Where there's a murder victim, there is usually collateral damage. Families are torn apart, alliances are severed. And in the case of the murder of Meredith Kercher, innocent people are swept up in the investigation. In 2007, 20-year-old American student Amanda Knox was being questioned about the murder of her British roommate and implicated her boss, Congolese bar owner Diya "Patrick" Lumumba, in the crime. Lumumba was arrested by Italian police based on Knox's remarks. He was held for two weeks before an alibi was produced and he was released. But what was Patrick Lumumba's alibi for the time when Meredith Kercher was killed? It had to do with the very pub where Knox worked.
In fact, Knox says in the Netflix documentary Amanda Knox that she was originally supposed to work the night of Nov. 1, 2007. She claims that Lumumba texted her that day to tell her that she wasn't needed and could have the evening off. According to Knox, she shot back a response text saying that she'd see Lumumba later and settled in for a night with her boyfriend of a week, Raffaele Sollecito. They allegedly smoked pot, talked, and had sex. The two then reportedly went to Knox's shared home the next morning and found it in disarray. They also claim to have found Kercher's dead body, wrapped in her duvet.
Knox was targeted as a suspect soon after the investigation began. She claimed to The Guardian in 2014 that the questioning was severe and that she felt she was being coerced into confessing. She claimed:
They said you need to remember, and if you don't remember we're going to put you in prison. I felt it was my fault I was confused — they made it seem like it was my fault, that there was something wrong with me....And now we have this cellphone message. Try to think…Who is this Patrick you sent this message to? You left, you left, it says so on this message. I was just sitting there so long trying to think what I couldn't remember, and them yelling at me and saying if I didn't remember, I'd go to prison for 30 years, and I was protecting the killer.
Eventually, Knox named Lumumba as the person who killed Kercher in their house, while Knox allegedly held her hands over her own ears. "I thought, Oh my God, it must be true what they're saying," she claimed to The Guardian. Fortunately for Lumumba, a patron of his establishment was paying attention that night. According to The Daily Mail, a Swiss man came forward to tell police that he'd been drinking at the bar that night and had seen and spoken with Lumumba there. Knox told The Guardian that Lumumba wasn't immediately released after his whereabouts were accounted for, "so his anger is misdirected." Still, she is aware that her former boss "was greatly hurt" by her actions.
Lumumba lost his bar because of his involvement in the investigation. He eventually moved to Poland with his wife and still holds Knox responsible for disrupting his life. "One thing I could never understand is that Amanda has always said she was given a rough time by the police," Lumumba told The Daily Mail in 2011. "But I was named as the one who killed Meredith, the black, third-world African, and they never gave me any problems." After Knox's final acquittal in 2015, Lumumba told The Observer (via The Guardian) that he believed the verdict came down in her favor because "she’s American and rich."
Lumumba's own ordeal would have carried on longer if one of his customers hadn't spoken up about where he was and what he was doing the night Kercher was killed.