Police have confirmed the name of the fourth suspect they are seeking in connection with the murder of Meredith Kercher as Rudy Hermann Guede, 21. He has a police record for possession of drugs and involvement in a knifing incident in Perugia some years ago.
The international arrest warrant that police have issued for Mr Guede, originally from Ivory Coast, turns the case of the English student's murder upside down and throws into doubt detectives' claims that they had already cracked the case with the arrests of Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito and Patrick Lumumba.
It also subverts the theory advanced by the preliminary judge in the case that Kercher, 21, was murdered at the climax of a game of extreme sex in which she did not want to participate. She may have been killed, for reasons as yet unknown, while fully dressed then undressed afterwards to make the crime look like rape and murder.
Mr Guede's fingerprints were found on a blood-soaked pillow in the room where Kercher died, and his DNA on faeces in the flat's lavatory. No prints of Mr Sollecito or Mr Lumumba and only scant ones of Ms Knox were found in the room where the killing occurred. If the new theory is sustained, Mr Guede may have acted alone, although aided after the killing by Ms Knox, who may have covered up for him since.
Italian media reported that Mr Guede, who was fostered by a wealthy family in Perugia, had broken away from them and become a small-time drug dealer, providing students with cannabis. Police were able to match his fingerprints and DNA at the crime scene to those from an incident when Mr Guede was stabbed in a fight over drugs.
Investigators say Mr Guede left Perugia on the morning after the murder and went to Milan, where he was stopped by police but not detained. Detectives locked on to his mobile phone signal in Milan as recently as this weekend, but it then went dead. Amanda Knox made at least two calls to his number, one of them at 11am on 2 November, around the time police discovered Kercher's body.Reuse content