Katherine Knight: Australia’s First Life-Imprisoned Woman

April 6, 2018

Written by Capt McNeely

Georgia Division ZADF Twitter: @ZADF_ORG

Mother…Wife…Neighbor…Murderer…Butcher…Frying pan enthusiast…possible cannibal…All of these things apply to the first woman in Australia ever to be sentenced to life without parole, Katherine Knight.
Katherine was born in 1955 as the result of an affair between her mother and her married father.  She witnessed rape and abuse all throughout her growing up years and it certainly left a mark on her psyche (her father allegedly attempted to rape her mother multiple times each day). She and her siblings were moved around to different family members to be raised, but nothing ever really stuck.  Katherine was violent, cruel, and ruthless.  The only person in the town of Aberdeen that Katherine found any comfort in was her uncle Oscar who tragically committed suicide in 1969.  Katherine, in her mind, was left alone although she still maintains that she is visited by his ghost.

In 1973, after growing up in these horrific conditions, Katherine eventually met and married her co-worker David Kellett.  Kellett had very little authority in the relationship that started with violence on their wedding night.  After only three rounds, Katherine remained sexually unsatisfied and turned to the only other thing that could scratch her itch…violence.  She attempted to strangle her new husband before fracturing his skull with a frying pan.
The frying pan would make many returns to Kellett’s head.  Once he was beaten with it after Katherine burned all of his clothes due to his being late coming home from a darts competition where he made it to the finals.

Knight and Kellett

Kellett stayed with his violent wife long enough to have a baby girl, Melissa Ann.  The violence then got much, much darker.  After being seen tossing the baby roughly to the ground in her stroller, Katherine was admitted to St. Elmo’s Hospital where she was diagnosed with extreme postnatal depression.  The weeks she spent in the hospital were not enough for Katherine because shortly after her release she placed her two-month old daughter across the train tracks.  Luckily, a man working nearby got to little Melissa right before the train did.  Katherine was once again admitted into St. Elmo’s, but was released the very next day!
David Kellett was gone by this time and Katherine was desperate to find him.  At knife-point, she convinced a woman to drive her to go find her estranged husband.  After slashing the driver’s face and stopping to take a mechanic hostage at a service station (because he had fixed Kellett’s car and given him the means of leaving), police took her to the Morisset Psychiatric Hospital.  While in hospital, Katherine admitted to intentions of killing the mechanic.  When Kellett heard of the incident, he left his girlfriend and came back to Katherine to take care of her.  Katherine and David resumed their relationship and actually had a second daughter before separating for good.
By the time 1986 came, Katherine met David Saunders.  He wasn’t quite the pushover that David Kellett had been…at least not at first.  Saunders kept his own apartment so that he had a place to escape to when Katherine went into one of her now-famous violent tirades.  Katherine became more and more violent as time progressed and one day felt that she needed to show her boyfriend what would happen if he ever had an affair…she grabbed David’s two-month old puppy and slit its throat right in front of him.

Infuriatingly, Saunders and Katherine had a child, another daughter.  The growing family did not help with the violence.  After a fight where David smashed an iron into Katherine’s face and she stabbed him with scissors, David moved away…far away.
Following David Saunders, Katherine entered another relationship with a man named John Chillingworth.  This relationship lasted three years and produced a son.  Katherine left Chillingworth for a man she had been having an affair with for quite some time.  This new man was John Price.
John “Pricey” Price was known and liked by everyone.  He had three children of his own and, although fully aware of Katherine’s violent nature, he moved in with her and life was “a bunch of roses.”

Knight and Price

Trouble really began between the two when Price refused to marry Katherine. Hurt, angry, and malicious, Katherine videotaped a number of items that Price had scavenged from work (out of date first aid kits) and sent the tape to his boss.  Price was fired from his job of 17 years.  He now REALLY refused to marry Katherine and even kicked her out of his house.  Somehow, a few months later, Katherine convinced Price to take her back and the couple reunited.  But the fighting and violence increased. It got so bad that Price’s friends refused to be with him if Katherine was around.
After more frying pans, screaming matches in public, violence and Katherine stabbing him in the chest, Price finally told his friends that if he didn’t show up to work it was because Katherine had murdered him.
The next day, Price didn’t show up for work.
Worried, his friends went over to John Price’s home and quickly called the police after seeing blood on the door.  What the police found still haunts them to this day.  Amidst blood covering the walls and floor, Price’s body was skinned, decapitated and hanging from meat hooks in the hallway.  In the kitchen there were plates labelled for each of the children filled with potatoes, beets, pumpkin, and John’s human flesh.

Katherine was found in the bedroom covered in blood and passed out after ingesting huge quantities of sleeping pills.  Her suicide attempt failed and she was arrested.
After pleading manslaughter, changing it to not guilty, and then changing it again to guilty, Katherine’s team attempted the defense of body dysmorphia.  On November 8, 2001 Justice Barry O’Keefe, focusing on the brutal nature of the crime and the complete lack of remorse from Katherine, sentenced the murderer to life imprisonment “never to be released.”
It has never been proven if Katherine herself ate her partner, but the crimes are grisly enough even if she isn’t a cannibal.  Knight remains locked away and will remain there the rest of her life.

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