What drives a person to kill somebody, much less cook them and eat them, remains a mystery to most of us? We’ve heard of crimes of passion where people just lose and kill the one they love, but what Katherine Knight did is unspeakable. Not only did she kill her boyfriend, but she cooked him into a stew and fed it to his children. Their relationship was far from good, but what could have driven her to do such a thing?
Katherine was born on October 5, 1955 in New South Wales, and from the moment she was born, it would seem as though the world was out to get her. Katherine was the result of an affair between Barbara Roughan and Ken Knight. Roughan had four sons, and she met Knight through her husband. Their conservative town was absolutely mortified by this affair.
Ken was a nightmare of a father and husband. He was an alcoholic who repeatedly rape Barbara and brutally beat the family, using whatever he could get his hands on. Barbara often talked about the rapes with her children and told them how she hated men and sex. It has been reported that Katherine had also suffered sexually abuse by different family members, just not Ken, until around the age of 11. This is what would shape her disgust and distrust of men.
Her unstable home life turned Katherine into a school bully who often picked on children smaller than her. She even attacked a schoolmate with a knife and the teacher who stepped in ended up getting injured. At 15, she dropped out of school never having learned how to read or write and started working at a clothing store.
A year later, Katherine got her dream job. A job at a slaughterhouse removing the organs of animals. Katherine enjoyed chopping up animals and working with the knives. In fact, she hung the first set of butcher knives she used over her bed. After all, you never know when one might need one. She felt it comforting to take a look at them before she went to bed.
After the childhood she had, it was pretty hard to have a healthy view of sex and relationships. But it didn’t stop Katherine from trying to find love, or maybe she was just looking for a target for her anger. Katherine met David Kellett, a co-worker, in 1973. They were soon dating, and she quickly gained control over the relationship and dominated David in every way imaginable. David would often get into bar fights and Katherine would back him up. She never feared bigger or powerful men. It wasn’t long before she earned a reputation for threatening violence if something displeased her.
Katherine insisted, and the couple married in 1974. They showed up to their ceremony on a motorcycle with David drunk. As you would imagine, Katherine’s mom had quite the toast for the young couple, she said, “You better watch this one or she’ll kill you. Stir her up the wrong way or do the wrong thing and you’re screwed. Don’t ever think of playing up on her, she’ll kill you.” Barbara even added this heartfelt comment, “she got a screw loose somewhere.” And I thought she hated romance.
The newlyweds wedding night was one for the books as well. Katherine tried to strangle David because he only managed to have sex with her three times before falling asleep. They were far from a match made in heaven. Katherine lived up to her mother’s warnings as was violent, vindictive, and jealous. At some point they chose to have children, but this didn’t mellow her out any.
At one point during her pregnancy, Katherine burned all of David’s shoes and clothes and hit him in the head with a frying pan. David fled to their neighbor’s and collapsed due to his fractured skull. Somehow, Katherine was able to talk David into not pressing charges.
Their daughter, Melissa Ann, was born in 1976. It wasn’t long after that David decided he had, had enough and left Katherine for another women. As one would imagine, Katherine was not very happy about this.
The day after David left, Katherine was seen pushing Melissa Ann in a carriage down Main Street, violently rocking it from side to side, and she would slam it into fences and walls. She was then admitted to St. Elmo’s Hospital and diagnosed with post-partum depression. After a few weeks in the hospital, Katherine was released and it was clear to see her time in the psych ward hadn’t helped a bit.
After only a day of being out, Katherine took her two month old to some railroad tracks and laid her on the railway line. She then stole an axe and sauntered through town, threatening the lives of several people. Luckily, Melissa was found and rescued by a man known as Old Ted only minutes before a train came through.
Once again, Katherine found herself in St. Elmo’s Hospital, but she signed herself out the following day. Only days later, Katherine grabbed her favorite knife collection and slashed open a woman’s face, demanding that she take her to Queensland so she could find David. The women got away, but Katherine had taken a little boy hostage before the police could arrive.
Police had to disarm Katherine with brooms and she was admitted to Morisset Psychiatric Hospital. The depth of her anger, jealousy, and vindictiveness shocked the nurses as they listened to how she planned on killing the mechanic who had fixed David’s car, which allowed David to leave, and then kill David and his mother once she got to Queensland. Once they found out, David, his mother, and his new girlfriend rushed to Aberdeen.
What Kellett did next was either because he still loved Kathy, felt bad for her, or he was too scared to be away from her for good because once she was released, David, along with his mother, moved with Katherine to Woodbridge. To make matters worse, these two decided to have another child, Natasha Maree. Four years later, Katherine choose to leave David. She moved in with her parents at first, and then she rented a house in Muswellbrook. She headed back to her slaughterhouse job, but the next year, she injured her back and was out on disability. She had to leave the rented house and move into public housing in Aberdeen.
Then Katherine met her new beau in 1986. David Saunders, the unfortunate soul, was a miner, and the two fell madly in love. Within months, Saunders was living with Katherine and her two children. Why did they let her keep her children?
However, Saunders chose to keep his apartment and this upset Katherine immensely. She became suspicious and jealous and their relationship took a nosedive. Katherine, never one to suppress how she feels, once got so mad at him that she killed a two-month-old dingo puppy right in front of him just to show him what she was capable of.
However, the two stayed together and had a baby girl later that year. After Sarah was born, Saunders put a deposit down on a house, which Katherine paid off with her workers compensation. And like the psychopath she is, she decorated their new house with pitchforks, rakes, machetes, old boots, leather jackets, rusty animal traps, skulls, horns, and animal skins. There was not a spot on the house that wasn’t covered.
In 1989, the happy couple got into an argument and Katherine hit him in the face with an iron and then stabbed him with scissors. Saunders left, but it wasn’t long before he returned home, and found Katherine cutting his clothes into tiny little pieces. Months later, he came back to see his daughter, but Katherine had been given an Apprehended Violence Order against him. Just so everybody is clear, and AVO is an Australian order to protect victims of domestic violence when they are fearful of future violence or threats to their safety. They are basically a restraining order.
Katherine wasn’t done procreating and had another child in 1990 by a 43-year-old, John Chillingworth. The next year, she gave birth to a son, Eric. This would be the only romantic relationship Katherine had that didn’t include outrageous acts of violence. Chillingworth left her after the three years together once he found out that she had been having an affair with John Price.
The relationship with John Price started out like any normal affair. They decided to move in together in 1995. Price had two children who lived with him, and they seemed to get along with Katherine. Price was a miner, and it paid enough to keep everybody comfortable. This comfort didn’t last long for Katherine, though. When she asked for him to marry her, he turned her down, and I’ll let you guess at how Katherine reacted to this.
By the time Price got together with Katherine, he knew her reputation. Maybe he believed the relationship was going to be different, or he may have expected a certain amount of abuse, but never did he imagine that his love for Katherine would end like it did. When Katherine couldn’t convince Price to marry her, she stole his money and bought an engagement ring for herself. When Price continued to turn her down, she went after his livelihood.
Katherine was aware of the fact that Price had been stealing expired first aid kits from the trash at work, so she told them. After 17 years on the job, Price was fired. Price left Katherine, but they were back together after only a few months. A lot of arguing took place during this time, and Katherine was determined to make Price’s life as rough as possible. She tried to control the house, which Price owned. She fought with his children and even lied to his friends and co-workers saying that Price had molested her daughters.
During one of their fights, Katherine stabbed him. Finally, once he realized how much danger he was in, Price filed for a restraining order on February 29, 2000, but was told that the process could take several weeks. That same day, Price told his co-workers and friends that if he didn’t come into work the next day, it was because Katherine had killed him.
Price knew that Katherine wanted him dead, but hormones are powerful. On the night of February 29th, Katherine went to his house as he was sleeping. They had sex, and Price dozed off. We all know how Katherine feels about post coitul napping. As she gripped hold of her recently-sharpened knife, Katherine plunged the blade into her sleeping partner. Price jumped out of the bed and ran outside, but Katherine overpowered him and stabbed him 37 more times. According to the autopsy, most of these stabs hit vital organs.
Detective Senior Constable Peter Anthony Muscio 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.”
When Katherine started to stab Price, she was just getting started. She was ensuring that she would become one of the most notorious killers in the history of Australia, and the most notorious female killer. Katherine was skilled at butchering, and Price’s body was her next project. She first skinned him and hung the skin from hook in the living room. He was already dead when she skinned him, so I suppose that’s a good thing. Then she decapitated him and tossed his head into a pot with vegetables. At some point during all of this, she left and went to an ATM and pulled out $1000 from Price’s account.
Katherine would cook up several other body parts of Price’s, which included his buttocks. She served that like a steak with vegetables, gravy, and a baked potato. She had planned on serving the meals to Price’s children and laid the food out on two separate plates on the table with a handwritten, spiteful note. The notes were barely legible, as she had never learned how to properly write, but she accused him of raping her daughter, which was proven to be a lie. There was a third meal found splatter across the back lawn. Police speculate that Katherine tried to eat it, but couldn’t
But as we have come to learn, Crazy Kathy was far from done. After she put out the place cards for his children, she placed the rest of Price’s skinned body on his favorite chair and crossed his legs. While Katherine had slaughtered and cooked him, she didn’t indulge herself in any of her creations. Sensing the amount of trouble she had just gotten herself into, Katherine took a handful of pills and tried to end her own life. She laid down beside the headless, skinned corpse, and passed out, but she did not die.
Fortunately for the elder Price kids, they didn’t have to eat their father. They had been out the night before and had not gotten back. When a neighbor saw that Price’s car was still in the driveway and he hadn’t left for work, they had knocked on the door to check on him. When there was no answer, and they saw blood on the doorknob, they phoned the police.
When Katherine came to, she said that she didn’t remember the crime. Her trail was to start in October 2001. Her lawyers had planned on defending her on the basis of amnesia and dissociation, but she quickly changed her plea to guilty. There was never a reason given for the guilty plea, but the judge likely urged then to take the route as getting a jury together have been difficult due to the nature of the crime. At the sentencing hearing, her lawyers had requested that she be excused, but the application was refused. When Timothy Lyons took the stand and described the decapitation and skinning, Knight became hysterical and had to be sedated.
On November, Justice O’Keefe said that due to the nature of the crime and her lack of remorse required a severe penalty. She was sentence to life in prison and he order that her papers be marked as “never to be released.” This was the first time an Australian woman had ever receive such a sentence. Katherine Knight’s reign of terror was finally over. There would be no other men that she could terrorized. However, in June 2006, she tried to appeal the life sentence, claiming it was too severe for the killing. Justices Peter McClellan, Michael Adams, and Megan Latham dismissed the appeal, with Justice McClellan saying, “This was an appalling crime, almost beyond contemplation in a civilized society.” She turned 65 on October 24th and is serving her sentence at Silverwater Woman’s Correctional Centre.
Her story doesn’t end there though. Before she changed her plea, and she was facing trail, she was interviewed by three psychiatrists to determine if she was sane. They all agreed that she was indeed sane and knew exactly what she had been doing the night of Price’s murder, but they did diagnose her with borderline personality disorder.
BPD is a serious mental illness that is centered on a person’s inability to manage a person’s emotions effectively. The disorder can be caused by several things, including sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, as well as bullying, neglect, and loss. Some are at a greater risk of developing BPD because of their genetic makeup, and childhood experiences can up their risk.
Due to intense, internal emotional conflict, those who suffer from BPD can take unnecessary risks, have extreme mood swings, and suffer from severe bouts of anxiety, depression, or anger. They often struggle with maintaining relationships, performing at work, and managing their tasks at home. At one time it was believed the BPD could not be treated, but we now know that’s not true. It can be hard to treat, but if a person sincerely wants to get better, they can have great success through medication and therapy.
And while there are some people in prison for violent acts that have BPD and other mental illnesses, they make up a very some population of violent criminals at only three to five percent. In fact, those with mental illness are more like to be the victim of violent crimes than the rest of the population.
Basically, BPD may explain why Katherine had such violent actions, but it is extremely rare for a person with BPD to do such evil things. It definitely wasn’t the only contributing factor. There was like a combination of genetic factors and a tragic childhood to blame for her actions.
Something that a lot of people do not realize is that Katherine has a twin who didn’t take such a psychotic path in life. Why one sibling can become so deeply mentally disturbed while the other leads a seemingly normal life is still a mystery.
You may be wondering what Katherine’s life behind bars is like, after all, she was the first Australian woman to be sentenced to life in prison. She starts her day bright and early, and by 8 AM, she is in the factory making headphones. It’s noisy, but she does a great job and is one of the best workers. The shift ends at 1 and she promptly goes to lunch. After that, she head back to her cell which has a bed, clothes, and a table that she can use for writing letters and doing art.
Katherine spends her free time painting, knitting, and crocheting. She has even dabbled in pottery. While she donates a lot of what she does to raise money for charity and the jail, she won’t sign the work because she doesn’t want her work bough because they think what she did was cool. According to a former inmate there, Katherine does not receive any contact from her family and friends on the outside.
Inside she is known as Nan, and is a kind and gentle person and mentors the newer inmates. She has become a peacemaker and will try to prevent and breakup arguments. She has never misbehaved, though she doesn’t have a problem with telling people off, including the guards when they search her cell.
Despite the fact that she has a caring nature, the other inmates know not to challenge her. Katherine Knight was a miserable women who had a terrible childhood and she took out all of that rage on those who she was supposed to love the most. Not only was she terrified of being along, she was terrified of not being in control. The reasons for not signing her artwork goes to show that she understands that what she did to Price was wrong, but that does not mean she had any empathy for what happened. We probably won’t ever know exactly why she turned out so evil.