Tired and tearful, Amanda Knox stepped onto American soil for the first time in four years last night, and told a crowd of well-wishers and reporters that she was “really overwhelmed” to be back home so soon after her dramatic 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 last night. It was, she admitted, tough to speak English after so long in an Italian prison: “I’m having trouble with that.”
Knox’s brief comments, made in a broken voice, and interrupted by whooping from onlookers, came minutes after she had emerged from a BA flight from London. She was accompanied by her immediate family, US lawyer, and a handful of policemen.
“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.
Knox spent the night at an undisclosed location, disappointing neighbours who had hoped to welcome her back to father Curt’s house, on a suburban cul-de-sac about twenty minutes drive from the airport. A handful of satellite trucks were waiting to greet her when she arrived.
On the porch, a blue “welcome home” sign fluttered in the breeze, similar to several others currently hanging from balconies and bridges across the city. Earlier in the afternoon, a handful of women describing themselves as Knox’s friends entered the white clapboard property with several dozen inflated party balloons.
Curt stopped at the property to collect some belongings before joining the rest of his family. “She’s overwhelmed,” he told reporters outside. “She’s been in prison for almost four years and to be able to get out and just try to get back home and get back here where she grew up and everything was just very overwhelming to her
With regard to their plans for the evening, he added ‘It’s mainly really to just be with her family; that’s what she’s wanted to be doing for four years now. She’s not at her mum’s house. She needs some space and that’s the way it’s going to be.'
Knox’s divorced parents, Curt and Edda – who appeared at the press conference alongside both her step-parents, and her younger sister – thanked supporters who have campaigned vigorously for her release. “It’s been a very long four years, but we couldn’t have made it without you people out here,” Curt said, smiling.
No light was shed on how Knox expects to spend the coming days, once she has slept off the jetlag. She did not take questions, and no members of her inner circle offered any details as to whether she intends to speak at greater length about her trial, imprisonment, and subsequent acquittal. A Seattle PR company, Gogerty Marriott, is handling bids for an all-important first American TV interview.
Theodore Simon, the family’s US attorney, described the events since Amanda’s arrest as “a trying and gruelling four-year nightmarish marathon that no child, or parent should have to endure.” He praised them for demonstrating “unquestioned and unparalleled patience, steadfast courage, dignity, resilience, and fortitude.”
“Most of all, they have relied upon their faith that this unjust conviction would not stand, he said. “They have persevered with unusual grace and under extremely difficult circumstances. Given those circumstances, the significance and severity of the charges, and the unrelenting pressure they faced, they have been and continue to be deserving of our support, admiration and prayers.”
The acquittal has shed harsh light on both the Italian court system and the conduct of police investigators. He said it: “unmistakably announces to the world that Amanda Knox was wrongly convicted and that she was not, absolutely not, responsible for the tragic loss of Meredith Kercher.”
With regard to Kercher, the British student whose death four years ago remains shrouded in mystery, Mr Simon added: “Finally, and importantly, 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.”