>>> amanda knox is on a plane tonight making her way back home to seattle after a four-year nightmare for her. accused of murder, kept behind bars in italy for four years. then just yesterday freed in italy. stephanie gosk starts our coverage off tonight. good evening.

>> reporter:  in less than two hours, amanda knox and her family will arrive here in seattle. the last time she was in this airport four years ago, she was just a student heading off on a school year abroad. now all of that has challenged. there's a throng of media waiting for her. she's expected to say a brief statement and then whisked away. there's a sense of relief and joy in this city that she's been released. there's a hostp challenges. the family has been nearly bankrupted by legal fees. her grandmother has spent $250,000 of her own money and says she's drowning in debt. now the 24-year-old herself has to pick up the pieces and try to move on. she wrote she wants to spend time to help out convicts who have been wrongly imprisoned and she has a dream of being a mother one day. more on the last 24 hows and amanda knox's journey home.

>> reporter:  amanda knox's long journey home started at rome's international airport where she was whisked through the terminal escorted by security guards. and she left the country reeling from the stunning reversal of her conviction. the victim's family wanting answers. in court late monday night, there was emotional relief. but outside, there was visible anger at a verdict many see as bending to american influence. the media village outside the perugia courthouse is being dismantled. even as the prosecutor said he will appeal the verdict to italy's highest criminal court. knox will not be returning to italy any time soon. it will take months for the paperwork to move through the italian judicial system. even if the appeal is granted, knox is not questioned to return to italy to attend court. rudy guede did not act alone, say the police. that leaves them asking, who else killed meredith kercher.

>> we are now left wondering who is the other responsible people.

>> reporter:  there were no winners.

>> in the end, there was no tragedy. a tragedy of a young girl found dead, as well as two young kids that have been in jail for four years with no reason.

>> reporter:  amanda knox was a 20-year-old exchange student when she arrived in italy looking for the experience of a lifetime. four years later she left with more experience than most people get in a lifetime. keith miller, nbc news, perugia.