Knox: 'I Am Innocent, I Will Be Free'

Photo: Amanda Knox

Of all the fears parents face when a child goes out into the world, Amanda Knox's mother and father could never have imagined that just six weeks after their daughter arrived in the quaint, medieval town of Perugia in Italy's Umbrian countryside, she would be in prison.

The 20-year-old is a suspect in the brutal murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, and her family is caught in a nightmare 6,000 miles from their hometown of Seattle.

Curt Knox and Edda Mellas only can see their daughter for an hour twice a week in an Italian prison.

"20/20" traveled to Perugia to investigate the side of story people haven't heard, and Knox's parents and 19-year-old sister, Deanna Knox, are speaking publicly for the first time in an exclusive interview with "20/20" co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas.

In her prison diary, Knox writes, "I know I am innocent. This is light enough. I may be in prison for a crime I didn't commit, but the truth is out there, and I wait day by day, for it to be discovered. … I am innocent and so I will be free. I will have freedom." (Click here to read a page of Knox's prison diary).

A Dream Becomes a Nightmare

Knox's parents divorced when she was a toddler, but they raised their two daughters together. They shared the pride when Knox made the Dean's List at the University of Washington, and the financial concerns when she yearned to spend her junior year abroad.

"We basically told her that, you know, here's how much we have available, and she said, 'Well, I can make up the rest,'" said Curt Knox.

According to Deanna Knox, her sister "never went out. She stayed home, studied and worked, and that's all she did, just so she could afford to go [abroad]." Two years, countless jobs and $7,000 later, Knox had made her dream a reality.

Perugia is an ancient city two hours north of Rome, known mostly today for its chocolates and its universities, which attracts 40,000 student each year from all over the world.

In August 2007, Deanna Knox accompanied her sister on her first visit to Perugia to find a place to live. They settled on a cottage overlooking the Umbrian valley that Knox would eventually share with two Italian women and Kercher, who also came to Perugia from England to fulfill her dream of studying abroad.

Knox's parents say that their daughter and her roommate got along well.

"Everything seemed to be meshing just fine," said Curt Knox. "I got to hear about [how] her and Meredith spent a bunch of time at this big chocolate festival. And she said, 'Yeah, we had the best time.'"

"They got along great," said Mellas.

Some of Kercher's friends say that Knox got too involved in Perugia's lively social scene, that Kercher complained that her roommate partied too much and brought home too many boys. But Deanna Knox says that doesn't sound like her sister.

"I've seen a lot of people at college just lift a lid and just, I'm free, and go nuts. But Amanda definitely didn't do that. … She did not go crazy with men in Italy at any time. I mean, she's a normal girl and she found a guy there, but she did not go crazy."

The guy was Rafaele Sollecito, an Italian engineering student Knox met at a classical music concert.

For Kercher, the experience abroad would take a horrific turn.

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