Katherine Mary Knight (born 24 October 1955)
was the first Australian woman to be sentenced to life imprisonment
without parole. She was convicted of the murder of her partner, John
Charles Thomas Price (born 6 January 1955) in October 2001, and is
currently detained in Silverwater Women's Correctional Centre.
Originally from the town of Aberdeen in New South
Wales' Hunter Valley, Barbara Roughan (Née Thorley) was forced to move
to Moree after beginning a relationship with Ken Knight, a co-worker
of her husband Jack Roughan. The Roughan and Knight families were both
well known in the conservative rural town and the affair was a major
scandal. Two of Roughan’s four children remained with their father
while the two youngest were sent to live with an aunt in Sydney.
Katherine Knight was the younger of twins born to
Barbara and her de facto partner Ken on 24 October 1955 in
Tenterfield, New South Wales. Jack Roughan died in 1959 and the two
children who had lived with him moved in with the Knight family.
Barbara’s grandmother was apparently an Indigenous Australian from the
Moree area who had married an Irishman. She was proud of this fact and
liked to think of her own family as Aboriginal. This was kept a family
secret, as there was considerable racism in the area at the time and
this was a source of tension for the children. Apart from her twin,
the only person Knight was close to was her uncle Oscar Knight who was
a champion horseman. She was devastated when he committed suicide in
1969 and continues to maintain that his ghost visits her. The family
moved back to Aberdeen the same year.
Knight’s father Ken was an alcoholic who openly
used violence and intimidation to rape her mother up to ten times a
day. Barbara in turn often told her daughters intimate details of her
sex life and how much she hated sex and men (Later, when Knight
complained to her mother that one of her partners wanted her to take
part in a sex act she didn’t want to do, Barbara told her to "put up
with it and stop complaining"). Knight claims she was frequently
sexually abused by several members of her family (though not by her
father), which continued until she was 11. Although they have minor
doubts about the details, psychiatrists accept her claim as all her
family members confirmed the abuse did happen.
Katherine was by all accounts a pleasant girl who
experienced uncontrollably murderous rages in response to minor
upsets. When she attended Muswellbrook high school, she became a loner
and is remembered by classmates as a bully who stood over smaller
children. She assaulted at least one boy at school with a weapon and
was once injured by a teacher who was found to have acted in
self-defense. By contrast, when not in a rage Knight was a model
student and often earned awards for her good behavior.
On leaving school at 15, without having learned to
read or write, she gained employment as a cutter in a clothing
factory. Twelve months later she left to start what she referred to as
her "dream job", cutting up offal at the local abattoir from where she
was quickly promoted to boning and given her own set of butcher
knives. At home she hung the knives over her bed so that they "would
always be handy if I needed them", a habit she continued - until her
incarceration - everywhere she lived.
Katherine first met hard drinking co-worker David
Stanford Kellett in 1973 and completely dominated him, if Kellett got
into a fight at the hotel Knight would step in and back him up with
her fists without fail. In Aberdeen she was renowned for offering
armed combat to anyone who upset her.
Knight married Kellett in 1974, at her request,
with the couple arriving at the service on her motorcycle with a very
intoxicated Kellett on the pillion. As soon as they arrived Knight’s
mother Barbara gave Kellett some advice:
"The old girl said to me to watch out. 'You
better watch this one or she'll fucking kill you. Stir her up the
wrong way or do the wrong thing and you're fucked, don't ever think
of playing up on her, she'll fuckin' kill you.' And that was her
mother talking! She told me she's got something loose, She's got a
screw loose somewhere."
On their wedding night she tried to strangle him.
Knight explained it was because he fell asleep after only having
intercourse three times.
The marriage was particularly violent and on one
occasion a heavily pregnant Knight burned all Kellet's clothing and
shoes before hitting him across the back of the head with a frying
pan, simply because he had arrived home late from a darts competition
after making the finals. In fear for his life, Kellet fled before
collapsing in a neighbors house and he was later treated for a badly
fractured skull. Police wanted to charge her but Knight was now on her
best behaviour and talked Kellet into dropping the charges.
In May 1976, shortly after the birth of their first
child, Melissa Ann, Kellett left her for another woman and moved to
Queensland, apparently unable to cope with Knight's possessive,
violent behavior. The next day Knight was seen pushing her new baby in
a pram down the main street, violently throwing the pram from side to
side. Knight was admitted to St Elmo's Hospital in Tamworth where she
was diagnosed with postnatal depression and spent several weeks
recovering. After being released, Knight placed two month old Melissa
on a railway line shortly before the train was due, then stole an axe,
went into town and threatened to kill several people. A man known in
the district as "Old Ted", who was foraging near the railway line,
found and rescued Melissa, by all accounts only minutes before the
train passed. Knight was arrested and again taken to St Elmo's
Hospital but, apparently recovered, signed herself out the following
A few days later Knight slashed the face of a woman
with one of her knives and demanded she drive her to Queensland to
find Kellett. The woman escaped after they stopped at a service
station but by the time police arrived Knight had taken a little boy
hostage and was threatening him with the knife. She was disarmed when
police attacked her with brooms and she was admitted to the Morisset
Psychiatric Hospital. Knight told the nurses she had intended to kill
the mechanic at the service station because he had repaired Kellett’s
car, which had allowed him to leave, and then kill both her husband
and his mother when she arrived in Queensland. When police informed
Kellett of the incident he left his girlfriend and along with his
mother, they both moved to Aberdeen to support her.
Knight was released on 9 August 1976 into the care
of her mother-in-law and along with Kellett, they now moved to
Woodridge, a suburb of Brisbane, where she obtained a job at the
Dinmore meatworks in nearby Ipswich. On 6 March 1980, they had another
daughter, Natasha Maree. In 1984 Knight left Kellett and moved in,
first with her parents in Aberdeen, then to a rented house in nearby
Muswellbrook. Although she returned to work at the abattoir, she
injured her back the following year and went on a disability pension.
No longer needing to rent accommodation close to her work the
government gave her a Housing Commission house in Aberdeen.
Knight met 38-year-old miner David Saunders in
1986. A few months later he moved in with her and her two daughters
although he kept his old apartment in Scone. Knight soon became
jealous regarding what he did when she was not around and would often
throw him out. He would move back to his apartment in Scone and then
she would invariably follow and beg him to return.
In May 1987 she cut the throat of his two-month-old
dingo pup in front of him for no more reason than as an example of
what would happen if he ever had an affair before going on to knock
him unconscious with a frying pan.
In June 1988 she gave birth to her third daughter
Sarah, which prompted Saunders to put a deposit on a house, which
Knight paid off when her workers' compensation came through in 1989.
Knight decorated the house throughout with animal skins, skulls,
horns, rusty animal traps, leather jackets, old boots, machetes, rakes
and pitchforks. No space, including the ceilings, was left uncovered.
After an argument where she hit Saunders in the
face with an iron before stabbing him in the stomach with a pair of
scissors, he moved back to Scone, but when he later returned home
found she had cut up all his clothes. Saunders took long service leave
and went into hiding. Knight tried to find him but no one admitted to
knowing where he was. Several months later he returned to see his
daughter and found that Knight had gone to the police and told them
she was afraid of him. They issued her with an Apprehended Violence
Order (AVO) against him.
In 1990 Knight became pregnant by a 43-year-old
former abattoir co-worker, John Chillingworth and gave birth the
following year to a boy they named Eric. Their relationship lasted
three years before she left him for a man she had been having an
affair with for some time, John Price.
John "Pricey" Price was the father of three
children when Knight had an affair with him. Reputedly a "terrific
bloke" liked by everyone who knew him, his own marriage had ended in
1988. While his two-year-old daughter had remained with his former
wife, the two older children lived with him. Price was well aware of
Knight's violent reputation and she moved into his house in 1995. His
children liked her, he was making a lot of money working in the local
mines and, apart from violent arguments, at first "life was a bunch of
In 1998 they had a fight over Price’s refusal to
marry her and in retaliation Knight videotaped items he had stolen
from work and sent the tape to his boss. Although the items were out
of date medical kits that he had scavenged from the company rubbish
tip, Price was fired from the job he had held for 17 years. That same
day he kicked her out and she returned to her own home while news of
what she had done spread through the town.
A few months later Price restarted the relationship
although he now refused to allow her to move in with him. The fighting
became even more frequent and most of his friends would no longer have
anything to do with him while they remained together.
In February 2000, a series of assaults on Price
culminated with Knight stabbing Price in the chest. Finally fed up, he
kicked her out of his house. On 29 February he stopped at the Scone
Magistrate's Court on his way to work and took out a restraining order
to keep her away from both him and his children. That afternoon Price
told his co-workers that if he did not come to work the next day, it
would be because Knight had killed him. They pleaded with him not to
go home but he told them that he believed she would kill his children
if he did not. Price arrived home to find that Knight, although not
there herself, had sent the children away for a sleep-over at a
friend's house. He then spent the evening with his neighbors before
going to bed at 11pm. Earlier that day, Knight had bought new black
lingerie and had videotaped all her children while making comments
which have since been interpreted as a crude will. Knight later
arrived at Price's house while he was sleeping and sat watching TV for
a few minutes before having a shower. She then woke Price and they had
sex after which he fell asleep.
At 6am the next morning the neighbor became
concerned that Price's car was still in the driveway and when Price
did not arrive at work, his employer sent a worker to see what was
wrong. Both the neighbor and worker tried knocking on Price's bedroom
window to wake him but after noticing blood on the front door alerted
the police who arrived at 8am. Breaking down the back door police
found his body with Knight comatose from taking a large number of
pills. She had stabbed Price with a butcher's knife while he was
sleeping. According to the blood evidence, he awoke and tried to turn
the light on before attempting to escape while Knight chased him
through the house, he managed to open the front door and get outside
but either stumbled back inside or was dragged back into the hallway
where he finally died after bleeding out. Later, Knight went into
Aberdeen and withdrew $1,000 from Price's ATM account.
Price's autopsy revealed that he had been stabbed
at least 37 times, in both the front and back of his body with many of
the wounds extending into vital organs. Several hours after Price had
died, Knight skinned him and hung the skin from a meat hook on the
architrave of a door to the lounge room.
She then decapitated him and cooked parts of his
body, serving up the meat with baked potato, pumpkin, zucchini,
cabbage, yellow squash and gravy in two settings at the dinner table,
along with notes beside each plate, each having the name of one of
Price's children on it; she was preparing to serve his body parts to
A third meal was thrown on the back lawn for
unknown reasons and it is speculated Knight had attempted to eat it
but could not and this has been put forward in support of her claim
that she has no memory of the crime. Price's head was found in a pot
with vegetables. The pot was still warm, estimated to be at between 40
and 50 degrees Celsius, indicating that the cooking had taken place in
the early morning. Sometime later Knight arranged the body with the
left arm draped over an empty 1.25 litre soft drink bottle with the
legs crossed. This was claimed in court to be an act of defilement
demonstrating Knight’s contempt for Price. Knight had left a hand
written note on top of a photograph of Price. Blood stained and
covered with small pieces of flesh the note read:
Time got you back Johathon for rapping [raping]
my douter [daughter]. You to Beck [Price's daughter] for Ross — for
Little John [his son]. Now play with little Johns Dick John Price.
The accusations in the note were found to be
Knight's initial offer to plead guilty to
manslaughter was rejected and she was arraigned on 2 February 2001 on
the charge of murdering Price, to which she entered a plea of not
guilty. Her trial was initially fixed for 23 July 2001 but was
adjourned due to her counsel's illness and it was re-fixed for 15
When the trial commenced, Justice Barry O'Keefe
offered the 60 jury prospects the option of being excused due to the
nature of the photographic evidence which five accepted. When the
witness list was read out to the prospects several more also dropped
out after which the jury was empanelled. Knight's attorneys then spoke
to the judge who adjourned to the following day; the next morning,
Knight changed her plea to guilty, and the jury was dismissed. It was
now made public that Justice O'Keefe had been advised of the plea
change the day before. He had adjourned the trial and then ordered a
psychiatric assessment overnight to determine if Knight understood the
consequences of a guilty plea and was fit to make such a plea.
Knight's legal team had planned to defend Knight by claiming amnesia
and dissociation, a claim supported by most psychiatrists although
they did consider her sane.
No reason has ever been given for the guilty plea,
and despite giving it, Knight still refused to accept responsibility
for her actions. At the sentencing hearing, Knight's lawyers requested
that Knight be excused to avoid hearing some of the facts, but the
application was refused. When Dr. Timothy Lyons took the stand and
described the skinning and decapitation, Knight became hysterical and
had to be sedated.
On 8 November, Justice O'Keefe pointed out that the
nature of the crime and Knight's lack of remorse required a severe
penalty; he sentenced her to life imprisonment, refused to fix a
non-parole period and ordered that her papers be marked "never to be
released", the first time that this had been imposed on a woman in
In June 2006, Knight appealed the life sentence,
claiming that a penalty of life in jail without possibility of parole
was too severe for the killing. Justices Peter McClellan, Michael
Adams and Megan Latham dismissed the appeal in the NSW Court of
Criminal Appeal in September, with Justice McClellan writing in his
judgement "This was an appalling crime, almost beyond contemplation in
a civilized society."
Katherine Mary Knight
On November 9, 2001 Katherine Mary
Knight was given the harshest sentence possible in Australian Law.
Knight was the first woman ever in Australia's history to be sentenced
to life in prison with her file marked "never to be released".
Her crime was the vicious murder and
defilement of the body of her de facto husband John Price. The
murderous plan was decided when John Price called the police on the
Sunday before his death, following an argument with Knight and taking
out an apprehended violence order against her.
Knight was a not a woman to cross,
ex-lovers and family members came forward at the murder trial to
explain the violence that the woman was capable of. Knight's
ex-husband told the packed court that Knight had one cut the throat of
his eight-week-old puppy. Another time, she sent film of a stolen
first aid kit to John Price's boss at work. Price's boss fired him for
the theft immediately after seeing the footage.
Knight was portrayed as a vindictive
and cruel woman, who harmed everyone who crossed her. Yet to look at
her sitting in the dock during the trial many commented that she
looked like anyone's mother. A meek and mild looking woman who hid the
facade of a monster.
Once Price had rung the police
Knight began planning his demise. She went out and bought a sexy black
nightie for the evening, as well putting a butcher's knife in the
bedroom. She also made sure she had the right pots for his head and
that her knives were sharp enough for the event. Even planning the
murder and mutilation were a pleasurable feeling for the woman.
On Tuesday February 29, 2000 Knight
murdered 44-year-old John Charles Thomas Price. The couple had
"pleasurable sex" in the bedroom of Mr Price's home in the outer
Newcastle suburb of Aberdeen. After copulation, Knight inflicted the
first of 37 stab wounds. She grabbed the butcher's knife that she had
previously placed near the bed for this reason and stabbed the
Price saw the horror in Knight's
eyes and attempted to flee the house. He managed to get outside of the
home only to be dragged in by the maniacally deranged Knight. Once
John was back inside the house his de fact wife then proceeded to stab
him a further 36 times. Knight enjoyed the killing. As the judge,
Justice O'Keefe, presiding over her trial claimed,
"The last minutes of his (John
Price) life must have been a time of abject terror for him as they
were a time of utter enjoyment for her...she has not expressed any
contrition or remorse and if released she poses a serious threat to
the security of society."
Once John was dead, Knight then
methodically proceeded to skin the corpse, taking off the entire skin,
including the face, ears, scalp and neck like a macabre suit. Knight
only left a small inch square of skin on the body. The square had the
scar from where she had stabbed him previously. The suit of skin,
something harking back to the thriller Silence of the Lambs was
then hung up in the entrance way of the house.
The skin was removed so expertly,
Knight had worked in the abattoirs as a meat slicer for many years and
had planned to use her skills to remove the skin of John the way she
Once the skin had been removed,
Knight then continued to defile the body of her lover by chopping of
the skinned head and cooking it in a big pot on the cook top. Knight
then peeled and chopped up vegetables and along with slices she
removed from the man's buttocks served them up as steak and vegetables
for the man's son and daughter along with spiteful notes.
Knight took time and painstakingly
defiled the body of her lover. Her pure enjoyment of killing and
torturing the dead body put her down as one of the cruelest in the
annals of Australia's criminal history .
During the trial one of Australia's
foremost criminal psychologists, Dr Milton was asked to discuss his
findings after interviewing Knight. Dr Milton said that Knight
suffered from borderline personality disorder, but knew exactly what
she was doing on the evening of February, 2000.
Concluding the Newcastle Supreme
court trial Justice O"Keefe stated
"Katherine Mary Knight, you have
pleaded guilty and been convicted of the murder of John Charles
Price at Aberdeen on or about February 29, 2000, in respect of your
crime, I sentence you to imprisonment for life."
Looking back over Ms Knight's life,
there was so many indications that she would one day commit murder,
however over the years people had gotten used to the woman's erratic
behaviour and just put it down as being how she was.
The woman known to Aberdeen
residents as the "Black Knight" was born on October 24, 1955. She was
one of two twin girls born to her parents, along with 6 brothers.
Katherine did not stay at school very long and left it as soon as she
could almost illiterate. Most people from Aberdeen remember Katherine
Knight as a young girl who was happy and friendly when she was in a
good mood, but a person most others stayed away from when she was in
one of her dark moods.
In 1974 at the tender age of 18
Katherine began working at the local slaughterhouse, where her role
was to decapitate the pigs. Katherine took great interest in her job
and would often wander over to start of the production line and watch
the pigs actually having their throats cut. Other employees found her
macabre interest a little strange but just assumed she was just
looking at other areas of the job.
Around the same time the young woman
married David Kellett however from the very beginning of the marriage
it was a violent and unhappy marriage. On the young couple's wedding
night, Katherine attempted to strangle her new husband to death after
he failed to perform up to her sexual expectations. From that point on
David always was weary of his bride. One day after coming home a
little late, Katherine met him at the house's front door. As David
opened the door, Katherine swung the hot edge of the iron at him,
scalding the side of the man's face and leaving the iron's pattern
across his cheek.
At work the next day, David had to
secretly seek medical assistance. Had he done so the night of the
attack, Katherine would have known he would have told the doctors and
the police may have been called. Had the police been called, Katherine
may have been perturbed then to prevent further attacks. But it was
only to be the beginning of a life of attacking people who got in her
In 1976 the couple had a baby
daughter, but Katherine held little regard for the girl. A story going
around Aberdeen is that one day when Katherine was in one of her
moods, she began attacking others in the neighbourhood, even grabbing
an axe from a woodpile in one resident's yard and swinging it at
anyone who came near her.
Later the same day her newborn baby
daughter was found on the train-tracks awaiting a train. Ted Abrahams,
one of the elderly residents of Aberdeen found the baby only minutes
before a train was due to arrive. Katherine seemed impassive to the
demise of her child. Though no-one could ever prove it, they knew she
had put the baby on the tracks. Yet again, strangely the woman was not
reported to the authorities.
Another case of her unprovoked
violence is the attack on then 16 year old Margaret Macbeth. Margaret
became embroiled in an argument with Katherine and was cut severely
across her face. Margaret required hospitalisation and stitches.
Finally, Katherine was interviewed
by police following the attack and sent to Morriset psychiatric
hospital for assessment. She told tales of woe to anyone who would
listen. She told them how she was physically abused by her husband.
Yet David remembers the situation as the other way around. She was the
one who would attack him at whim. David Kellett recalls at her murder
trial that she was "unpredictably violent" a phrase that would come up
again and again when people described Katherine.
Once she was out of hospital again
she attacked. This time the victim was a police officer who was
stabbed by the woman. Yet Katherine was let off any charges because
people knew that that was how she was.
David Kellett remembers another
scene, one that came horrifyingly true for another man. One morning he
woke to find Katherine sitting astride his chest. A knife in her hand,
grazing David's throat. Katherine just laughed at him saying how easy
it could have been for her to kill him. Yet many years later she
proved herself right when she killed her lover John Price in the same
In 1980, the couple had another
Katherine was always worried that
her truck driving husband had a girlfriend in "every port" and in one
of her jealous rages burned all the clothes he owned. To try and
appease his wife, he suggested the two of them move to Queensland,
leaving the girls with their maternal grandmother. The couple lived in
Beaudesert for a short-while. Katherine found work easily at an
abattoir in the region, but soon the marriage completely failed and
she returned home to her girls and her parent's house in Aberdeen.
Once she got herself organised,
Katherine bought herself a home in near-by McQueen Street and did it
up to her taste. Yet it terrified many of the children in the area
with farming equipment and plush toys in unusual places. She even had
a scythe hanging from a rope above the lounge suite.
In 1987 Katherine had found herself
another lover. This time it was divorcee David Saunders. According to
his ex-wife and others, David Saunders was a nice and polite man, a
man who was not prone to violence. Yet according to Katherine, he did
abuse her. She recalls he once punched her in the stomach while she
was supposedly pregnant with his child. It was after this incident
that she slit his puppy's throat. But David claims that she was just
prone to violent attacks and killed the puppy to upset him, not as a
retaliation as Katherine claimed.
Just before Katherine broke off the
relationship she vandalised David's car and then took an overdose of
sleeping pills. She was then admitted to a psychiatric hospital for
observations once more.
In May 1990 when Katherine returned
to society she found herself in the arms of a new man. John
Chillingworth was a recovering alcoholic and soon the couple had a
baby together. John does admit to hitting her once, it was after she
had pushed him too far after smacking his glasses off his face and
breaking his false teeth in his mouth. The relationship did not last
In 1994 Katherine Knight met John
Price, "Pricey" to those who knew him. John was an average aussie who
worked hard and enjoyed the occasional Toohey's New. It was on March
1, 2001 when he failed to arrive at work that the alarm bells started
to ring for those who knew him. He never missed work and so his boss
began to ring around to make sure he was ok.
However by this time, Katherine had
murdered and de-skinned the man's body and served it up to his
By Paul B. Kidd
Knight was not the first person to skin and eat her lover. A long line
of killer-cannibals preceded her.
In Wisconsin in
1957, after having sex with decomposing cadavers and skinning them, Ed
Gein would eat the body parts. When the sheriffs eventually caught up
with the mild-mannered hillbilly on his farm, they found the headless
body of a woman who had been gutted and dressed like a deer hanging
from the rafters, a human heart in the frying pan ready for lunch and
a refrigerator stocked with body parts wrapped in paper.
also found lampshades and facemasks made out of human skin, a soup
dish made from a hollowed out human skull and a belt made of nipples
and human skin slippers.
Ed confessed that
he liked dancing around in the farmyard by the light of the moon with
a real woman's torso, tanned like shoe leather and oiled to keep it
supple, strapped around his middle. Needless to say, farmer Ed was
locked away at the state mental facility in the room with no corners,
a high ceiling and the walls coated with thick rubber until he died in
in 1986, 42-year-old army pensioner Gary Heidnik kidnapped women and
kept them chained up in his cellar as sex slaves, eventually murdering
some of them and eating their remains. Heidnik kept as many as five
women in his cellar at a time until one escaped and called the cops.
What police found
in Heidnik's cellar defies imagination. Four young women who had been
repeatedly tortured, raped and beaten, sat chained in filth and
squalor in the dungeon with a young woman's head in a pot in the
kitchen and human ribs in a roasting dish that was presumably going to
be their's and Gary's dinner.
But long before Ed Gein and Gary Heidnik shocked the
world with their culinary preferences, people had been murdering and
eating each other. Back in 1570, an evil bit of work named Peter Stump
roamed the German countryside, faithfully aided and abetted by his
mistress and daughter, in search of young women to tear to shreds to
satisfy his bloodlust for human flesh.
Stump had also
eaten a freshly born baby that was the result of his incestuous
relationship with his daughter. Urged on by the two women, in five
years Stump murdered 15 women and children and ravenously ate their
hearts while they were hot, along with other body parts.
caught, the law's retribution for the evil trio was almost as barbaric
as their crimes. Stump's body was tied to a cartwheel and the flesh
was pulled from his bones with red hot pincers. Still alive, his arms
and legs were then broken with a wooden hatchet and he was beheaded.
His headless corpse was then burned alongside his mistress and
The Dark Past
past isn't without cannibalism either. In 1822 convict Alexander
Pearce escaped from the Hell's Gates penal settlement in southern
Tasmania with seven other prisoners.
After a few days in the freezing conditions three of the escapees
returned to prison leaving the others to systematically murder and eat
one another to survive.
Finally it came
down to two men, Pearce and Robert Greenhill, who stalked each other
until Pearce outwitted Greenhill and killed him with an axe and ate
him. Pearce was eventually captured and returned to prison where,
incredibly, he wasn't sentenced to death for escaping or the ensuing
But the next time
Pearce wasn't so fortunate when he persuaded fellow convict Thomas Cox
to escape with him. Once on the outside, Pearce killed Cox and ate him
too. Alexander Pearce was hanged in Hobart
The "Werewolf of
Hannover," Fritz Haarmann, delighted in killing his victims by biting
through their throats while raping them and gorging on the meat and
blood. In cohorts with another depraved homosexual deviant, Hans
Grans, the pair abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered as many as
50 transient young men in Germany between
1919 and 1924.
In his lucrative
profession as a dealer in secondhand clothes and meat, Haarmann was in
a perfect position to capitalize on Germany's recent crushing defeat
in World War I by giving his starving fellow Germans exactly what they
wanted... fresh meat.
customers, who were delighted with their lovely cuts of veal and hind
quarters of lamb, must have wondered where they came from in such grim
times, but not in their wildest dreams did they think that they were
from the two youths a week that Haarmann and Grans were raping,
murdering and cutting up for sale. Haarmann was beheaded in 1924.
No crimes in
history were more abhorrent than those of deranged 64-year-old house
painter Albert Fish. Passing himself off as an innocuous, benevolent
little old man, Fish abducted, molested, tortured, castrated and ate
at least 16 children in New York and all over the USA between
What made Fish's
crimes so ghastly was that he was a prolific writer and his jottings
included a letter to the parents of a little girl telling them in
detail how he murdered, dissected, cooked and ate their daughter. This
letter would be his undoing.
Born in 1870,
Albert Fish was a devout Christian who married in 1898, fathering six
children. When his wife eloped in 1917, Albert's latent perversions
boiled to the surface and he began indulging in coprophilia (eating
human excreta), inserting alcohol soaked cotton wool balls in his anus
and lighting them, getting his children to beat him bloody with a
nail-studded paddle and inserting needles into his genitals.
In 1928, in
response to an advertisement, Fish, calling himself Frank Howard,
called on the Budd family in New York,
taking with him cheese and strawberries. While their 12-year-old
daughter Gracie was sitting on the cuddly old man's lap he was
fantasizing about eating her. Fish convinced the Budds to let him take
Gracie to a local children's party. That was the last they would see
Six years later,
in 1934, the Budd family received a letter which read in part;
I took Gracie
to an empty house in the country. I grabbed her and she said she would
tell her mamma. First I stripped her naked. How she did kick, bite and
scratch. I choked her to death, then cut her into small pieces so I
could take my meat to my rooms, cook it and eat it. How sweet and
tender her little ass was roasted in the oven. It took me nine days to
eat her entire body. I did not fuck her though I could have had I
wished. She died a virgin.
The letter was
traced to Fish and hardened police retched as Albert described to them
how he had cooked and eaten another little boy's buttocks: "I put
strips of bacon over each cheek and put it in the oven," he said.
"When the meat was roasted for about a quarter of an hour, I poured a
pint of water over for gravy and put in the onions. At frequent
intervals I basted with a wooden spoon so the meat would be nice and
juicy. In two hours it was nice and brown. I never ate any turkey that
tasted half as good as his sweet, fat little behind did. I ate every
bit of the meat in about four days."
Albert Fish was
delighted to die in the electric chair, describing it as the "ultimate
experience in pain" and went to his death like a man going to a
picnic, even helping them strap him in.
And no doubt to Albert Fish's eternal pleasure, the
metal pins and needles self-embedded in his genitals and scrotum
caused the electric chair to short circuit and the first charge failed
to kill him. Amid wisps of blue smoke Albert was sent smiling to his
maker with the second charge.
Over a 21-year
period from 1955 to 1976 Joachim Kroll murdered, mutilated and had sex
with the corpses of at least 14 young women and children throughout
Germany. After he had had his way with their bodies he would cook them
up and eat them, the younger the better. When captured he told police
that he loved the meat of young children as it fell off the bone and
he said it was of much better quality than the meat available in the
West German butcher shops.
searched Kroll's foul-smelling apartment, in the refrigerator they
found pieces of human flesh on a plate. Scattered around the lounge
room were putrefying bags of human flesh, stripped from his victim's
bones with a butcher's knife. On the stove was a simmering vegetable
stew with a tiny human hand in it. Joachim Kroll was declared a mental
defective, placed in a mental asylum never to be released.
Of all of the
modern day cannibal killers, 56-year-old Andrei Chikatilo, who, in a
24-year killing career in Russia that saw
the horrific deaths and cannibalization of 53 victims, mainly
children, was by far the most prolific. Like Kroll, Chikatilo was a
necrophiliac in that his victims had to be dead before he could have
sex with them.
Blaming his lust
for human flesh on the fact that as a boy he witnessed his younger
brother being eaten alive by villagers in a famine, Chikatilo selected
his victims from the runaways and young prostitutes that hung around
bus and train stations. Once he had lured his victims into the nearby
woods on the promise of a meal or money, he would set upon them and
hack them to death, rape the corpse and then disembowel his victim and
ravage the warm internal body parts.
The fact that
Chikatilo was an average-looking school teacher allowed him to blend
in with the crowds at the busy venues where he selected his victims
and even though he was questioned nine times about the murders, twice
near the scene of a murder (once he was carrying a knife in his bag)
incredibly, police let him go.
eventually caught and executed with a single bullet to the back of the
head in 1994. At his trial people fainted in horror as he told in
graphic details how he boiled and ate the sawn-off nipples and
testicles of his victims. Chikatilo is the subject of the movie
The best known
real life cannibal of modern times is Jeffrey Dahmer, which isn't
surprising. Dahmer was a monster beyond the wildest imagination. A
handsome young man who wouldn't have had a problem in the world
acquiring any amount of normal sexual partners, Dahmer was a
necrophiliac, homosexual serial killer and cannibal whose perversions
From 1988 to
1991, Dahmer, a 28-year-old chocolate factory worker, slaughtered 17
young men, raped and mutilated their corpses and then cut them up and
ate their body parts.
to having sex with the bodies of the dead men as well as their
decapitated heads and mutilated torsos. He pointed out to police that
he always wore a condom when having sex with his dead partners or
their body parts. Better to be safe than sorry, he said. Jeffrey
Dahmer was sent to prison for 1,070 years and was murdered several
years later by another inmate.
's Katherine Mary Knight has deservedly earned her place on this
depraved roll-call of humanity.
Until March 1, 2000, sleepy Aberdeen, situated on the
New England Highway 266 kilometers north-northwest of Sydney,
population 1,750, was best known as the birthplace of the blue heeler
cattle dog, the canine icon that is as much a part of Australian
folklore as the emu, koala and kangaroo.
any more. These days Aberdeen is known as
the home of Katherine Knight, arguably the most depraved monster in
Australia 's grizzly homicidal history.
Visitors to Aberdeen are now far more interested in ogling the
single-story, three-bedroom bungalow at number 84 Andrews Street,
where a murder and other unspeakable acts took place, and pondering
what would cause the middle-aged housewife, mother and grandmother to
perpetrate such evil.
Childhood & Slaughterhouses
Katherine Mary Knight was born half an hour after her
twin sister Joy at Tenterfield Hospital in northwestern New South
Wales on October 24, 1955. Her mother Barbara already had four boys,
Patrick, Martin, Neville and Barry, by a previous marriage and another
son, Charlie, with Katherine's father Ken.
Another son, Shane, would follow in 1961.
When Barbara's previous marriage broke up the two older
boys, Patrick and Martin, had stayed with their father, Jack Roughan,
and the two younger lads, Neville and Barry, went to live with an aunt
in Sydney. When Jack Roughan died in
1959, Patrick and Martin went to live with their mother.
Ken Knight was an abattoir slaughterman who travelled
with his family throughout Queensland and
New South Wales applying his
back-breaking trade in 12-hour shifts at Wallangarra, Gunnedah,
Tenterfield and Moree and wherever the work was to be found. Ken and
Barbara and their six children eventually settled in
Aberdeen in 1969 where there was steady
work at the local abattoir.
From all accounts young Katherine was a loving little
girl who was kind to animals, and her only brush with retribution was
as a 13-year-old when she appeared before the Children's Court on a
minor charge and received a good behavior bond.
Given her lifelong environment, it's hardly surprising
that all Katherine Knight wanted to do when she grew up was to work in
the abattoirs. In every town she had ever lived there was a meatworks.
To her, the thick afternoon waft of the remains of the day's kill as
it was rendered into tallow must have smelled like French perfume.
At 16 she joined her father, twin sister Joy and
brother Charlie boning out carcasses at the
Aberdeen abattoir. In the predominately male domain, Katherine
became as tough as the best of them and gave as much as she got in the
boning-floor jargon that would make a wharfie blush. She was renowned
for not taking a backward step and with her knife in hand she'd
challenge anyone who offended her to armed combat to abruptly sort the
matter out. No one ever took her on. Katherine's proudest possession
was her set of razor sharp boning knives which she kept in pride of
place above her bed so she could have one last look at them at night
before nodding off to sleep, no doubt to dream about killing animals
and carving up their remains.
her future violence, it would be fair to say that it was this period
in her life that played a major role in the molding of the monster
that Katherine Knight would become.
In 1973 Katherine fell in love with 22-year-old truck
driver David Kellett and as soon as she turned 18, she moved in with
him. In 1974 they were married. A local rumor was that Katherine
attempted to strangle her husband on their wedding night when he
wouldn't repeatedly make love to her.
Later in their marriage Kellett worked at the abattoir
with Katherine and was in charge of killing the pigs. From time to
time she would drop in and watch him at work dispatching the animals
with a stun gun.
Shortly after their first child,
Melissa Ann, was born in May 1976, Kellett, unable to cope with his
wife's possessiveness and violent, moody behavior, took off with
Deeply depressed and revengeful at her spouse's
departure and with no one to take her grievances out on, Katherine
Kellett chose the closest thing to her. One day shortly after David
had left, she walked down to the local train lines and left
two-month-old Melissa in the middle of the tracks to be run over by
the next train that came along. Fortunately the infant was rescued by
a man foraging nearby who heard her crying.
Later that same day Katherine took an axe from a nearby
backyard and, swinging it wildly about her head, threatened at random
to kill several people, including an old man. She was apprehended by
police and taken to St Elmo's Hospital in Tamworth where she was
diagnosed with postnatal depression and released.
A few days later Katherine slashed the face of a woman
she knew with a butcher's knife while demanding that she take her to
David Kellett in her car. Bleeding profusely, the woman only escaped
when she pulled into a petrol station. When police responded to a
frantic call from the petrol station owner they arrived to find
Katherine holding a little boy by the front of his shirt and waving a
knife in the air.
The officers managed to drag the terrified child away
by attacking Katherine with a couple of brooms that were handy and
grabbed her when she dropped the knife and let the lad go. On the
recommendation of a local doctor, she was admitted to
Morisset Psychiatric Hospital for
treatment and detained under supervision while her baby daughter was
placed in the care of her grandparents Barbara and Ken Knight.
Police notified David Kellett, who was working as a
truck driver in Queensland, that his wife
was locked in a psychiatric ward under heavy sedation in the most
notorious mental institution in New South Wales.
With his mother Jean, Kellett drove the hundreds of kilometers to be
with his troubled wife who sparked up the minute she saw him.
On August 9, 1976,
Katherine was released into the care of her mother-in-law on the
condition that Jean see to it that she take her medication. They
collected little Melissa along the way and within a couple of weeks
Katherine and David were back living together in a rented bungalow in
Woodridge in Queensland where David drove trucks and Katherine took a
job boning at the Dinmore meatworks in Ipswich.
reunion turned out to be stormier than ever with Katherine regularly
flying into violent rages over nothing in particular, assaulting her
husband with her fists, kitchen appliances and anything else she could
lay her hands on. Yet, astonishingly, on March 6, 1980, they had
another daughter, Natasha Maree.
And then, one day in 1984, as if in answer to David
Kellett's prayers, she was gone. He came home one night from work and
the house was bare. Katherine had packed up her two daughters and
everything that wasn't nailed down and moved back to live with her
parents on their farm outside of Aberdeen.
Back working at the Aberdeen abattoir and having
resumed her maiden name, Katherine Knight didn't last long down on the
farm with the folks and soon moved out with the children to a rented
property in nearby Mussellbrook. A year later her back gave out due to
constantly bending over the carcasses at the abattoir and she had to
give up working altogether.
The government found her a Housing Commission house in
Aberdeen, which suited her because it was closer to the kids' school
and they could walk instead of having to be driven every day. With a
pension as income, all the tall, thin, attractive 30-year-old
Katherine needed was a man.
After several unsuccessful relationships since the
breakup with her husband, Katherine clicked with Dave Saunders in a
local hotel in 1986. Saunders, a 38-year-old miner from nearby
Scone was considered a good bloke whose
only problem was that he liked a drink and spent most of his time at
the hotel getting a skinful.
For all of her clandestine shortcomings such as
attacking people with knives, fists and kitchen appliances, Katherine
had a cheery and charming exterior and the ruggedly handsome Saunders
was smitten. The fact that she had a voracious sexual appetite was the
icing on the cake.
Things went along lovingly for a few months. Dave
Saunders kept his apartment at Scone and
moved in with Katherine and her two daughters. It didn't take long for
the green-eyed monster to come out in Katherine and she was constantly
falsely accusing Saunders of having affairs with other women. From
then on they were always at each other's throats. Katherine would
throw her man out of her house, but no sooner had he arrived back at
his place in Scone then she would be knocking on the door begging his
forgiveness and asking him to come back — which he always did.
It wasn't long before the fights got violent, with
Kath, who was taller than Dave, attacking him with her fists and
boots. In May 1987 she let him know what would happen to him if he
ever played up with another woman by slitting his two-month-old pup's
throat from ear to ear with a boning knife before taking to him with a
frying pan and bashing him into unconsciousness.
despite all of this and Katherine's continuing bizarre behavior, which
included a suicide attempt, Dave's love proved unfailing and in June
the following year Kath gave birth to her third child, a girl they
Passion for Dead Animals
With the arrival of the new baby, a calm settled over
the little family of the mother, three girls and the de-facto father,
so much so that Dave put a deposit on a tiny house in Aberdeen which
Kath paid off in full when her worker's compensation came through in
Considering that, outside of her children, the tiny two
bedroom weatherboard house on MacQueen Street, Aberdeen, was the first
real possession that the feral Katherine Knight had ever owned in her
life, it's hardly surprising that she decorated it the way she had
always dreamed of. With her passion. Dead animals.
The walls were covered in cow hides, water buffalo and
steer horns, old-fashioned fur wraps, cow and sheep skulls and deer's
antlers. Prominently displayed was a stuffed peacock and baby deer.
Among the other bric-a-brac adorning the walls and hanging from the
rafters were a huge wooden fork and spoon, rusted animal traps,
leather coats and motorcycle jackets, a rusted rake and pitchfork, a
riding boot and crop and a saddle. Every available space was filled
with old newspapers, clothes and books. The extensive video collection
dealt predominately with horror and death.
It was a museum of Katherine Knight 's fantasies.
There's no place like home.
But as blissful as it was in paradise, what with the
new baby and the new house filled with Katherine's treasures,
predictably it didn't last. In the new bout of exchanges Kath battered
Dave over the head with an iron and allegedly stabbed him with a pair
of scissors. When he returned to the love-nest after a week in Scone
after a horrific fight, he was invited in only to find that she had
cut all of his clothes to shreds and taken them to the rubbish tip.
This time Dave Saunders decided he'd had enough. He
took his long service leave from the mines and gave all of his old
drinking haunts a miss. Despite Kath's frantic efforts to find him she
had no luck. His mates knew where he was, but they certainly weren't
going to deliver their mate back to the dreaded missus.
Running into brick walls everywhere, eventually she
Months later Dave returned home to MacQueen Street to
see his daughter only to find that in his absence Kath had gone to the
local police and told them that she was terrified he would return and
bash her. She got the cops to issue an Apprehended Violence Order
against him to legally keep him away from her and the kids.
didn't take Kath Knight long to find another lover, and a few months
into the relationship she was pregnant. The father was a local
knock-about, John Chillingworth, 43, who worked at the Aberdeen
meatworks and the baby, a boy named Eric, was born in 1991.
Kath's erratic on-again-off-again style saw to it that
the relationship only lasted three years (the locals were amazed that
it even lasted that long) and ended acrimoniously when Kath Knight
dumped Chillingworth for John Price, an Aberdeen local she had been
having an affair with behind Chillingworth's back for some time.
Although distraught at the time, as it turned out the
spurned John Chillingworth was the luckiest bloke on the planet. He
would overcome his broken heart, get off the booze and do something
constructive with his life. But by taking up with the wicked witch of
Aberdeen, John Price had signed his own
From all accounts John "Pricey" Price was a terrific
bloke who'd give you his left arm if you needed it and was liked by
everyone who knew him. He'd been married and had three kids when the
marriage broke up in 1988. His wife took the youngest, a 2-year-old
girl when she left and he ended up with a teenage boy and girl to look
after. He owned a three-bedroom brick bungalow on St. Andrews Street
in Aberdeen and brought home a good
salary from working in the local mines. The family wanted for nothing.
Pricey met Katherine Knight at a local hotel in 1993
and, at 38, they were the same age, and it wasn't long before they
were an "item" around town. He went into the relationship with his
eyes wide open. He had heard all of the rumors about the way she
treated her men but chose to ignore them.
The relationship started out the same as all of Kath's
previous liaisons. She was the devoted, loving spouse who cooked and
sewed and picked her man up and drove him home from the hotel when he
couldn't walk. Plus she was hot in the sack. His kids got along
famously with her brood and life was a bunch of roses. But it didn't
take long for the cracks to show. The accusations of infidelity, the
fights, separations and the inevitable getting-back together.
In late 1995 Kath moved in with Pricey at the family
house on St. Andrews Street. It must have seemed like living in
Buckingham Palace after her crammed
little cottage with the dead animals on the walls. The drinking
escalated and so did the fighting. They could be seen at each others'
throats in the street outside the front of their respective houses and
at any of the local hotels where they drank. It was all fun and games
one minute and they were giving each other a gobfull the next.
In 1998 Kath showed Pricey's bosses at the mines a
videotape she had secretly recorded at home of some items that Pricey
had allegedly stolen from work. Kath maintained that she recorded the
tape as revenge over a fight about his ongoing refusal to marry her.
They had come to blows and he had belted her. She had planned on
showing the tape to Pricey to use as blackmail against him. But after
another horrendous fight, she decided to go one step further and show
it to his employers.
Although the items on the tape were past their "used
by" date or considered to be rubbish and scavenged from the company
tip, it was enough to get Pricey sacked from the job that he had loved
for 17 years.
The same day Pricey booted her out of his home and she
fled back to her tiny chamber of horrors in
MacQueen Street. The story of her viciousness spread through
the tiny township like a bushfire fanned by gale force winds. Given
her track record, it didn't surprise a soul.
When Pricey took Kath back a few months later — though
he didn't move her back into his house — he lost a lot of friends who
now wouldn't have anything to do with him when she was in his company.
fights resumed with renewed venom. They would get drunk and argue over
her getting him sacked from the mine. Then it was on for all to see.
It was plain to even a deaf and blind mute that while they couldn't
live with or without each other, that something awful was going to
It was just a matter of time.
The Wicked Witch
It wasn't long before Kath had free reign of Pricey's
house again. But it didn't help matters in the least. The arguments
escalated in violence and after a series of assaults which included
Katherine stabbing him in the chest with a knife during an argument in
the kitchen, on Tuesday, February 29, 2000, John Price went to the
Scone Magistrate's Court and took out an Apprehended Violence Order
against Katherine Knight to keep her away from his house and hopefully
out of his life once and for all.
But AVO or not, there was no stopping his deranged
lover. The same night as he had taken out the AVO, John Price was in
bed at 11 after visiting his neighbors when a vehicle pulled into his
driveway and Kath entered the house, watched TV for a few minutes and
had a shower before joining Pricey in bed. They had sex.
Police officers made the following report after
arriving at the house the next day:
"About 6am on Wednesday March 1st, a
neighbour noticed that the victim's (John Price) work utility truck
was still at his home. This appeared unusual as the victim normally
had left for work each day prior to this time.
This neighbor became concerned as did the employer of
the victim who was by this time making inquiries as to why the victim
had not attended work. Attempts were made by the neighbour and another
friend to wake the victim by knocking on his bedroom window. The
neighbour and friend then went to the front door where they saw a
small amount of blood on the wooden exterior.
Police were contacted and attended about
8am. The police at the scene forced entry
to the house through the rear door. Upon entry the police located the
victim's exterior layers of skin hanging from a hook in a doorway arch
into the lounge room. They then located the victim's decapitated
remains on the lounge room floor near a small foyer leading to the
further search of the house by police resulted in them locating
Katherine Knight who was snoring loudly in a comatose condition on a
double bed at the end of the house. She was removed from the house
immediately by police and later conveyed to hospital by ambulance."
The following account is the complete report by crime
scene investigator Detective Senior Constable Peter Anthony Muscio who
was the first officer into the premises after the initial discovery of
John Price's body. In cases such as this, it is the detective's job to
piece together the macabre facts first hand from the evidence at the
murder scene before anyone else touches a thing;
"About 10am, Wednesday the 1st of March,
2000, in company with Detective Sergeant Neil Raymond, I attended the
premises at 84 St Andrews Street, Aberdeen in relation to an alleged
homicide. There I spoke to a number of police including duty officer
Graham Furlonger, Detective Sergeant Bob Wells and Senior Constable
Michael Prentice. The premises is a single storey, three bedroom
dwelling which faces generally south onto St
The premises was built towards the eastern side of the
block leaving a grassed area on the western side where three vehicles
were parked. These vehicles consisted of a white
Toyota 4WD, a white Ford sedan and a white Toyota Landcruiser
utility. There were two galvanised steel garn sheds in the rear yard,
one at each rear corner. There was also a brick barbeque against the
The dwelling had a full length verandah across the
southern side and a smaller verandah central to the rear of the
premises. My attention was drawn to a piece of cooked meat on the rear
lawn in front of the white Ford sedan. I made an examination of this
piece of meat and collected it for further testing. During my
examination I took a series of photographs of the premises and the
piece of cooked meat on the lawn.
I entered the premises to conduct a cursory examination
with Detective Sgt Raymond. I walked in through the rear door and into
the kitchen. Once inside the kitchen I saw a large section of what
appeared to be human skin hanging from the top architrave of the
doorway leading into the lounge room. This piece of skin extended from
the top of the doorway right to the floor and appeared to be an entire
Looking through this doorway into the lounge room I
could see a headless and skinless human body. I walked east along the
hallway and looked into the entry foyer and saw an extreme amount of
blood pooled on the floor. There was also a large amount of blood
smearing over the eastern wall of the entry.
I walked further east along the hallway and noticed
some blood staining leading from the main bedroom. In this bedroom I
noticed more blood staining however only moderate amounts. I then left
the scene and had a discussion with Sergeant Raymond and other
investigating police outside the scene. I then re-entered the premises
and made a more detailed examination.
The rear door of the premises opens into the laundry,
off the western side of this is the kitchen dining room. The laundry
contained a stainless steel tub in the north east corner and a washing
machine further south along the eastern wall. There was a built-in
cupboard in two separate wooden louvered doors in the southern wall of
On the western wall of the laundry was a cavity sliding
door that gave access to the dining room and kitchen. The room was
divided into two sections with the kitchen being the western end and
the dining room being the eastern end.
dining room contained a wood and steel dining room table which had
three matching seats placed around it. There were items of clothing
draped over the backs of each of the three chairs. On the dining room
table was a tool bag, some clothing, a small blue folder, an
electronic toy gorilla and some prescription medicine boxes.
I noticed blood staining to the shoulder area of a blue
shirt which was draped over the chair on the western side of the
table. The medication on the table consisted of three boxes of Felodur
ER 5mg of which two were empty. This medication normally contains 2
strips of each containing 15 tablets, however there was only one full
strip containing 15 tablets. There was also one empty box of Prinivil
20 tablets. An empty box of Dapa-Tabs was also on the table, this
medication when full contains 90 tablets at 2.5mg. The fourth chair of
the set was against the northern wall under the bench portion of the
breakfast bar. I took a series of photographs of the dining room.
The kitchen was in the east portion of the room. It
consisted of a kitchen bench with overhead cupboards along the eastern
wall. About central to this bench was an electric cook top which had a
baking dish and an aluminum boiler on it. Along the southern wall was
a wall oven and further east was a two door built-in pantry and a free
standing fridge. Along the northern wall was another bench which
incorporated the sink and further east was a breakfast bar that
protruded from the northern wall south into the kitchen and divided
the kitchen and dining room.
As mentioned earlier I saw what appeared to be a
complete human skin or pelt hanging from the top architrave of the
door separating the dining room and the lounge room. On closer
examination I could distinguish black curly hair at the top, a nose
and part of the mouth and ear. About halfway down the pelt I could see
a clump of short black curly hair consistent with pubic hair. I could
not recognise any other particular features as it continued to the
floor. The edges of the pelt were incised indicating to me that it had
been removed with a sharp instrument. There were also a number of
distinct stab wounds to the pelt, about a metre down from the top. The
pelt was attached to the architrave by a stainless steel meat hook.
The hook was pierced through the top of the head area of the pelt and
then hooked over the architrave on the lounge room side of the door.
The skin appeared to vary in thickness from approximately 1 to 4
noticed a blood trail leading from the lounge room into the kitchen
towards the kitchen cook top in the vicinity of the aluminum boiler.
The boiler was on the right side rear element, which was at the time
turned off. When I lifted the lid to the boiler I noticed it was warm
The pot was full of liquid and on the surface I could
identify a skinned human head and a number of cooked vegetables. On
the northern side of the aluminum boiler I saw a baking dish which was
sitting across the right front side element. Inside the baking dish I
saw an amount of liquid and the remains of baked vegetables. Just to
the right or northern side of the cook top I saw two prepared meals.
Each of the meals consisted of two pieces of cooked meat, baked
potato, baked pumpkin, zucchini, cabbage, yellow squash and gravy.
Underneath each of the meals was a torn section of kitchen paper with
a name written on it. The word "Beaky" was written in blue ink pen on
one of the pieces while the word "Jonathon" was on the other. The
pieces of meat appeared on the plates were similar to the piece I
collected from the rear lawn.
On the section of the kitchen bench across the northern
wall were a number of items of interest. On the western end of the
bench I saw a green electric jug with blood staining about the handle.
In the sink I saw an orange coloured vegetable peeler and the
vegetable peelings from potato, pumpkin, zucchini and onion. On the
eastern side of the sink I saw a cream coloured microwave dish
containing cooked cabbage leaves and a clearish liquid. In front of
the microwave dish I saw a brown coloured coffee cup that was sitting
on a wooden cutting up board. Inside the coffee cup was a teaspoon and
a small quantity of thick brown liquid similar to gravy. There was
also the residue of the gravy type substance on the cutting up board.
Just to the right of the cutting up board was a yellow handled "Swibo"
knife and two forks. The handle of the
knife was blood stained.
On the eastern side of the breakfast bar I saw a small
black handled knife which was blood stained and four empty medication
blister packs. One blister pack was labeled "Luvox" and had 15 tablets
missing, two blister packets labeled "Aropax" and had ten tablets
missing from each packet and the blister packet labelled Promethazine
had 20 tablets missing. I saw a blood stained grey coffee cup which
contained a white fatty substance. There was also an empty "Tooheys"
brand beer stubby, a packet of Winfield red cigarettes and a black
wallet belonging to the deceased on the bench. On the western side of
the breakfast bar I saw a "Norton" brand "bench stone" sharpening
On the southern side of the cook top on the bench
against the western wall of the kitchen was a microwave oven. In front
of the microwave was the remains of a roll of paper towel and a blue
plastic lid. This lid fitted on the microwave dish that was on the
kitchen sink. I also noted that the microwave door was open and the
courtesy light was on. On the cork tiled floor of the kitchen at the
south west corner of the kitchen bench I saw a blood stained bare
footprint. This foot print was from a right foot of a person and at
the time the person was standing adjacent to the kitchen bench with
the right foot facing north.
I noticed blood staining to the fridge on both the
handle of the door to the fridge section and the eastern side of the
unit. The staining to the door handle contained some ridge structure
and was in a position consistent with opening the door with bloodied
hands. There were also smears on the eastern face of the fridge, and
lower down, staining from droplets of blood that had come in contact
with this surface.
mentioned earlier the lounge room was off the southern side of the
kitchen/dining room, the two rooms being separated by a cavity sliding
door. On the eastern side of the lounge room was an opening of 1.6m
wide which gave the access to the front entry of the premises. The
lounge room contained a single seat lounge chair in the south east
corner and further west against that wall was a three seater lounge
suite, and another single lounge seat in the south west corner. From
this corner, north, against the western wall was a slow combustion
heater and another single lounge chair. Along the northern wall from
the north western corner was a large wooden display cabinet, a smaller
display cabinet, the doorway to the kitchen/dining room and single
lounge chair in the north eastern corner.
The skinless and headless body of a person now known to
me as John Charles Price was in a supine position with his legs
protruding into the entry foyer, from knees down. There was a
substantial amount of blood smeared over the carpet around the body.
As mentioned earlier there was also an extreme amount of blood pooling
on the floor of the entry foyer. In this blood pool and staining were
marks where the body of the deceased had been dragged about one metre
from about the middle of the entry foyer onto the carpet in the lounge
room. The deceased was laying on his back with his legs crossed at the
feet, the left ankle was on top of the right. His left arm was
extended and out from the body at an angle of about 45 degrees. Under
the left wrist of this arm was an empty plastic 1.25 litre Shelleys
Club Lemon Squash bottle. The right arm was also extended and lying
alongside the body. On the floor, adjacent to the right arm of the
deceased was a blood stained 31 cm yellow plastic handled knife. The
blade of this knife was 17.5cm long. The body was virtually devoid of
skin and flesh, exposing the muscles and some organs. There were a
number of wounds present on the body, one of the most obvious being a
stab wound to the left side of the chest which extended into the chest
As stated the body had been skinned in a manner that
leads me to believe that the person responsible would have had skill
in this area. From the blood staining on the carpet I was able to
determine that the deceased had been skinned prior to being
decapitated. there was a definite outline of the head in the blood
staining on the carpet. Examination of the neck region of the deceased
indicated that the head had been removed very carefully and cleanly
with a sharp instrument.
On the seat of the single lounge
chair in the north east corner of the room (adjacent to the shoulders
of the deceased) was a black handled honing steel (sharpening stone)
and an opened packet of Winfield Blue cigarettes. I also noticed
bloodied hand prints on the back and arms of this chair. On the
northern wall on the western side of the door to the kitchen was a
small display cabinet. Lying on this cabinet was a broken picture
frame containing a picture of the deceased. Lying on top of the
picture frame was a blood stained watch. To the west of the
photograph, still on top of the cabinet, was a blood stained hand
written note together with another broken picture on top of it. Apart
from being blood stained it had small pieces of flesh on it.
The note was poorly written and contained very basic
spelling mistakes. It read:-
got you back Johathon for rapping (raping) my douter (daughter). You
to Beck for Ross — for Little John.'
play with little Johns Dick John Price.'
were baseless.) "
The Final Fight for Life
It was evident to Detective Muscio that Katherine
Knight had murdered John Price, skinned and decapitated him and cooked
his head and served it and portions of his buttocks (the pieces of
meat in the backyard also proved to be from the victim's buttocks) on
plates for herself and his two children for dinner when, or if, they
returned to the house at some time.
Given that Price's son and daughter (the Beck and
Little John mentioned in the note) were away from the house when the
murder occurred, it seemed hardly likely that they would be returning
for a meal at a pre-arranged time.
Detective Muscio also said; "I remember walking down
the hallway and at about shoulder height there were all these blood
splatter marks on the walls. To me, it's indicative of each attack...
He's absolutely fighting for his life. The bloke's just had a bonk
(sexual intercourse) in the bed when he wakes up, then stab, stab,
stab. He's getting up, there is arterial spurting on the robe and the
bed, and on the doorway there's a bloodied handprint or swipe on the
western side of the door near the dressing table, and blood around the
light switch. It looks like he's tried to turn the light switch on.
And then all down the hallway they're (bloody handprints) everywhere.
And he's almost made it, he's opened the front door, the screen door
is shut, there is blood staining, trajectory again, flicking out
across the front door, he's almost made it... but he wouldn't have
survived. He would have been absolutely horrified, terrified —
probably terrified more than horrified — trying to get out and all the
time being stabbed."
An autopsy revealed that the victim was dead when he
was skinned. A razor sharp knife had been inserted just under his
collarbone and sliced horizontally across the top of the body, from
shoulder to shoulder, right under the clavicles. It was a straight,
clean cut, anatomically precise. Then the knife was turned and cut
down the chest and over the stomach to the pubic hair line and made
into a T with another straight line.
Tracing the knife tip around his pubic area and careful
not to cut his penis or genitals, the killer cut down the front of
John Price's thighs, over the knees and to his feet. The killer then
moved up the body, held his arms up and cut down the back of each one
and across the top of the victim's head. The killer then peeled the
victim's skin off, including his head, his hair, his face and all the
way down the length of the body to the feet exposing the victim's
The entire skin was in one piece including hair, face,
ears, nose, mouth, genitals and complete stab holes and dripping in
blood. Hanging from the S-hook in the doorway, the feet were dragging
on the ground.
killer then removed the victim's head clean at the C3-C4 junction,
right at the top of the shoulders using a very sharp knife The cut was
precise and clean. The killer would have been covered in warm, sticky
blood. According to forensic pathologist Dr. Timothy Lyons, who
performed the autopsy, the whole procedure would have taken about 40
Trial & Sentencing
Despite intensive questioning, Katherine Knight denied
having any recollection of what happened that night after she arrived
at the house and had sex with her lover. Having recovered from her
alleged suicide attempt, a week later on March 6, 2000, Katherine
Knight was charged with John Price's murder at a special bedside
sitting in the Maitland District Hospital
's psychiatric wing.
In a bizarre twist it was discovered that after she had
allegedly murdered her lover, Katherine had gone into Aberdeen and
withdrawn $1,000 from John Price's bank account from an automatic
At her trial in October 2001, Katherine Knight saved
John Price's distraught family the ordeal of having to hear all of the
evidence by pleading guilty. According to court-appointed
psychiatrists she was perfectly sane when she committed the crimes.
On November 8, Justice Barry O'Keefe sentenced
Katherine Mary Knight to life imprisonment without the possibility of
parole. The judge said that her papers were to be marked "never to be
released." She has since appealed the
severity of the sentence.
It is open to debate as to whether or not Kath Knight
ate parts of her lover after she cooked his head and slices from his
buttocks. It was hard to say if all of the pieces of John Price were
accounted for. To this day she maintains that all she recalls of that
night is that they had good sex and both climaxed. Then she remembers
that Pricey got out of bed to go for a pee and she watched him come
back into the bedroom. After that she presumes that she fell asleep
and that was that.
The general consensus of opinion (and in this case
everyone seems to have one) is that she ate part of John Price and
found what she did so abhorrent that she chooses to block it out of
Mulawa Women's Correctional Centre Katherine Knight works as a cleaner
in the governor's office. Although she is a good cook, it is highly
unlikely she will ever get a job in the kitchen.