Meredith was a quiet girl, diligent and studious. She wanted to become a teacher. The youngest child of freelance journalist John Kercher and Arline Kercher, she grew up in Coulsdon, a small town within the South London borough of Croydon. Friends and family called her Mez. She attended a private all-girls school and then the University of Leeds. At Leeds, she made the fateful decision to spend a year learning Italian in Perugia through the European Union's Erasmus university-exchange program.
Meeting by their common response to a posted request for housemates at the university, the reserved Meredith and lively Amanda initially hit it off, their Italian roommates say. They could relax and slip into English with each other, and, despite their striking differences in temperament, they had a lot in common. They were both humanities students at large, research-oriented universities, and, friends say, both enjoyed drinking in all-night bars, smoking marijuana and playing guitar. But their friendship seems to have been limited. Meredith marveled to her English friends and to her parents that Amanda found a boyfriend, the brooding, tense Raffaele Sollecito, as soon as she arrived in Perugia. Meredith and the Italian roommates found themselves unnerved by the gregarious Amanda's many frequent visitors, and Amanda and Meredith drifted apart.
Meredith, Amanda and their friends spent Halloween at a party downstairs at the home of Giacomo Silenzi, the Italian boy Meredith was dating. November 1, the girls went their separate ways. Meredith and countrywomen Sophie Purton and Robyn Butterworth had dinner at Robyn's apartment, then watched "The Notebook" on DVD. Meredith was tired from the previous night's party. They made it an early night. After the credits rolled on the tale of lost love, Sophie walked Meredith part way home, and Meredith arrived back at her cottage around 9:15 p.m. Sometime between then and midnight, investigators concluded, Meredith sustained the fatal throat wound that caused her slow death by asphyxiation.