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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 November 2007, 12:36 GMT
Hunt for British student's killer
Meredith Kercher
Ms Kercher's body was found in the bedroom of her apartment
Italian police have launched a manhunt after a British student living in Italy was found dead with her throat cut.

The body of Meredith Kercher, 21, from Croydon, south London, was found in the bedroom of her apartment in Perugia.

The Leeds University student had gone to see a film at a friend's house but went home alone.

The British Embassy in Rome said next of kin had been informed. The Foreign Office said it was working with Italian authorities to investigate the death.

Miss Kercher, who is believed to have lived with three other women, had been in the third year of a four-year European Studies degree and went to Italy on a one-year exchange.

Phones found

Police believe Miss Kercher left her apartment on Thursday night to go to a friend's house and returned alone.

Police at murder scene
An Italian police investigation into the murder is in full swing

Officers discovered her partially naked body in her bedroom on Friday afternoon. She had a deep cut to her throat and was found under a duvet.

Miss Kercher's mobile phone was found in a nearby garden, which led police to her apartment.

Police have ruled out a call made on the phone as a prank. Earlier, a woman had reported receiving a threatening call from someone using the phone on Thursday night.

Officers are investigating the significance of a second phone which was found next to Miss Kercher's, and will check the calls made on both phones.

Forensic teams have been working at the apartment where blood stains were found in the bathroom.

Missing key

BBC correspondent Christian Fraser said the door to the bedroom in which she was found had been locked from the inside and it is thought the murderer may have left through a broken window.

Police are also keen to trace an Italian boyfriend and a missing key used to lock Miss Kercher's door, and have recovered a bloodstained handkerchief from close to the apartment.

We are deeply shocked at this terrible news
University of Leeds spokeswoman

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We can confirm that a British national was found dead in her apartment.

"Our consular staff are in Perugia to liaise with the Italian authorities and to provide the necessary consular assistance. The circumstances of the death are under investigation by the Italian police."

According to local reports Miss Kercher had been based in Perugia since last August.

Perugia, which is in the Umbria region, is home to a large community of foreign students. A spokeswoman for the University of Leeds said: "We are deeply shocked at this terrible news, and our thoughts are with Meredith's family and friends."

Footage of the house where the student was found

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