Born in Aberdeen, New South Wales, Australia, Katherine Knight had a turbulent upbringing. Her father was an alcoholic who frequently beat and raped her mother. Katherine was sexually abused by several members of her family (not her father) until the age of 11.
As she grew up, she became increasingly violent and short-fused. She would often be spotted fighting other kids in the playground with her twin sister. Over the course of thirty years, she had four children by three different men. “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,” warned her mother to her first husband.
On one occasion, she slit the throat of a puppy in front of her stunned husband and on another occasion, she tried to kill her new born by placing her on train tracks. During her first marriage, she almost killed her husband after setting his clothing on fire and bludgeoning him across the head with a frying pan. Her second husband received a punishment just as grim when Katherine stabbed him with scissors.
Katherine met John Price, a father of three, in 1993, and struck up a relationship. Katherine, who now worked in an abattoir slaughtering animals, soon moved in with him and two of his children despite the fact that she was known to be violent and cruel towards him. After an argument over his refusal to marry her, Katherine sent his boss a videotape of him stealing out of date supplies from the bin at work. After 17 years working in the mines, John was fired.
News soon wended around the town that Katherine was the one who got John fired and he subsequently kicked her out of his house. The final straw for John came in February of 2000 when Katherine stabbed him. John filed a restraining order against Katherine and on the 29th of February, he told his colleagues if he didn’t return to work the following morning then Katherine has killed him.
That evening, Katherine put on a black night gown, had sex with John, and then attacked him with a knife. He was chased from the bedroom down the hallway as he tried to escape the frenzy. He suffered 37 stab wounds before collapsing at the front door.1
Using the skills that she had honed from working in the abattoir, Katherine then skinned John’s body by making an incision between the shoulders and cutting down to the pubic hairline. She then cut down the front of each leg and back of each arm. She hanged John’s flayed skin from a meat hook in the living room.2
Katherine then dismembered and beheaded John and chopped the flesh from his body. She took the flesh to the kitchen and cooked it in a stew with some gravy and vegetables. She boiled his head in the stove. Katherine then set the table and waited for his children to come home. She planned on serving them their own father.3
Thankfully, police arrived at the scene before John’s children. Even the most seasoned police officers had to undergo counselling for years after witnessing the grim crime scene.
Following the murder, Katherine was inconsistent about her memory of the event and claimed to have no recollection of what had actually happened. According to Dr. Robert Delaforce, a forensic psychiatrist, Katherine had given numerous inconsistent remarks about what she had done. He believed that she was faking profound memory loss. “Ms. Knight is one of the most inconsistent people I have ever interviewed,” he said.4
In October of 2001, Katherine pleaded guilty to the murder. John’s children said that they were relieved that a jury had been spared hearing the graphic details of their father’s death, details that would haunt them for the rest of their lives. His son, Johnathon, said: “It’s not going to change what’s happened. It’s a pity she didn’t say it 12 months ago. Nobody knows the extent of what she did…”
A sentencing hearing would follow and Crown Prosecutor Mark MacAdam QC indicated that psychiatric reports and four videos, including one of the crime scene, would be presented. There was also a home video which had been made by Katherine around the time of the murder which would show her state of mind at the time.5
When the video depicting the crime scene was played out, Katherine asked to be excused. They showed that in addition to finding John’s mutilated body, they discovered pitchforks hanging from the living room ceiling as well as animal hides and stuffed animals hung on the wall. The court heard how the dead animals were part of a “museum” that Katherine had created and that she didn’t believe that the animals were dead.
During the sentencing hearing, a forensic psychologist described 37 stab wounds that were inflicted on John. Dr. Timothy Lyons described wounds of varying depths to his chest, back, buttocks and the backs of his leg. A number of wounds penetrated his aorta, kidneys, liver and stomach. He described how John had died from multiple injuries secondary to multiple stab wounds.6
Senior Constable Peter Muscio testified about the crime scene. As he described finding John’s body, Katherine began making clicking noises with her teeth and rocking in her seat. She then threw herself to the ground and started flailing her arms and legs. She had to be removed from the court room. The officer continued to testify and told the court room that three knives were discovered in the home which contained John’s blood.7
Testimony was also presented from Dr. Robert Delaforce who explained that Katherine had exhibited “absolutely perverted behaviour” known as picquerism wherein she felt pleasure in the “total power” she had over John when she stabbed him to death. He said that in earlier relationships with men, Katherine had exhibited “payback” behaviour and had violent fantasies.8
Katherine’s defence lawyer, Peter Thraves, begged the judge for leniency and asked for Katherine not to be sentenced to life in prison. Mr Justice Barry O’Keefe said that the case went into the highest category of abhorrence in a murder. He further stated that Katherine had shown no evidence of remorse and had not offered an apology.
Katherine Knight was the first woman in Australia to be sent to prison for the term of her natural life. When handing down the sentence, Justice O’Keefe said: “The last minutes of Mr. Price’s life must have been a time of abject terror for him, as they were a time of utter enjoyment for her.”9
- Newcastle Herald, 6 November, 2001 – “Cold Killer in Plea for Mercy”
- Maitland Mercury, 23 October, 2001 – “Police Find Dead Animals in House”
- The Courier Mail, 19 October, 2001 – “Woman Serves Up Her Lover for Dinner”
- Newcastle Herald, 1 November, 2000 – “Expert Rejects Memory Loss Over Death”
- Maitland Mercury, 18 October, 2001 – “Jury Dismissed as Knight Pleads Guilty”
- Newcastle Herald, 20 October, 2001 – “Skinned Partner Had 37 Wounds”
- The Daily Telegraph, 26 October, 2001 – “Murderer Dragged from Court”
- The Daily Telegraph, 27 October, 2001 – “Mother’s Perverted Pleasure”
- Newcastle Herald, 9 November, 2001 – “Life For an Evil Killer”