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Florence police probe apparent murder of US woman Ashley Olsen

Police in Italy have vowed to give "maximum attention" to finding the killer of a US citizen who was found dead in her Florence apartment. The situation has drawn comparisons with the Meredith Kercher case.

Police opened a murder investigation after the body of Ashley Olsen, from Florida, was found showing signs of strangulation.

The 35-year-old was found by her fiancé as well as the owner of the apartment she was renting.

"What happened in Florence is getting the maximum attention to find out what it's all about," Italy's national police chief, Alessandro Pansa said on Sunday. Police said they had questioned Olsen's partner, a local artist, but had no suspects so far.

The ANSA news agency reported that the couple had fallen out, and that Olsen's fiancé had not seen her for several days. He contacted the building owner saying he was worried, and the grim discovery was made.

Olsen had lived in Florence, where her father was an art professor, for several years. She was well known for being seen around the city with her pet Beagle, Scout.

"I can't imagine a person who would hurt her," Amy, a friend who only gave her first name, told the AP news agency. "She is a gentle, a kind, a beautiful, friendly, lovely girl and it's an awful shock. We've got a great community here of people and everyone loved her."

The AP news agency reported that several of Olsen's friends had expressed concern that the case would not prove to repeat the flawed investigation into the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher in the Umbrian city of Perugia.

Kercher's American roommate Amanda Knox was convicted of that murder, but was ultimately acquitted in the case.

rc/bw (AP, AFP, dpa)

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