The likes of Bundy, Ed Gein and John Wayne Gacy have gained high levels of notoriety for their crimes. Increasing widespread media coverage has helped serial killer interest overflow into households. Let’s take a look at Australia’s worst female killer Katherine Mary Knight.
Katherine Mary Knight was born on the 24th October 1955, New South Wales, Australia. While not a serial killer, Knight is the first Australian woman to be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole due the convicted murder of her partner, John Price. She is currently detained in Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre.
Knight was the younger of twins born to Ken Knight and Barbara Roughan. Her father was an alcoholic who openly used violence and intimidation to rape her mother up to ten times a day. Her mother, in turn, often told her daughters intimate details of her sex life and how much she hated sex and men.
Knight claims she was frequently sexually abused by several members of her family (though not by her father), which continued until she was 11. Apart from her twin, the only person Knight was close to was her uncle Oscar Knight. She was devastated when he committed suicide in 1969 and continues to maintain to this day that his ghost visits her.
Knight left school at 15, and at 16 started work 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 be available if she needed them. A habit she continued everywhere she lived, until her incarceration.
Knight married a nice hard-working man called David Kellett in 1974, at her request, and completely dominated him. On their wedding night, Knight tried to strangle David, later explaining it was because he fell asleep after only having intercourse three times. The marriage was particularly destructive. Unable to cope with Knights violent and possessive behavior, in May 1976, after the birth of their first child, Kellett left her for another woman. Shortly after this Knight was diagnosed with postnatal depression, placing two-month-old Melissa on a railway line shortly before the train was due. Luckily an old man who was foraging near the railway line, found and rescued Melissa, by all accounts only minutes before the train passed.
After another daughter by Kellett, Knight met 38-year-old miner David Saunders in 1986. The violence from Knight continued and in May 1987, she cut the throat of his two-month-old dingo pup in front of him, for no other reason than as an example of what would happen if he ever had an affair. After giving birth to her third daughter Sarah in June 1988 she hit Saunders in the face with an iron before stabbing him in the stomach with a pair of scissors after an argument, prompting him to move back to Scone.
In 1990, Knight became pregnant by 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 Price was the father of three children when Knight had an affair with him. In 1998, a spiteful Knight got Price fired from the job he had held for 17 years and that same day, he kicked her out. A few months later, Price restarted the relationship although now refused to allow her to move in with him. After a violent attack from Knight one morning, Price told his co-workers that if he did not come to work the next day, it would be because Knight had killed him. With his children at friends, he spent the evening with his neighbors before returning home and going to bed at 11pm. Knight later arrived while he was sleeping, woke Price and they had sex, after which he fell asleep.
At 6am the next morning a neighbor noticed blood on the front door of Price’s home and alerted the police, who arrived at 8am. Breaking down the back door, police found Price’s body with Knight comatose from taking a large number of pills.
Price’s autopsy revealed that he had been stabbed at least 37 times, with many of the wounds extending into vital organs. Several hours after Price had died, Knight skinned him and hung his skin from a meat hook on the 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. She had placed 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 his children.
Knight pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. Her papers were marked “never to be released”, the first time that this had been imposed on a woman in Australian history.