Page last updated at 06:01 GMT, Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Tributes to 'beautiful' Meredith

Meredith Kercher
Meredith Kercher was studying in Perugia, Italy

The family of murdered British student Meredith Kercher have remembered her as a beautiful, intelligent and caring person, who was "pursuing her dream".

Miss Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon, south London, is thought to have been stabbed with a pocket knife in Perugia, Italy, where she was due to study for a year.

In a statement, her family said they were "devastated" at losing "a loving daughter, sister and a loyal friend".

Miss Kercher's body was found on Friday in the bedroom of her apartment.

She was partially clothed and under a duvet.

The family's statement, the first since her death, said relatives had been inundated with tributes following her death.

It said: "She was pursuing her dream and we can take some comfort in knowing that she has left us at what was a very happy time in her life.

Words cannot even begin to describe how we feel right now
Family statement

"We feel it is no exaggeration to say that Meredith touched the lives of everyone she met with her infectious, upbeat personality, smile and sense of humour.

"The sheer volume of tributes that have poured in during the past few days bear testament to the special girl we will all remember."

The statement also appealed for anyone with information to come forward "to help us bring to justice the person who has destroyed so many lives".

Phones checked

Miss Kercher's body showed signs of bruising and tests revealed evidence of sexual activity shortly before her death.

But the coroner has not confirmed if Miss Kercher was raped.

Miss Kercher is known to have gone to at least one party on Halloween last Wednesday, the night before she died, leading police to believe she may have known her killer and even met them at the party.

The next evening, she had dinner with a female friend, and went home in the middle of the evening.

One theory is that she opened the door of the apartment and let the killer inside.

Officers have been carrying out checks for fingerprints on two mobile phones belonging to Miss Kercher, which were found at or near the scene.

An elderly woman found one mobile abandoned in her garden and handed it in to the police.

They then traced it to the flat where they kicked in the door and discovered Miss Kercher's body.

Friends of Miss Kercher held a candlelit vigil in her memory at Perugia's cathedral on Monday night.

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