Home at last, Amanda Knox spent an emotional first 24 hours back on US soil yesterday, enjoying what her father described as the “simple pleasures” of freedom, after almost 1,500 days inside an Italian prison.
Having made a tearful return to Seattle, the home city she last saw more than four years ago, the 24-year-old former exchange student was adjusting to life among the friends and family members who had campaigned for her release.
In her only public statement, she told well-wishers that she was “really overwhelmed” to be back so quickly after being freed by an appeals court, and could scarcely believe the events which led to her acquittal.
“I was looking down from the aeroplane and it seemed like everything wasn’t real,” she told a press conference outside Seattle’s Tacoma international airport. It was, she admitted, tough to speak English after so long in a foreign country: “I’m having trouble with that.”
The comments, made in a broken voice, and interrupted by cheers from onlookers, came minutes after she emerged from a BA flight from London on Tuesday night. She did not take questions.
“What’s so important for me to say is just thank you, for everyone who’s believed in me, who’s defended me, who’s supported my family,” she said. “My family’s the most important thing to me right now, and I just want to go be with them. So thank you for being there for me.”
The tone of her remarks was in sharp contrast to her notes written during the trial, and published in Italy yesterday, which carried a sense of defiance in the face of despair.
“Violence, perversion, disrespect for life and person. These are what killed Mez and they are not a part of me,” Miss Knox wrote. “I am not the Monster of Perugia.”
Seeming exhausted after he journey, Knox was driven to a secret location, rumoured to be the residence of a wealthy benefactor. Her father said yesterday that she was “somewhere in the USA,” adding to speculation that her hideaway is outside the city.
She and her family now have some delicate decisions to make concerning how to leverage her fame without compromising her public image.
Theodore Simon, the family’s lawyer, said they had “a great appreciation of how worldwide this story is.” A Seattle PR company, Gogerty Marriott, has been hired to handle potential film, book, and TV deals.
Knox kept a diary of her time in prison, which is likely to attract lucrative bids from publishers. US TV networks are furiously competing for a first in-depth interview. David Marriott, the PR firm’s co-founder, told a local newspaper there had been at least 50 credible bids from broadcasters.
But talk of Knox becoming an overnight multi-millionaire may be optimistic. Her parents, who are divorced, have both remortgaged their homes to pay her legal bills, put at more than $1m (£648,000). She must repay that money before seeing any profit.
Her camp must also avoid accusations on cashing in on tragedy. To that end, Mr Simon stressed to the media: “let us not forget that Meredith was Amanda’s friend. And I know that Amanda and her family wants you to remember Meredith and to keep her firmly in your prayers.”
Neighbours of Ms Knox’s parents in Arbor Heights, West Seattle, were meanwhile asked not to hang “welcome home” banners, to avoid an appearance of triumphalism.
Knox’s father, Curt, spoke with reporters outside his home, after leaving the family’s hideaway to pick up some belongings. He said her priorities were to now enjoy: "some of the simplest things like, you know, laying down in some grass... She’s been in a concrete prison for four years, and the simplest things that you take for granted, she hasn’t had.”
Knox would eventually like to return to the University of Washington to finish her degree, he confirmed. But beyond that, there are few plans.
As to Amanda’s state of mind, Mr Knox added: “She's OK. It's been an emotional roller-coaster the last few days. This is all surreal. I didn't get to spend as much time as I would have liked with her last night. It's going to be like that for an extended period of time I think. She's really taking baby steps at the moment as she gets back to normal life.