Katherine Knight the Murd-erer of John Price

Katherine Mary Knight, born on October 24, 1955, is an Australian convict, marking a grim milestone as the first woman in the nation’s annals to receive a life sentence without the chance of parole. Her conviction stems from the slaying of her partner, John Charles Thomas Price, in February 2000. Currently, Knight serves her sentence at the Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre in New South Wales.

In a gruesome act, she fatally st*bbed Price, proceeded to skin him, and then hung his skin on a recently installed meat hook. Following this, she attempted to cook his head and some parts of his body, with the disturbing intention of serving them to Price’s adult children. Fortunately, police intervened when an employee, noticing Price’s absence from work, went to check on him that day.

Early life and family

Katherine Knight was born into a non-traditional and troubled family environment. Her mother, Barbara Roughan (née Thorley), was previously married to Jack Roughan and resided with him in Aberdeen, a small town in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley. They had four sons, but Barbara started an extramarital relationship with Ken Knight, a colleague of her husband.

The community’s disapproval forced Barbara and Ken to relocate to Moree. None of her sons accompanied her; the two eldest remained with their father, while the two younger sons were sent to live with an aunt in Sydney.sta

Barbara had four more children with Ken, including Katherine, who was a twin. In 1959, when Knight was four, Jack Roughan passed away, and his two older sons moved in with Barbara and Ken.

Ken was a violent alcoholic, often raping Barbara up to ten times a day. Barbara shared intimate details of her tumultuous s*x life with her daughters and expressed her disdain for s*x and men. When Katherine shared her discomfort about a partner asking her to perform a se*ual act she did not wish to do, Barbara advised her to “put up with it and stop complaining.” Katherine alleges she was se*ually abused by several family members (excluding her father), which continued until she was eleven. Although there are disputes about the specifics, psychiatrists accept her claims, which have been largely corroborated by other family members.

Barbara’s great-grandmother was an Indigenous Australian from the Moree area who had married an Irishman. Barbara identified as Aboriginal and took pride in her heritage, although it was kept a family secret due to the rampant racism in the area. Apart from her twin sister, Katherine was close to her uncle, Oscar Knight, a champion horseman. She was devastated when he committed suicide in 1969 and claims his ghost still visits her. The family returned to Aberdeen the same year.

At Muswellbrook high school, Katherine was a loner and known for bullying smaller children. She assaulted at least one boy with a weapon and was once injured by a teacher in self-defense. However, when not in a rage, Knight was a well-behaved student, often receiving awards for her good conduct.

After leaving school at fifteen without learning to read or write, she found work as a cutter in a clothing factory. A year later, she began her “dream job” at the local abattoir, where she quickly advanced to boning and was provided with her own set of butchers’ knives. At home, she hung the knives above her bed for easy access, a habit she maintained until her incarceration, regardless of where she lived.

Marriage to David Kellett

Katherine Knight’s acquaintance with co-worker David Stanford Kellett dates back to 1973. Kellett, grappling with heavy drinking, bore the scars of two traumatic incidents during his previous railway tenure in Coffs Harbour. The first involved the tragic demise of his best friend in a shunting accident, while the second saw him heroically rescuing injured occupants of a school bus struck by a train in Kempsey, resulting in the loss of six children. Despite his struggles, Kellett eventually lost his railway job due to deteriorating behavior and performance. However, he found employment at the nearby Aberdeen abattoir, where he struck up a close friendship with Knight’s brother.

Knight, known for her confrontational nature in Aberdeen, frequently intervened physically in conflicts involving Kellett. Their relationship escalated to marriage in 1974, at Knight’s insistence, with the unconventional wedding entrance of Knight and Kellett on her motorcycle, the latter heavily intoxicated in the pillion seat. Knight’s mother, Barbara, offered a stark warning to Kellett upon their union, advising him to tread carefully with her daughter, emphasizing Knight’s volatile temperament and penchant for extreme reactions, even to the extent of violence.

Their marriage quickly descended into a cycle of violence. On one occasion, a pregnant Knight incinerated all of Kellett’s belongings and assaulted him with a frying pan upon his late return from a darts competition. In a desperate bid to escape the abuse, Kellett fled to a neighbor’s house, where he was found with a severe skull fracture. Despite police interest in pressing charges against Knight, she manipulated Kellett into dropping the charges, resorting to ingratiating behavior to maintain control over him.

In May 1976, shortly after the birth of their first child, Melissa Ann, Kellett made the difficult decision to leave Knight for another woman and relocated to Queensland, unable to endure the abuse any longer. The following day, witnesses observed Knight aggressively pushing her newborn in a pram along the main street, recklessly swaying the pram from side to side. Concerned for her well-being, Knight was admitted to St Elmo’s Hospital in Tamworth, where doctors diagnosed her with postnatal depression.

She underwent several weeks of treatment before being discharged. However, upon her release, Knight committed a horrifying act by placing her two-month-old daughter on a railway line shortly before a train was scheduled to pass. She then stole an axe, threatened multiple people in town, and was ultimately apprehended. Fortunately, a man known as “Old Ted” discovered and rescued Melissa just moments before the train approached.

Subsequently, Knight’s erratic behavior continued. She assaulted a woman with a knife, demanding transportation to Queensland to locate Kellett. The woman managed to escape when they stopped at a service station, prompting Knight to take a young boy hostage with the knife. Police intervened, disarming Knight using brooms, and she was admitted to Morisset Psychiatric Hospital. During her stay, Knight expressed her intent to kill the mechanic who repaired Kellett’s car, enabling his departure, as well as Kellett and his mother upon her arrival in Queensland. Upon learning of the incident, Kellett abandoned his girlfriend and returned to Aberdeen with his mother to support Knight.

Released on August 9, 1976, into the care of her mother-in-law, Knight, accompanied by Kellett, relocated to Ipswich, a city west of Brisbane, where she secured employment at the Dinmore meatworks. On March 6, 1980, they welcomed another daughter, Natasha Maree. However, in 1984, Knight ended her relationship with Kellett, moving first to her parents’ residence in Aberdeen and later to a rented house in nearby Muswellbrook. Despite her return to work at the abattoir, she suffered a back injury in the subsequent year, leading to her qualification for a disability pension. With no need to reside close to her workplace, the government allocated her a Housing Commission residence in Aberdeen.

Other relationships

David Saunders

In 1986, Knight encountered David Saunders, a 38-year-old miner. Within a few months, Saunders moved in with Knight and her daughters, though he retained his apartment in Scone. Knight’s jealousy quickly surfaced, leading to frequent episodes of throwing Saunders out when she suspected his activities in her absence. Despite this, Saunders would often return to his apartment, only to be pursued by Knight who pleaded for his return.

In May 1987, Knight exhibited a disturbing display of violence by slashing the throat of Saunders’ two-month-old dingo pup in front of him, as a chilling warning against infidelity, before rendering him unconscious with a frying pan. The following year, Knight gave birth to their third daughter, Sarah. This event prompted Saunders to make a down payment on a house, with Knight settling the deposit when her workers’ compensation came through in 1989. Knight proceeded to adorn the entire house with an array of macabre decorations including animal skins, skulls, horns, rusty animal traps, leather jackets, old boots, machetes, rakes, and pitchforks, leaving no space untouched, not even the ceilings.

An altercation ensued, resulting in Knight assaulting Saunders by striking him in the face with an iron before st*bbing him in the abdomen with scissors. Following this incident, Saunders returned to Scone, only to discover upon his later return to Aberdeen that Knight had vandalized all his clothes. Fearing for his safety, Saunders took an extended leave and went into hiding. Despite Knight’s attempts to locate him, Saunders remained elusive. Several months later, when Saunders returned to visit his daughter, he learned that Knight had falsely accused him to the police, leading to the issuance of an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) against him.

John Chillingworth

In 1991, Knight conceived a child with John Chillingworth, a 43-year-old former co-worker from the abattoir, and subsequently gave birth to a son named Eric in the following year. Their relationship endured for three years until Knight decided to leave Chillingworth for another man, John Price, with whom she had been involved in an ongoing affair.

John Price

John Charles Thomas Price, born on April 4, 1955, was a father of three children when he engaged in an affair with Knight. Described as a “terrific bloke” and well-liked by everyone who knew him, Price had gone through a divorce in 1988. While his youngest daughter remained with his former wife, Price took care of the two older children. Aware of Knight’s violent reputation, Price allowed her to move into his house in 1995. Despite occasional violent arguments, life initially seemed idyllic, with Price earning a substantial income from his work in the local mines, and his children developing a fondness for Knight.

However, in 1998, tensions arose between Knight and Price when he refused to marry her. In retaliation, Knight videotaped items she claimed Price had stolen from work and sent the footage to his employer. Despite the fact that the items were outdated medical kits scavenged from the company’s rubbish tip, Price lost his job, which he had held for seventeen years. That same day, Price ejected Knight from his home, and she returned to her own residence as word of her actions spread throughout the town.

Several months later, Price resumed the relationship, but he refused to allow Knight to move back in with him. The frequency of their fights increased, leading most of Price’s friends to distance themselves from him while he remained involved with Knight.

Mur-der of John Price

In February 2000, lots of bad things happened to Price. Knight hurt him by st*bbing him in the chest, and he got really mad. He told her to leave his house. On February 29th, he stopped at the Scone Magistrate’s Court on his way to work. He wanted to make sure Knight couldn’t come near him or his kids, so he got a paper called a restraining order.

Later that day, Price told his friends at work that if he didn’t show up the next day, it meant Knight had k*lled him. They begged him not to go home because they were worried about him and his kids. Price was scared that if he went home, Knight might hurt his children.

When Price got home, he found out that Knight had sent the kids to a friend’s house for a sleepover. He spent the evening with his neighbors and went to bed at 11 p.m. Afterward, she woke Price, and they engaged in se*ual activity, following which he fell asleep.

The next morning at 6 a.m., a neighbor got worried because Price’s car was still in his driveway, and he didn’t show up for work. His boss sent someone to check on him. Both the neighbor and the worker tried to wake Price by knocking on his bedroom window. But when they saw blood on the front door, they got really scared and called the police.

The police had to break down the back door to get inside. They found Price’s body, and Knight was in a coma from taking lots of pills. She had st*bbed Price with a big knife while he was sleeping. The blood showed that he woke up and tried to turn on the light before trying to run away while Knight chased him into the house. He made it outside, but he either fell back in or was pulled back into the hallway, where he eventually d*ed from losing too much blood.

Later, Knight went to Aberdeen and took out $1,000 from Price’s bank account using an ATM. Price’s autopsy showed that he had been st*bbed at least 37 times, in both the front and back of his body, with many of the wounds going into his important organs.

After several hours had passed since Price died, Knight did something extremely horrifying. She skinned him and hung his skin from a meat hook on the door to the living room. Then, she cut off Price’s head and cooked parts of his body. She served this gru*some meal with baked potato, carrot, pumpkin, beetroot, zucchini, cabbage, yellow squash, and gravy at the dinner table. There were notes next to each plate, with the names of Price’s children on them. She was getting ready to serve Price’s body parts to his own kids.

Strangely, there was a third meal thrown out in the backyard, and it’s not clear why. Some people think Knight might have tried to eat it but couldn’t. She claims she can’t remember the crime, and this weird meal supports her story.

Price’s head was found in a pot with vegetables, and the pot was still warm like it had been cooked in the early morning. Later on, Knight arranged Price’s body with one arm hanging over an empty 1.25-liter soft drink bottle and the legs crossed. This was seen as a way to disrespect Price and show her hatred for him.

On top of a picture of Price, she left a handwritten note that was covered in blood and bits of flesh. It said:

“Time got you back Johathon for rapping [r*ping] my douter [daughter]. You to Beck [Price’s daughter] for Ross – for Little John [his son]. Now play with little Johns dick John Price. (sic)”


At first, Knight offered to plead guilty to mansl*ughter, but her offer was turned down. Instead, she was charged with mu*dering Price on March 2, 2001. She entered a plea of not guilty. Her trial was initially set for July 23, 2001, but it got delayed because her lawyer got sick. It was rescheduled for October 15, 2001.

When the trial started, Justice Barry O’Keefe gave the 60 potential jurors the choice to be excused because of the graphic evidence involved. Five jurors decided to leave. When the list of witnesses was read to the potential jurors, a few more also dropped out. Eventually, a jury was selected. Knight’s lawyers then talked to the judge, who adjourned the trial until the next day. The following morning, Knight changed her plea to guilty, and the jury was dismissed.

It later became public that Justice O’Keefe had been informed about the plea change the day before. He had adjourned the trial and ordered a psychiatric evaluation overnight to make sure Knight understood what it meant to plead guilty and was mentally fit to do so. Knight’s legal team had originally planned to defend her by claiming amnesia and dissociation, a stance supported by most psychiatrists, although they believed she was sane. Two psychiatrists concluded that Knight had a borderline personality disorder.

Even though she pleaded guilty, Knight still wouldn’t admit responsibility for her actions. During the sentencing hearing, her lawyers asked that she be excused from hearing some of the gru*some details, but the request was denied. When a witness described the skinning and decapitation, Knight became hysterical and had to be sedated.

On November 8, Justice O’Keefe noted the heinous nature of the crime and Knight’s lack of remorse, leading him to impose a severe penalty. He sentenced her to life in prison without specifying a parole period and ordered that she never be released, marking the first time such a sentence was given to a woman in Australian history.

In June 2006, Knight appealed her life sentence, arguing that it was too harsh for the crime. However, in September, the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal, consisting of Justices Peter McClellan, Michael Adams, and Megan Latham, dismissed the appeal. Justice McClellan stated in his judgment, “This was an appalling crime, almost beyond contemplation in a civilized society.”


Reports indicate that Knight has assumed a leadership position among fellow inmates at Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre, serving as a mediator to resolve disputes. As of July 2017, she had maintained a clean disciplinary record in prison, devoid of any incidents of violence or charges.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Katherine Knight, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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