US woman found strangled in her bed in Florence – Ashley Olsen

January 11, 2016 11:00 am

 , from , with her beagle, Scout. Friends described her as a “gentle girl”. Photo / Facebook

Police have vowed to find the killer of an American found dead in her
Florence apartment as ’s expat community expressed hope that the
case won’t turn into another Amanda Knox-style, drawn-out,
headline-grabbing legal saga.
Police opened a murder
investigation after 35-year-old Ashley Olsen of Summer Haven, Florida,
was found dead in her bed, her neck bruised and scratched, indicating
she had been strangled.
Authorities questioned Olsen’s boyfriend, a local artist who found her body, but said they had no suspects so far.
“What
happened in Florence is getting the maximum attention to find out what
it’s all about,” Italy’s police chief, Alessandro Pansa, said during an
unrelated visit Sunday to Florence, the ANSA agency reported.
Meanwhile,
friends and fellow expats expressed horror at the slaying of a woman
known around Florence for her beloved beagle, Scout, and said they hoped
her killer would be found quickly.

Flowers were left at her doorstep.
“I can’t imagine a
person who would hurt her. She is a gentle, a kind, a beautiful,
friendly, lovely girl and it’s an awful shock,” Amy, a friend who only
gave her first name, told The Associated Press in Florence. “We’ve got a
great community here of people and everyone loved her.”
Friends
and other expats expressed hope that the case wouldn’t end up repeating
the flawed, flip-flopping investigation into the last high-profile
murder case of a foreigner living in Italy, that of Meredith Kercher.
The
British student was studying in the Umbrian city of Perugia when she
was found dead in 2007. Knox, Kercher’s American roommate, and her
then-boyfriend were at first convicted of the murder, then acquitted,
convicted again on appeal and finally acquitted for good when Italy’s
supreme court last year definitively exonerated them. Another man was
convicted and is serving a 16-year sentence.
“I would hope for
her sake that this investigation is more clear,” said Georgette Jupe,
who writes the “Girl in Florence” blog and knew Olsen casually,
primarily because they both had beagles and lived near one another in
Florence’s Santo Spirito neighborhood.
Social media groups for
expats in Florence expressed the same sentiment, with several people
posting comments about the parallel to the Kercher investigation, which
was harshly criticized in both the American and British media.
“It
reignites the concern of justice, different policing and judicial
systems, and the different journalism styles between Italy and the ,”
Beth Prusiecki, an American living in Milan, told the AP in a message
after posting on one of the closed Facebook groups.
US media
tended to portray Knox as a victim of a legal system she didn’t
understand, where prosecutors can appeal acquittals. The Italian media
tended to take prosecutors’ view that Knox was responsible.
Jupe said Olsen was involved in fashion and had moved a few years ago to Florence, where her father was also a professor.
Olsen’s
Facebook page is full of photos of her and Scout, including on the
steps of the Santo Spirito church on the lovely piazza of the same name
that is the heart of the “Oltrarno” neighborhood of the Tuscan city.
“She always with her dog, always sitting on steps of Santo Spirito with friends,” Jupe said in a phone interview.
Alexandra
Lawrence, a 17-year resident of Florence, said the art-filled city has
long drawn creative people like Olsen, who find a ready-made expat
community that is far more active and close-knit than ones in Rome or
Milan.
“I think maybe because it’s such a small city, but because
there are so many expats, we all eventually come across each other and
run in similar circles,” said Lawrence, who teaches art history to
American students on study abroad programs and gives tours.
She said she didn’t know Olsen personally, but said the first thing she thought of when she heard the news was the Knox saga.
“We’ve
been through this terribly unresolved mystery with Amanda Knox,” she
said in an interview. “You never want it to get to that point.”

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