American Artist Found Dead in Florence Apartment in Apparent Homicide

Olsen hinted via Instagram that someone may have been stalking her.

Photo: Ashley Olson (@ashleyannolsen) via Instagram.
Photo: Ashley Olson (@ashleyannolsen) via Instagram.

American expat artist Ashley Olsen was found dead in her apartment in Florence, Italy on January 10. Her death is being treated as a homicide, Fox reports.

Italian news agency ANSA reports that Olsen’s body was found by her boyfriend, an unnamed Italian painter, and that she was naked and covered with scratches and bruises. Several local news outlets have reported that the cause of the 35-year-old artist’s death was strangulation, but this has not been officially confirmed by authorities. Italian prosecutors have opened a murder investigation, and many are speculating it could turn into the “next Amanda Knox trial”—a reference to the drawn-out, headline-grabbing 2007 case surrounding the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in the Italian town of Perugia.

There were no signs of forced entry into Olsen’s apartment, but her injuries are consistent with the theory that she may have tried to fight off an attacker.

Twelve weeks ago, Olsen hinted via Instagram that she had a potential stalker, uploading an image of a blonde woman with the hashtags #stalkeralert, #creeperintheback, #creeperpic, and #weirds***. “I have a #stalker,” reads the caption. Another post nine weeks ago shows Olsen giving the middle finger to someone with the hashtags #f***off and #creeper.

Photo: Instagram.

Photo: Instagram.

Olsen also recently hinted via Instagram that she was having relationship troubles. This has been corroborated by a local woman who Olsen frequently spent time with at a neighborhood cafe. “I talked to her nearly every day, I felt like a mother figure to her,” the anonymous woman told the Telegraph. “She had been in a previous marriage that ended badly, and still had her ex-husband’s name tattooed on the inside of her wrist. I encouraged her to get therapy, to not repeat the situation.”

Investigators have been searching for clues by studying Olsen’s computer and cell phone record, as well as CCTV images from the area immediately surrounding her apartment.

“The investigation is active and ongoing, so we are not making any official declarations at this time,” said Florence police spokeswoman Maddalena Carosi in a statement.

Olsen, who is originally from Florida, moved to Florence in 2012 to be near her father, a professor of art at a local American school. Olsen was well-known in her small neighborhood of Oltrarno. She was often spotted sitting on the steps of the Santo Spirito church with her beloved beagle Scout. Local expat friends have expressed horror and dismay at the shocking act of violence.

“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,” a friend named Amy told The Associated Press in Florence. “We’ve got a great community here of people and everyone loved her.”


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