Katherine Mary Knight - Deadly Dames
27-03-2020    745 times
Katherine Mary Knight

Born in Tenterfield, New South Wales on the 24th October 1955, Katherine Mary Knight was the first Australian woman to be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. She was born and brought up in an unusual and unconventional family environment and had a terrible childhood. Her mother, Barbara, was living with her husband Jack Roughan and their four sons in the small town of Aberdeen in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley. When she began an adulterous relationship with Ken Knight, a friend and co-worker of her husband, it caused a scandal in the conservative rural town and the pair was forced to move away from Aberdeen to Moree in Northern New South Wales. Barbara had four more children with Ken including a set of twin girls, of which Katherine was the youngest.

However, Ken Knight was a chronic alcoholic and he openly forced Barbara for sexual activity, even up to ten times a day. Barbara often described her daughters the intimate details of her sex life and how much she hated sex and men. However, when Knight complained to her mother that one of her partners wanted her to take part in a sex act she did not want to perform, Barbara told her to tolerate it without complaining. Much later she complained that she was frequently sexually assaulted by several members of her family, which continued until she was 11.

katherine mary knight

As the family moved back to Aberdeen in 1969, Katherine Knight attended the Muswellbrook High School, where she became a loner. Though she was a model student and often earned awards for her good behaviour, she was remembered by her classmates as a bully. Once she was accused of assaulting one boy with a knife and in another incident was injured by a teacher, who was subsequently found to have acted in self defense. Without having learned to read or write, she left the school at 15 and took a job as a cutter in a clothing factory. After a year, she left it to start her dream job of cutting up offal at the local slaughterhouse and within a short time was promoted for her dedication to boning. She was also given her own personal set of butcher's knives, which she always kept hanging over her bed, as it would be handy if she needed them

Private Teacher

Katherine Knight first met hard-drinking co-worker David Stanford Kellett in 1973 and after dating for a few months, married him after a year in 1974.However, domestic violence started from the wedding night, when Katherine tried to strangle David, as he fell asleep after having only three intercourses. On another day, as because he arrived home very late at night from a dart competition after reaching the finals, a heavily pregnant Knight burned all of his clothing and shoes, before hitting him violently across the back of the head with a frying pan. After that, she fled in panic before collapsing before the entrance of a neighbour’s house and David was later treated for his severely fractured skull. Police wanted to initiate charge her for the alleged violent action, but finally Katherine persuaded her terrified husband to talk them into dropping the charges.

Katherine Knight and David Kellett
Katherine Knight and David Kellett, on their wedding day in 1974.

Apparently being unable to tolerate her violent attitude any more, David Kellett left Katherine for another woman and fled to Queensland in May 1976, shortly after the birth of their first child, Melissa Ann. On the following day, Katherine was seen swinging the perambulator of her baby from side to side down a busy street and was immediately admitted to St Elmo's Hospital, where she was diagnosed with postnatal depression and treated for several weeks. However, shortly after her release, she coolly placed her little child on a railway line, shortly before the train was due and after that, went into the town with a stolen axe and threatened to kill a number of people. While the child was fortunately saved by a local, barely a minute before the arrival of the scheduled train, Katherine Knight was again admitted to St. Elmo's Hospital, but signed herself out the next day. A few days after that, she slashed the face of a woman with one of her knives without any provocation and demanded a lift in her car to Queensland to find her husband. The terrified woman escaped after they stopped at a service station, but by the time police arrived, Knight had taken a young boy hostage and was threatening him with the knife. However, the show ended, when she was forcibly disarmed by the police and was admitted to the Morisset Psychiatric Hospital.

morisset psychiatric hospital
Morisset Psychiatric Hospital

In the mean time, as the police informed David Kellett about the incident, he left his girlfriend and moved to Aberdeen with his mother to provide support to Katherine. After she was released from the hospital, under the care of her mother-in-law, on 9 August 1976, she moved to Woodridge, along with David Kellett. Subsequently, she found an opening at the Dinmore Meatworks in nearby Ipswich and had a second daughter with David four years later, on 6 March 1980. However, she finally left David in 1984 and moved first to Aberdeen with her parents, then to a rented house in nearby Muswellbrook. Although she returned to join her job at the slaughterhouse, somehow she injured her back the following year and went on a disability pension.

katherine knight

In 1986, Katherine knight met 38-year-old miner David Saunders and within a few months he moved into her house in Aberdeen, along with her and her daughters. However, he kept his old apartment in Scone, which made Katherine suspicious about his character and often wondered about his movements in her absence. It always tormented her to accept that Saunders had a life separate from her and it caused her extreme emotional distress. Her jealousy often created unnecessary confrontations and Saunders was often thrown out of her house. Saunders repeatedly moved back to his apartment, only to be followed by Katherine, who persuaded him to move back to her. In May 1987, she brutally slashed the throat of his two-month-old dingo pup in front of him, apparently as a warning to indicate what would happen if he ever intend to cheat her. Despite everything, Saunders tried his best to stay with Knight and had a daughter with her in the June of 1988. But, finally he had to take long service leave and went into hiding, when in the course of a heated altercation she hit Saunders in the face with an iron before stabbing him in the stomach with a pair of scissors.

Tutorial at home
Tutorial at home

Katherine also had an adulterous affair with the 43-year-old John Chillingworth, one of her former co-workers at the slaughterhouse. She was impregnated by him in 1990 and the following year gave birth to a boy. Their relationship, mostly without any issue, lasted for three years before she left him for another man, John Charles Thomas Price.

John Charles Thomas Price
John Charles Thomas Price

John Price, whose marriage ended in 1988, was working in the local mines and making lots of money. After the divorce, he was living with his two older children, while his little daughter was under the custody of her former wife. When Katherine moved into his house in 1995, Price was pretty aware about her violent reputation. Nevertheless, life seemed to be sailing smoothly until 1998, when ignoring Katherine’s strong insistence Price refused to marry her. In her desperate attempt to take revenge, Katherine secretly videotaped the medical kits that John had stolen from his work and sent them to his boss. Although the medical kits that he collected stealthily from the rubbish tip of the company were out of date, Price was fired from his job of 17 years and consequently, Katherine was immediately kicked out of his house.

A few months later, they restarted the relationship, but this time, Price refused to allow her to move in with him. However, in February of 2000, an argument between the two ended, when Price received a minor chest injury after Katherine Knight attempted to stab him. Consequently, Knight was immediately kicked out again and on the next day, on his way to work, Price visited the Scone Magistrate’s Court to get a restraining order to keep her away from both himself and his children. At the end of the day, he also told his colleagues that if he does not report to work the next day, it would mean that the woman had killed him. The worried friends requested him not to return home and spend the night elsewhere, but he denied, as he was afraid that she would kill his children if he did not.

Price arrived home to find that though Knight not there in the house, she had come in his absence and had sent the children away for a sleepover at a friend's house. Price spent the evening with his neighbours, as if to say goodbye, returned home for dinner, watched TV and went to bed at about 11 pm. Later, when Knight arrived, she found Price sleeping in his bed. She watched TV for a few minutes, took her shower and woke up Price and insisted for sex. After that when Price fell asleep, Katherine Knight took one of her butcher knife and stabbed the sleeping Price 37 times.

the house in aberdeen where knights horrific murder of price took place
The house in Aberdeen where Knight’s horrific murder of Price took place

According to the postmortem report, Price woke up while she was stabbing him and eventually, after he succumbed, Knight dragged his body downstairs, skinned him, and hung his body from a meat hook hanging in the living room. However, that was not the end, she then decapitated him and cut up pieces of his body to cook in a dish with different assorted vegetables, made a dish for her, though from the half-discarded contents it appeared she could not or did not finish it. Apart from that, two more meals were kept on the dinner table beside notes indicating the names of his two children. His head was later found floating in a still-warm pot with cabbage and zucchini.

Next day, the neighbours became concerned as they found Price’s car still in the driveway. In the mean time, some of his worried colleagues also came to enquire about him, as his absence was noted at work. They alerted the police, as they notice blood on the front door. When the police broke the back door, they found the mutilated corpse of Price and Knight, sleeping in the bed, comatose from taking a large number of pills. Later in the day, when she came to her senses, she claimed to have no memory of the night before.

According to police, Knight had stabbed Price with a butcher's knife while he was asleep. He woke up in terror and tried to turn the light on before attempting to escape, while Knight maniacally chased him through the house. Somehow, he managed to open the front door and get outside, but unfortunately, either stumbled back inside or was dragged back into the hallway, where he finally died.

the bloody scene inside the house
The bloody scene inside the house where Katherine Knight skinned her boyfriend

Katherine Knight was promptly arrested and detained. Her initial offer to plead guilty to manslaughter was rejected and she was indicted on 2 March 2001 on the charge of murdering Price, to which she entered a plea of not guilty. Her legal team had tried to defend her by claiming amnesia and dissociation. Their claim was supported by most psychiatrists, though they did consider her sane. She was ultimately sentenced to life imprisonment on the 8th November 2001 and as she lacked remorse, her papers were ordered to be marked 'never to be released', which was never imposed before on a woman in Australia. Later, in June 2006, Knight appealed the life sentence in June 2006, claiming that a penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole was too severe for the killing. However, her appeal was turned down, as it was an appalling crime, almost beyond the contemplation in a civilized society.

katherine mary knight
    Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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