The Mother Who Tried to Feed Her Boyfriend to Her Children, Katherine Knight

Katherine Knight with boyfriend John Charles Thomas Price

Katherine Knight made history as the first woman to be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole in Australia. She brutally murdered her boyfriend, John Charles Thomas Price, by stabbing him 37-times to death in 2000. After doing so, she set the table for her children, cooked his body, served it with potatoes and side vegetables, and then attempted to overdose. This is the story of Katherine Knight.

Katherine’s early life

Katherine Knight was born on October 24, 1955. She was a twin, the younger of her family. Her family had many troubles as she grew up, filled with secrecy, suicide, and scandal. Knight’s father, Ken, raped her mother up to ten times a day, as he was an alcoholic. Knight claims that she was sexually abused by many family members (not including her father) until the age of 11. All family members also corroborated her claim, reporting the abuse that took place during her young life.

She, like many other murderers, had a tough life growing up. As her mother was getting raped by her alcoholic father, she reported telling her mother once about a sex act a boy wanted her to do that she didn’t feel comfortable with. Reportedly, the mother responded, “put up with it and stop complaining.” Although she was a star student growing up, she struggled with murderous rages whenever upset or stressed. She assaulted one boy with a weapon at school, and another teacher reported injuring Knight out of self-defense.

She dropped out of school at age 15, without knowing how to read or write. She got her first job as a cutter in a clothing factory. Still, less than a year later got what she referred to as her “dream job,” as a butcher, cutting up offal at the local abattoir from where she was quickly promoted to boning and given her own set of butcher knives. It is reported that once she received the butcher knives, she hung them over her bed at night, as to “have them whenever she needed them,” which she continued everywhere she lived, all the way up until her incarceration.

Her first husband

Katherine met her first husband, David Kellett, in 1973. Knight married Kellett in 1974. She gave him her all, backing him up in any situation. When the couple arrived at their wedding service, they rode in on a motorcycle with Kellett heavily intoxicated in the passenger seat as Katherine drove. Katherine Knight’s mother gave some chilling advice to Kellett when they arrived, saying,

“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.”

Then, on their wedding night, Katherine tried to strangle him.

She claimed that it was because he fell asleep after only having intercourse three times. If this was any indication of how their marriage was going to continue (which it was), Kellett should have gotten out of there as fast as possible. The marriage was distinctly violent, with one occurrence being when Katherine, pregnant, burned all of Kellett’s shoes and clothing and then proceeded to hit him across the head with a frying pan, only because he got back home late (he was participating in a darts championship and made it to the finals). Kellett barely escaped and collapsed at a neighbors house and was treated for head fractures. Katherine was now on her best behavior, and she somehow convinced Kellett to drop the charges.

Kellett left Katherine after the birth of their first child in May of 1976, Melissa Ann. It is presumed that he couldn’t handle her possessiveness and violent behavior. Knight was then witnessed mistreating her newborn in public and was admitted to a hospital for postnatal depression. Once she was released, she tied Melissa Ann to a railroad track with a train headed to run her over, as she went into town to threaten to kill several people with a stolen axe. Somehow, a man who was foraging near the area was able to find Melissa Ann and save her just minutes before the train. Knight, arrested again, was admitted back to the same hospital but signed herself back out the very next day.

Just days later, Knight slashed the face of a woman with one of her knives and demanded that she drive her to Queensland to try and find Kellett. The woman escaped when they stopped at a service station, but Knight had already taken a young boy hostage threatening him with a knife by the time the police arrived. She was disarmed by the police and was admitted to another psychiatric hospital. It was there that Knight confessed to the nurses that she 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. After police informed Kellett of the incident, he, his girlfriend, and his mother all left for Aberdeen.

Knight was released yet again on August 9, 1976, to the care of her mother-in-law, and with Kellett, they moved to Woodridge, in Brisbane, which was where she obtained the job at the Dinmore meatworks. On March 6, 1980, they had another daughter, Natasha Maree. In 1984, Knight left Kellett and moved in with her parents first, then to a rented house. She injured her back the following year and went on a disability pension. The government of Australia gave her a housing commission house in Aberdeen.

Katherine’s other partners

In 1986, Knight met David Saunders, a miner, who was 38 years old. A few months later, he moved in with her and her two daughters. Knight soon became jealous of some of his behavior and kicked him out. Then he moved back to his old apartment, which he had kept even though he was living with her, and she begged him to return.

In May of 1987, she cut the throat of his two-month-old dingo pup in front of him for nothing more than to serve as an example to him of what would happen if he ever had an affair. Then she knocked him unconscious with a frying pan.

In June 1988, she gave birth to her third daughter Sarah, which caused Saunders to put a deposit down on a house, which Knight paid off with her workers' compensation in 1989. Knight decorated the house with animal skins, horns, skulls, rusty animal traps, leather jackets, machetes, rakes, and pitchforks. No space, including the ceilings, was left uncovered—the perfect house for her young children.

Saunders moved back to his old apartment again after an argument where she hit him in the face with an iron before stabbing him in the stomach with a pair of scissors. When he returned to their house again, he discovered that she had cut up all his clothes. Saunders took a leave from his job and went into hiding. Knight tried to find him, but no one would tell her where he was. Then she went to the police, and they issued an Apprehended Violence Order against him so that he could no longer visit his child.

In 1990, Knight became pregnant by 43-year-old John Chillingworth, a former co-worker, and then gave birth the following year to a boy named Eric. Their relationship lasted three years before leaving him for a man she was having an affair with, John Price.

John Price

John “Pricey” Price was the father of three children when Knight had an affair with him. His own marriage ended in 1988, and while his two-year-old daughter remained with his ex-wife, the two older lived with him. Price was definitely aware of Katherine’s dangerous reputation, and she moved into his house in 1995. His children liked her, and apart from violent arguments, at first, “life was a bunch of roses.”

In 1998, they fought over Price’s refusal to marry her. Knight videotaped some items that he stole from his work in a backlash and sent them to his boss. Price was fired from the job he had held for 17 years (even though the items were out-of-date medical kits that he had scavenged from the companies' trash). That same day, he kicked her out, and she returned to her own home. The news of what she had done to him began to spread around the town.

A few months later, Price restarted the relationship, although now he refused to allow her to move in with him. The fighting became more frequent, and his friends refused to have anything to do with him since he was still with her.

Then, in February 2000, a series of assaults on Price consummated, with Knight stabbing Price in the chest. Fed up, he kicked her out of the house. On February 29th of that year, he took out a restraining order against her to keep her away from him and his children.

That afternoon, Price told his co-workers that if he did not return to work the next day, it would be because Knight had killed him.

They pleaded with him not to go home, but he did because he feared for his children’s lives. Price arrived home to find that Knight had sent the children away to a sleep-over with a friend. He spent the evening with his neighbors before going to bed at 11 pm. Earlier that day, Knight had bought some new black lingerie and videotaped all her children making comments in what was interpreted since as a crude will. Knight arrived later at Price’s house while sleeping, and she woke Price after having a shower. They then had sex, and he fell asleep.

At 6 am the next morning, the neighbor became concerned when they noticed that Price’s car was still in the driveway, and when Price never came to work, his employer sent a worker to see what was wrong. Both the neighbor and the worker attempted to knock on Price’s bedroom window, but after noticing blood on the front door, they alerted the police, who arrived at 8 am that day. After police broke down the back door, they found Knight comatose from taking many pills, and his body, stabbed with a butcher knife while he was sleeping. According to the forensic evidence, he awoke and tried to turn the light on before attempting to escape as Knight chased him throughout the house. He actually managed to open the front door, and either he stumbled back inside, or he was dragged back in, where he died after bleeding out. Later, Knight went into Aberdeen and withdrew $1,000 from Price’s bank account.

After an autopsy was performed, it was determined that Price was stabbed 37 times, both in the front and back of his body, with many wounds extending into vital organs. Hours after he had died, Knight skinned him and hung the skin from a meat hook.

She then decapitated him and cooked parts of his body, serving the meat with baked potato, pumpkin, zucchini, cabbage, yellow squash, and gravy in two settings at the dinner table, along with two notes at each plate. Each note had one of his children's names on it; she was prepared to serve his body to his children.

Trial

Knight’s initial offer to plead guilty to manslaughter was rejected. She was arraigned on February 2, 2001, on the charge of murdering Price, to which she entered a plea of not guilty. Her trial was initially fixed for July 23, 2001, but adjourned on account of her counsel’s illness. It was re-fixed for October 15, 2001.

The jury was given the option to excuse themselves over the horrific photographic evidence, of which five accepted. When the witness list was read aloud to the prospects, several more dropped out, after which the jury was impaneled. Knight’s attorneys spoke to the judge, and then he adjourned for the following day. The next morning, Knight changed her plea to guilty. It is reported that the judge requested a psychiatric evaluation of her to ensure that she was fit to give a plea of guilty. No reason was ever given for the plea, and despite having it, Knight refused to accept responsibility for her actions.

Oddly, at the sentencing hearing, Knight’s lawyers requested that she be excused from hearing some of the facts, but the application was refused. When the doctor took the stand and explained the horrific things she did to Price, Knight became hysterical and was sedated.

November 8, the judge pointed out Knight's lack of remorse, as well as the nature of the crime, and said it required a severe penalty. She was sentenced to life imprisonment, refused to fix a non-parole period, and ordered that her papers were marked “never to be released.” This was the first time this verdict had been imposed on a woman in Australian history.

In June 2006, Knight appealed the life sentence, claiming that a penalty of life in jail without the possibility of parole was too severe for the killing. The appeal was dismissed, with Justice McClellan writing in his judgment,

“This was an appalling crime, almost beyond contemplation in a civilized society.”

Katherine Knight today

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