Katherine Mary 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.
Investigators 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 1984.
In Philadelphia 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.
When 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 daughter.
The Dark Past
Australia’s dark 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 cannibalism.
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 in 1824.
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.
His black-market 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.
Albert Fish, the “Grey Man”
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 1928-1934.
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 of her.
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.
When police 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.
Chikatilo was 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 Citizen X.
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 were incomprehensible.
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.
Dahmer admitted 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.
Australia ‘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.
But not 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
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.
Joy Hinder, Katherine’s Twin Sister
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.
Given 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 another woman.
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.
The 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.
But 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 named Sarah.
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 1989.
Katherine’s house in the middle of Aberdeen, which was boarded up later
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 gave up.
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.
It 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.
John Price drinking with Katherine
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 death warrant.
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.
Pricey’s house on St. Andrews Street
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.
Their 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 give. 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 front door.
A 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 Andrew Street.
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 eastern boundary.
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 human skin.
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 the laundry.
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.
The 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 centimeters.
I 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 to touch.
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 stone.
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.
As 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 cavity.
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:-
“Time got you back Johathon for rapping (raping) my douter (daughter). You to Beck for Ross — for Little John.’
‘Now play with little Johns Dick John Price.’ (These allegations 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 intestines.
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.
The 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 minutes.
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 teller machine.
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.
John Price’s Family
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 her mind.
In 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.