What Happened To Ashley Olsen? The American Woman's Death In Florence Is Being Treated As A Homicide
An American artist living in Florence was found dead in her apartment Saturday, and police are treating the death as a homicide. The body of Ashley Olsen, 35, was found with bruises and scratches on her neck by her boyfriend and landlord after phone calls to her went unanswered. Many are describing Olsen's death as sharing similarities to the Amanda Knox case — the most infamous criminal investigation involving an American woman in Italy.
Olsen, originally from Summer Haven, Florida, moved to Florence two years ago, where her father is a professor at the Florence Art School Bianca Cappello. Her Facebook and Instagram are filled with photos of herself and her beagle, Scout, around the city. At least two of her Instagram posts have the hashtag "#creeper" and one is captioned "I have a #stalker," though it's unclear if she was jokingly referring to a friend or her boyfriend.
Italian authorities haven't commented on the cause of Olsen's death, as the autopsy results haven't come back yet, but police promised to devote "maximum attention" to finding the killer. Olsen's boyfriend, a local artist, was questioned by the authorities, but there are no suspects yet.
An Italian murder investigation immediately brought to mind the 2007 case of British exchange student Meredith Kercher, who was killed with a kitchen knife in her apartment in Perugia, about two hours south of Florence. Amanda Knox, Kercher's 20-year-old American roommate at the time, and Knox's then-boyfriend were convicted of the murder, acquitted, convicted again, and finally exonerated by Italy's supreme court in March.
Aside from being a murder case involving an American living in Italy, the Olsen case has the same lead investigator as the Kercher-Knox case: Giacinto Profazio. At the time of Kercher's murder, Profazio was the head of the Perugia Flying Squad (what Italy calls its mobile police squads), and he now leads the Florence Flying Squad. Profazio was present for Knox's interrogation, and testified that she did cartwheels and the splits while waiting to be questioned (Knox later explained that she was doing yoga to relieve stress).
Alexandra Lawrence, an American who has lived in Florence for 17 years, but didn't know Olsen personally, told CBS News that her mind instantly went to the Knox case when she heard about the death. "We've been through this terribly unresolved mystery with Amanda Knox. You never want it to get to that point." Many are hoping that this investigation doesn't mimic the controversial Knox case, and that Olsen's killer is brought to justice soon. Police inquiries are still in their early stages.