"All I can say is, again, thank you," said her mother, schoolteacher Edda Mellas. "It's because of the letters and calls and just the amazing people's support that we've received from all over the world, especially from Seattle, that we've been able to endure."
Kercher's family, for their part, seemed bewildered at the sudden reversal of Knox's conviction and her speedy exit from Italy.
"While we accept the decision that was handed down … we are now left obviously looking at this again and thinking how a decision that was so certain two years ago has been so emphatically overturned now, which obviously raises further questions," Kercher's brother, Lyle Kercher, told reporters in Perugia.
Her sister, Stephanie Kercher, said the family would wait for the outcome of the prosecution's likely appeal of the reversal, a process that could take a year — and the outcome of which probably depends on whether Knox would ever return to Italy to face the court.
"We don't want the wrong people put away for a crime they didn't commit," she said. "Having said that ... it may be a case of waiting another year now to get the truth."
While some in Perugia cried "Shame!" when the acquittals were read out, in Seattle, many are sympathetic.
"I'm just glad she got out. If she were in America, she'd have gotten out to begin with," said Patty Simons, who had flown to Seattle from Montana and was peering from the sidelines at the elbow-jabbing circus of cameras and TV reporters that surrounded the podium.
"The girl's gone through hell. The DNA evidence was, I thought, polluted from the start, and why they didn't challenge it to begin with, I don't know," said Gary Foster, a retired investment banker from New York who had also flown in and wheeled his bag over for a look.
"But justice prevailed, and in the long run, that's what counts," he said. "She's probably going to have to take a few weeks off, talk with her family, and go on. She's got her whole life ahead of her."
Photos: Amanda Knox
Times staff writer Henry Chu in London contributed to this report.