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Police investigating mysterious death of an American woman in Italy

Police investigating mysterious death of an American woman in Italy
Italian police officers stand outside an apartment where Ashley Oslen, an American woman, was found dead in Florence on Saturday. (Maurizio Degl'Innocenti / ap)

Italian police on Sunday were investigating the death of an American woman whose naked body was discovered in her home in Florence.

Ashley Olsen, 35, from Summer Haven, Fla., who moved to Florence from the United States three years ago, was found strangled on Saturday in her one-bedroom apartment in the arty Santo Spirito district of the Tuscan city, authorities said.

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The case is being handled by Giacinto Profazio — the same detective who initially ran the investigation into the killing of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, in 2007, which led to the conviction and imprisonment of her American roommate, Amanda Knox.

Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were acquitted in 2015 following numerous retrials after doubts were raised about the reliability of the forensic investigation carried out in Perugia.

Investigators found bruises and scratches on Olsen's neck, and no evidence of forced entry at the apartment.

"Olsen was strangled, and we are trying to establish her movements before her death," said a police source in Florence, who added that an exact time of death had not yet been fixed. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

When Olsen moved to Florence, she was reunited with her father, an artist who teaches at an American school in the city, local media reported.

She built a busy social life, organizing artistic events, traveling in Italy and building a relationship with an Italian-born artist, Federico Fiorentini, who was raised in California before moving to Florence and has held exhibitions around the world.

Fiorentini, 43, who discovered Olsen's body on Saturday, told police he had argued with her three days earlier, local media reported. When she did not return his calls after the quarrel, he grew concerned and persuaded her landlord to open her apartment, where they found her body, he said.

Police are now interviewing Olsen's friends in Florence and analyzing her computer as well as security camera footage from the street outside her apartment.

Postings on her Instagram account suggest she may have had a stalker.

Three months ago, she posted a photo taken of herself while walking in Florence, taken by an unknown photographer, to which she added the hashtags #stalkeralert and #creeperintheback.

Kington is a special correspondent.

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