raffaele had traversed the day before during his visit to the flat. The question is did an investigator handle the soles of these tennis shoes and then handle the severed bra clasp?
Some items throughout the cottage were initially photographed before the clasp was found and later photographed after the clasp was found but before being bagged as evidence or being more thoroughly examined. The following is a listing of such activities along with items photographed early but were also apparently more thoroughly examined after the clasp was found and bagged.
The refrigerator was initially photographed at 3:12pm, some 41 minutes before the discovery of the bra clasp. The refrigerator’s contents were photographed at 4:27pm some 35 minutes after the discovery of the clasp – Raffaele used the kitchen the day of Meredith’s murder so his DNA was quite likely on or about the refrigerator. A question is did one of the investigators grab the door handle to open and check out the refrigerator before handling the clasp?
Above photo at left– refrigerator photo at 3:12pm. Above photo at right – open refrigerator photo at 4:27pm.
Photos were taken of the small bathroom that had been sprayed with a chemical that turns pink when it comes in contact with any protein, at 4:09pm. Some 17 minutes after the discovery of the bra clasp. These photos include the trash bag found inside the bathroom. Raffaele likely used this bathroom and it would be reasonable to assume that his DNA had been in there as a natural consequence of visiting Amanda. We do not know when the investigation of the bathroom began. The question is did one of the investigators begin handling items in the bathroom before handling the clasp?
A photo of contents on Amanda Knox’s bed highlighted by the staged placement of the German edition of the Harry Potter book was taken at 7:30pm. A stain on one of her pillows was cut out and bagged at 7:32pm and a pair of her red socks was bagged at 8:02pm. – These photos were taken much later than the finding of the clasp. However, it is not known when an investigator began rummaging through Amanda’s belongings and it could well have started before the clasp was found with that person being one of those handling the clasp. It would be expected that Raffaele’s DNA would be in Amanda’s room as a natural consequence of visiting Amanda.
All told there were several opportunities for the white suit investigators handling the severed bra clasp to have earlier come into touching contact with items in other rooms and locations of the flat which contained DNA residues from Raffaele Sollecito that had been placed there either before the night of the murder of Meredith Kercher or the next day before the discovery of the body.
Time photo sequence of December 18, 2007 police investigation of upstairs
cottage flat where Meredith Kercher was murdered. All times are pm.
1:14 entered the cottage
1:50 started setting camera up in Meredith Kercher room
1:51 photo taken of items on and under bed
1:53 wardrobe doors at door entrance
2:01 videographer begins taping
2:04 four white suits in living room with woman white suit arrival
2:04 entry of non white suite investigator with green cap brings total to 6 in cottage
2:22 look at shoe prints erased by DNA scrubber
2:44 photos of floor where Meredith’s head had lain
2:49 photos of Meredith Kercher room door
2:53 mop and cleaner photos
3:12 refrigerator photo
3:18 mattress photo
3:22 samples from forensic kit at Amanda Knox door
3:26 DNA sample of wall finger swipe by bed
3:33 examination of tennis shoes
3:50 examined handbag
3:52 discovery of the clasp
3:59 examined white sock
3:59 examined floor mat
4:01 first photo blue zipper jacket
4:03 secured the mop and broom
4:07 photo of chemically enhanced small bathroom
4:09 mop bagged
4:12 examined blue zipper jacket
4:24 photos of blood drippings under bed
4:27 refrigerator exam
4:46 wardrobe doors reinstalled
5:17 blood trail photos
5:43 white suit working at wardrobe without glove
5:57 to 6:22 wardrobe spatter photos
6:57 rock being bagged
7:04 photos of Meredith’s black socks
7:05 white socks
7:09 blue zipper jacket
7:30 pose of German language Harry Potter book before bagging
7:32 Amanda Knox pillow with blood stain
7:36 photo of Filomena window rock impact
7:43 “S” marker stain
7:59 two white suits rummaging thru Amanda Knox’s clothing
8:02 photo of Amanda Knox red socks
8:04 blood stain door
8:10 “S” marker sample taken
8:31 to 9:17 luminol footprint photos
Visual Examination of Clasp
a website detailing the wrongful conviction of Amanda Knox & Raffaele Sollecito
Professional Opinion From Forensic Engineer Ron Hendry