How to be an Evidence Extraordinaire

The police gave these back to me. I have never opened them.

So, the interesting part about having filed my police report in Rome, was that they gave me the items they found at Marco’s apartment that same day right after I signed my statement and left the station. Yes, I thought that was odd. I have seen hundreds of Law and Order episodes and don’t ever remember them handing the evidence to the victim the day of the crime.  It concerned me somewhat at first. I was not sure if this was a sign they would not pursue the case further or if the items were just no longer needed.

I am so glad they found these at Marco’s because they matched my claims that he took my scarf from me (and taunted me with it) and that there was a struggle. The bracelet has a broken clasp. I remember when I realized it was missing. The head of the sex crimes unit interrupted my police interview earlier in the day to ask me if  I was missing any jewelry. I knew I was missing an earring. But I had not realized the bracelet was gone until that moment. It solved the question of why I had a very deep hole – a puncture – in my left arm. Marco kept trying to pull me into his apartment and he kept grabbing my wrists and squeezing hard. 

Hard to see, but it was really deep and I didn't know why.

I want to make the point here that evidence is not only what the police find, but what you yourself provide. When I arrived at the police station straight from the Embassy, I brought a bag of items:

  • A book of Marco’s artwork that he had given me at his studio the previous day
  • Marco’s business card
  • My time-stamped receipt from a purchase I had made right before coming upon the Papa Cafe (more about that purchase later)
  • The camera disk containing a photo of me with him at the Papa Cafe and photos of my injuries
  • My bloody tank top and the sweater I had worn over it which had ripped straight through when I got stuck on the metal railing while exiting Marco’s patio
  • map with circles showing where I thought he lived

Before I had left for the Embassy from my hotel, I tried to go back and find the street where Marco lived so I could get the name of it. I dressed in sun glasses, a ball cap and my black coat. I didn’t make it the whole way there because I got very nervous and queasy, and lost my courage. But at least I was able to give the police an estimate on where he lived in relation to my hotel.

All of these little things helped them find Marco as well as build the case against him. A week after I returned from Rome, I was sent a document (in Italian, of course!) by the State Department from the police asking for my consent that they test my tank and sweater for forensics. At the time I didn’t understand why. I had already told them Marco had not had the chance to rape me. Later I learned that they were able to match my blood from my sweater and tank to blood they found on Marco’s clothes and at the scene, thus proving that I had sustained injury in his presence, and at his hand, and not just from all the climbing and jumping I did during the escape. I believe that is why the charge of “personal lesion” was added to the charges against him a year later when the investigation officially ended. I had told the police that he had hit me in the nose during our struggle, and the evidence supported that.

So please, if you are ever assaulted, keep your clothes and other items if you are able to. You might not be thinking clearly at the time, you might be desperate to shower or destroy things, but maybe if you remember how it helped me, you can help yourself. Even if you are not sure that you want to move forward, do nothing rather than destroy or throw things away. Just give yourself the chance for later down the road, that’s all.

QUOTE:  “It is not being without fear; it is having the determination to go on in spite of it.” – Vickie M. Worsham

One thought

  1. I read the article about you in Marie Claire (actually heard about it from Jemele Hill on Twitter), and just wanted to say thank you very much for sharing your experience. I personally have always felt for women who are victims of such attacks, and I think the information you are sharing is invaluable for other women to be aware of. I know the common opinion is that you always hear about the bad news and never enough of the good, but if your story and information can help educate enough people to even save one possible victim from an attack, then that is really saying something.

    Keep up the great work on the posts, and I’ll be sure to spread the word about your site to try and help your experience as many people as possible.

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