This week’s episode was chosen by Jennifer because it’s her birthday! She also chose the case for our mini episode and when I tell you she chose some twisted cases. . . maybe I should be more worried about her mental state :P. And coincidentally enough, this case just so happens to take place in Australia which is perfect since they have taken the lead as the country with the most listeners (not counting the U.S. of course).
Katherine Knight was born October 24, 1955 as the result of a major scandal. Her mother, Barbara Roughan, had four sons before her with her husband Jack. They lived in a very conservative rural small town and were very well known. Jack’s boss, Ken Knight, was also well known in the town. So when Barbara and Ken began an affair, word spread like a wildfire and the little town was shook. This caused them to leave Aberdeen and move to another town called Moree about 4-4.5 hours away. Two of Barbara and Jack’s kids stayed with their father and the other two were sent to live with their aunt in Sydney. I couldn’t find anything that said why none of the children went with her, but she didn’t have an empty home for long. This is when she had Katherine and her twin sister with now husband Ken. A few years later in 1959, Barbara’s first husband Jack died. Their two sons that had been living with him moved in with the Knight family.
Growing up, Katherine had a rough childhood. Her father, Ken, was an alcoholic who was known to use violence and intimidation to rape her mother. Sometimes up to 10 times a day. I can’t help but wonder why she would leave her husband for that… I mean maybe this part of the relationship didn’t start until later, but I don’t know. As if witnessing this wasn’t enough, Barbara would often tell her daughters intimate details about her sex life and how much she hates sex and men. She has also claimed that she was frequently sexually abused by members of her family up until she was 11. There are certain details that are disputed, but for the most part her claims have been accepted as all her family members confirmed the abuse happened.
Despite going through all of this from such a young age, Katherine was generally described as a pleasant girl. The catch of course being that she experienced murderous rages to the smallest of upsets. In high school, she was a loner and classmates remembered her as a bully who stood over smaller children. She even assaulted one boy at school with a weapon and at one point was injured by a teacher who was found to have acted in self defense. (My understanding is that as a child growing up, Katherine was quite the animal lover. Maybe not so much a people person, but she was always trying to bring injured animals home to nurse them back to health. Mostly birds, and small strays. Her father did not like her doing this and told her they couldn’t keep any of them as pets of their own, as they already had greyhounds, and her father thought that the dogs would eat the small creatures. But that didn’t deter Katherine, who continued to rescue the little animals, and then release them after they healed. She also had an interest in dolls when she was smaller and would spend a lot of time playing with them as well, since she didn’t have many friends.)
She was only ever close with her twin and her uncle Oscar Knight. Apparently, he was a champion horseman, but he unfortunately committed suicide in 1969 (Katherine was 14 at the time). At this point, the family decided to move back to Aberdeen.
When she was 15 she decided school wasn’t for her and quit. She had never learned how to read or write, so she got a job as a cutter in a clothing factory. If you’re wondering what a fabric cutter does, I was too, so according to zip recruiter, “A fabric cutter’s duties revolve around preparing material to sew into a garment or pattern by measuring, placing marks, and cutting the fabric or textile to the proper specifications.” Only a year later, she left her position as a cutter for what she referred to as her dream job – cutting up offal (organs of a butchered animal) at the local abattoir (slaughterhouse). She was quickly promoted to boning (removing the bones) and given her own set of butcher knives. She was very proud of these knives and held them near and dear to her – literally. She hung the knives over her bed so that they would “always be handy” if she needed them. And if you’re wondering, she didn’t grow out of this.
In 1973 (18 now), she met and started seeing David Kellett. He was a new coworker and was a raging alcoholic who was prone to fights. Sound familiar? (Like her father) Katherine was obviously used to this kind of environment and he was surprised when she joined in on one of his drunken scuffles. It was said that if David got into a fight she would back him up without fail. She had a bit of a reputation for offering “armed combat” to anyone who upset her. In 1974 the couple got married. Sounds like it’s going pretty well, right?
Well, not exactly. Katherine had convinced him to marry her which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. What is bad though is that he was heavily intoxicated the entire time. Barbara (Katherine’s mother if you forgot), pulled David aside before the nuptials and said to him, “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.” She also told him that she had a screw loose. (If her own mother is giving you such a direct warning about her own daughter, I feel like there should be bright, flashing warning lights, and sirens even, saying “Don’t do it! Back away!!”) Again, none of this is the end of the world, but it gets worse. After the wedding, they consummated the marriage three times and when David fell asleep and Katherine decided she wanted a fourth round, she decided the next best move was to attempt to strangle him. Fortunately, he woke up and was able to fight her off.
For some reason, they decided to stay together. That’s not to say it was a good marriage though. David had multiple affairs and once even left Katherine and their two kids in the middle of the night. In another instance, a heavily pregnant Katherine once burned all of Kellet’s clothing and shoes before hitting him across the back of the head with a frying pan (yes, like Tangled). Surprisingly, this had nothing to do with an affair, but was actually because he got home late from a darts competition after making the finals. He fled before collapsing in a neighbor’s house and he was later treated for a badly fractured skull. Police wanted to charge her but Katherine was now on her best behavior and talked David into dropping the charges.
One of David’s affairs caused him to leave the family and move with his mistress to Queensland. It is said that the next day Katherine took their two month old daughter in a pram and was pushing her while violently throwing the pram side to side. She was then admitted to St. Elmo’s hospital and treated for postnatal depression. After several weeks she was released, and then proceeded to put the baby on a railway line shortly before the train was due. As if this wasn’t disturbing enough, she then stole an ax, went into town, and threatened to kill a bunch of people. Fortunately, an old man from town spotted the baby during this ordeal and was able to save it from being hit by the train with mere minutes to spare. Katherine was readmitted to St. Elmos, but signed herself out again the next day. (Post-partum depression is not a joking matter at all. And, with someone who already has clear mental health issues, stemming from her childhood, the risk to the baby is only amplified. I am disappointed that it seems the mental health system was failing her, as she was being committed after doing these unspeakable acts, and showing homicidal tendencies, only to be released a day or so later. And, from what we know so far, she doesn’t seem to have a solid family system around her to help her with what she was going through.)
Just a few days later, she slashed a woman’s face with one of her prized knives and demanded she drive her to Queensland to find her husband. The woman was able to escape when they stopped at a service station and contacted police. By the time police arrived, Katherine had taken a little boy hostage. Police were able to apprehend her and she was once again committed to a psychiatric hospital – this time Morisset Psychiatric Hospital. She told the nurses at the hospital that she had intended to kill the mechanic at the service station because he had fixed her husband’s car which had enabled him to leave her. She also said that she was planning to kill David and his mother when she arrived in Queensland. (This is exactly what I was eluding to earlier. Another explosive act of violence, followed by a brief commitment, and then Katherine is back out & at it again. Her actions are screaming for someone to help her, and it’s so disheartening that no one can seem to do that for any extensive period of time. Katherine is being failed by the system, and the victims of her rage and outbursts of anger are too.)
Police informed David as to what had happened and *this part surprised me* He decided to leave his girlfriend and he and his mother moved back to Aberdeen to take care of Katherine. On August 9th, 1976, she was released from the hospital into David and his mother’s care. Despite everything that had happened, things seemed to be better and about four years later, in 1980, the couple had another daughter. Eventually though, the relationship did end for good. Some sources say David is the one that ended it while others say that Katherine left him.
After this chapter of her life closed, she moved back in with her parents and then rented a house once she was back on her feet. She had gone back to working at the abattoir, but after about a year she injured her back and went on disability.
In 1986, she met David Saunders (two Davids in a row, what are the odds lol). He was a local miner and their relationship moved quickly with him moving in with Katherine and her daughters after only a few months. He did keep his own apartment and I couldn’t find anything that said why, but it makes me wonder if he had a gut feeling that the relationship wouldn’t last or that he would still need it. (Maybe since it was a smaller town, and clearly she wasn’t limiting her rage events to at home, people talk, so I think it would be hard to hide everything that had taken place in the past. Now that being said, I am not sure why someone would want to risk their own life dating her either.) Katherine being Katherine, she got worried and suspicious of what he was doing when she wasn’t around. She was constantly throwing him out of the house, but always came back around begging him to come back.
About a year into their relationship, she cut the throat of his two month old dingo puppy to warn David of what she would do if he ever had an affair and then proceeded to knock him unconscious with a frying pan (again with the frying pan). (This is very different from when she was trying to heal animals as a child. But, also an indicator that she is escalating. Innocent creatures, including her own human baby and now a baby puppy aren’t safe. Again, these are all signs that in layman’s terms, she is coming apart at the seams.) Another year later, in June of 1988, Katherine had a third daughter. This prompted David to put a deposit down on a house for the growing family. It is said that she 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. Remember our picking out the particulars from the Herb Baumeister episode? I think I need to add this to the list of creepiest things to find in a house.
Again, from the outside looking in it seems as though this relationship is on the up and up, but that wasn’t the case. They were having an argument one day when Katherine hit him in the face with an iron before stabbing him in the stomach with a pair of scissors. He went back to his old place for a while and when he returned, found that she had cut up all his clothes. This was his tipping point and he went into hiding. Katherine tried to find him, but no one would admit to knowing where he was. After several months he decided to return so that he could see his daughter and discovered that Katherine had told the police she was afraid of him, so they issued her an apprehended violence order (AVO) against him. This is essentially a restraining order, so he couldn’t see them. (Well isn’t that some turn of events. Her claiming she was the victim to get the restraining order. Although, this is probably the best thing that could have happened to dear old David. Smart of him to hide, though I do wonder if he was also not working during this time, since it would have been easy for her to track him down there. Just a thought.)
Katherine quickly moved onto her next relationship with a man named John Chillingworth. In 1990, they had Katherine’s fourth child, her first son. There isn’t as much out there about their relationship or anything violent that occurred, but they were together for about three years. The relationship ended when John found out Katherine was having an affair with a man named John Price. Again with the same name! (The name repetition is interesting to me. I wonder if it is just the prevalence of more common names that had her dating guys with the same first names back-to-back? Or, was this purposeful, like her trying to correct a prior relationship with someone with the same name, almost as if they are the same person to her, in her head. Basically, trying to rectify all the wrongdoings with the prior David or John. Now, insofar as the infidelity is concerned. Whenever an individual is so obsessed or fixated on someone else being a cheater, to the point that they want to know where that individual is 24hrs a day, it is not only unhealthy, but an indicator that they may be the one doing the cheating. It’s like their own guilt manifests itself into making them think that they are justified in what they are doing, because their partner must be doing the same thing. This creates a level of paranoia that just escalates. And, it won’t de-escalate until one of a few things happen. Either both parties separate, they both get mental health assistance, or one, or both does something so egregious that they are incarcerated or committed.)
Katherine and John #2 started their relationship in a good place despite the fact that it was an affair. John had three kids of his own and his marriage had ended in 1988. Of his three kids, the two oldest had stayed with him and the youngest stayed with his ex. He was described as a “terrific bloke” and was liked by everyone that knew him. Surprisingly, he knew about Katherine’s violent reputation, but still continued in a relationship with her and even had her move into his house in 1995. His kids got along with her and he was making good money, so he felt like the occasional violent arguments were not a big deal and described life as “a bunch of roses.”
A few years later, in 1998, they had a particularly bad fight about John’s refusal to marry Katherine. She decided to retaliate by videotaping items he had stolen from work and sending it to his boss. Now, these items that he had “stolen” were out of date medical kits that he had taken from the garbage, so I don’t know that stealing is necessarily the right word here. Some sources also say that he hadn’t taken them at all and that in reality Katherine had framed him for it. Regardless though, this tarnished John’s reputation and caused him to be fired from his job that he had worked at for 17 years. He decided she had gone too far and kicked her out of his house right then and there.
I don’t know what it was about this woman, but just like her past partners, John eventually came around and started seeing her again a few months later. This time though, he didn’t let her move in. Unfortunately, restarting this relationship wasn’t going super well and the fighting became more frequent. It reached a point where most of his friends said they didn’t want anything to do with him if he stayed with her. (I’ve always said, you can’t undo the metaphorical line in the sand once you cross it. You can only create a new line or boundary, and hopefully you don’t cross that one. Though, more often than not, in cases of domestic violence, there are so many lines that get crossed, that boundaries become almost non-existent. And, as I mentioned earlier, the cycle of violence will continue. And since I am prone to using metaphors to illustrate my meaning, I’m going to use another one here. Imagine a wheel turning. For every partial turn that wheel makes, it will eventually end up right back where it started. The only way it doesn’t, is if it breaks, or it comes to a stop. Much like an abusive relationship. It will only stop if it breaks, as in the individuals involved break away from each other. Or, it stops, as in they both recognize the abuse and do something to correct it, like seek counseling, or other psychological help. Otherwise, the wheel will continue to turn, faster & faster, until whatever or whoever is attached to it crashes and burns. And, the isolation of the victim of abuse, just allows the abuser to gain further control over their victim, causing the victim to cling to the abuser as the only person they have left in their life. Like a form of dependence.)
Despite his friend’s concerns John stayed in the relationship and in February of 2000 Katherine attempted to stab him in the chest. He had finally reached his breaking point, for real this time, and went to the police. He took out a restraining order on her for both him and his children. He told some coworkers that if he didn’t show up to work the next day it was because she had killed him. This obviously concerned them and they suggested that he not go home if he was that scared for his life. However, his children were there and he felt he had to go back or else Katherine might kill THEM. When he got home, she wasn’t there and neither were his children. She had sent them to a sleepover at a friend’s house. Now that he knew his kids were safe, he went to a neighbor’s house for the evening, but around 11pm went back home to sleep in his own bed. Later on, Katherine showed up and watched some tv and took a shower before waking John up. They proceeded to have sex and John then went back to sleep. I don’t know why he would have sex with her with all that was going on, but maybe he thought if he did what she wanted, she would chill out and everything would be okay. (I tend to agree with your assessment here. I would be thinking, why poke the bear. Keep everything as amicable as possible for the evening, and then by the light of day, put yourself in a situation that would be safer to address then.)
At 6am the next morning, John’s neighbor was concerned because his car was still in the driveway and he had usually left by then. His boss was also concerned as he wasn’t the type to be late and after the comments made the previous day, decided to send a worker to his house to make sure everything was ok.
The neighbor and the worker first went to John’s bedroom window and knocked on it to try and wake him up. Then they noticed blood on the front door and contacted police. The police arrived around 8am and broke down the back door. They found John’s body with Katherine who was comatose from taking a bunch of pills. He had woken to her stabbing him with a butcher’s knife and he tried to turn the light on before attempting to escape. She chased him through the house and he had managed to get out the front door, but either stumbled back inside or was dragged back in where he bled out in the hallway. He had been stabbed a total of 37 times on both the front and back of his body.
Now remember, Katherine had worked in a butcher shop, so she knew her way around a body. So she didn’t stop at stabbing him – she hung his body from a meat hook and skinned him. Not stopping there, she decapitated him and cut up pieces of his body that she then proceeded to cook along with potato, pumpkin, beets, zucchini, cabbage, squash, and gravy. She cooked this up and prepared three plates. One that has been speculated to have been for herself, was found thrown on the back lawn while the other two were sitting on the table with name cards for his two children. They also found his head in a pot of vegetables, still warm from having been cooked. (This was the climax of her escalation. Her end to their relationship. The you aren’t going to leave me, I will leave you, or in this case, kill you. The if it’s not me, then it will be nobody. But then she took it to a whole other level, with the butchering of him. But, that’s what she knew, and he was no different than an animal to her. So she skinned him, and deboned some of him, to make a meal. I am not sure if she actually ate of him, but if she did, it wouldn’t surprise me, as that would be their ultimate bond, in her head, anyway. But, trying to feed him to his children is just plain wrong. Unless she saw him as sustenance, providing for his children, even if it was literally himself.)
Once Katherine woke up she claimed to have no recollection of what had happened, but there wasn’t much to argue so police quickly charged her with his murder. She ended up pleading guilty to his murder, but still claimed she didn’t remember doing it and refused to take responsibility for her actions. At the sentencing hearing, her lawyers requested that she be excused so that she wouldn’t have to hear the gruesome details, but that request was denied. When the skinning and decapitation were described, she became hysterical and had to be sedated.
Due to the nature of the crime and her lack of remorse, Katherine was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. It was also ordered that her papers be marked “never to be released,” which was a first for an Australian woman. In 2006, she of course appealed, saying that “a penalty of life in jail without possibility of parole was too severe for the killing.” The motion was dismissed with the judge saying, “This was an appalling crime, almost beyond contemplation in a civilized society.” Actually, I want to read an extract from Supreme Court Justice Barry O’Keefe’s statement at sentencing, as it was clear from those statements, that he wasn’t swayed or disillusioned by Katherine Knight the person, or Katherine Knight as a female offender, before laying down the law…literally:
‘The prisoner, Katherine Mary Knight, does not qualify for mercy. She engaged in cruel, vicious behaviour to Mr Price. She showed him no mercy. She has not expressed any contrition or remorse. If released, she poses a serious threat to the security of society.
I’m satisfied beyond any doubt that such a murder was premeditated. I’m further satisfied in the same way that not only did she plan the murder, but she also enjoyed the horrific acts which followed in its wake as part of a ritual of death and defilement.
The things which she did after the death of Mr Price indicate cognition, volition, calm and skill. I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that her evil actions were playing out of her resentments arising out of her rejection by Mr Price, her impending expulsion from Mr Price’s home, which he wanted to retain for his children.
As I have said, the prisoner showed no mercy whatsoever to Mr Price. The last minutes of his life must have been a time of abject terror for him, as they were a time of utter enjoyment for her. At no time did the prisoner express any regret for what she had done or any remorse for having done it; not even through the surrogacy of counsel. Her attitude in that regard is consistent with her general approach to the many acts of violence which she has engaged in against her various partners.
The only appropriate penalty for the prisoner is life imprisonment and that parole should never be considered for her.
Katherine Mary Knight, you have pleaded guilty to, and been convicted of, the murder of John Charles Thomas Price at Aberdeen in the State of New South Wales, on or about 29th February, 2000. In respect of that crime, I sentence you to imprisonment for life.’
Accessed February, 2022. https://murderpedia.org/female.K/k/knight-katherine.htm
Accessed February, 2022. https://allthatsinteresting.com/katherine-knight
Accessed February, 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katherine_Knight#cite_note-Lalor-3
Accessed February, 2022. https://www.ranker.com/list/facts-about-australian-cannibal-katherine-knight/cat-mcauliffe
Accessed February, 2022. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/8544392/john-charles_thomas-price
Accessed February, 2022. https://www.ziprecruiter.com/e/What-Are-the-Duties-of-a-Fabric-Cutter#:~:text=A%20fabric%20cutter’s%20duties%20revolve,materials%20depending%20on%20that%20environment
Accessed February, 2022. https://au.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-lists/7-scariest-killers-australia-6492/katherine-knight-6500/
Accessed February, 2022. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10241673/Katherine-Knight-skinned-decapitated-lover-cooked-head-pot.html
Accessed February, 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health/relationships/cycle-of-abuse#the-cycle