February 29, 2000
Aberdeen, New South Wales
Katherine Knight kills and mutilates her de facto partner John Price (both 44, pictured)

Warning: the details of this crime are graphic

Knight had had a long history of domestic abuse against her partners. She tried to strangle one former partner due to supposed sexual inadequacy (he had fallen asleep on their wedding night after the couple “only” had sex three times) while another partner was forced to watch his 8-week-old puppy be killed by Knight cutting its throat. Knight later claimed in court she killed the dog in retaliation for the partner allegedly kicking her in the stomach while she believed herself to be pregnant, a claim which the partner denied. The same partner was also knocked unconscious with a frying pan, his face burned with a clothing iron, and stabbed in the stomach with a pair of scissors.

On the night of February 29, Price had fallen asleep after he and Knight had sex. As he slept, Knight attacked Price with a butcher knife. A blood trail leading from the master bedroom, down the hall, and through the front door indicates Price managed to get outside his home briefly before he was dragged back inside and killed. He suffered at least 37 stab wounds; the exact number of stabs could not be determined due to the “ferocity of the attack.” The attack damaged several vital organs, including both lungs, one kidney, and the pancreas, liver, stomach, and colon.

Once Price had exsanguinated, Knight, a skilled meatworker by trade, flayed Price’s body into what was referred to as a pelt or “skin suit.” Court documents noted: “This was carried out with considerable expertise and an obviously steady hand, so that his skin — including that of the head, face, nose, ears, neck, torso, genital organs and legs — was removed so as to form one pelt. So expertly was it done that, after the post-mortem examination, the skin was able to be re-sown onto Mr Price’s body in a way which indicated a clear and appropriate, albeit grisly, methodology. At some time after Mr Price had been skinned the prisoner hung his pelt on a meat hook on the architrave of the door of the lounge room, where it remained until it was later removed by investigating police.”

After skinning Price, Knight beheaded his body and sliced off portions of his buttocks. She added his severed head into a pot with vegetables to make a stew and cooked his buttocks slices in the oven as steaks. Another piece of flesh was thrown into the yard, though “whether for consumption by dogs or for some other purpose is not revealed in the evidence.” The steaks and stew were prepared for Price’s older children, accompanied by “vindictive notes” to each written in Knight’s handwriting.

Police were called after co-workers were concerned at Price’s absence at work the next morning. He had filed for a restraining order against Knight and feared how she would react, and reportedly told colleagues if he was missing from work the following day it was likely that Knight had killed him. Responding officers noted blood on the front door and investigated. Along with the blood splattered throughout the home, the skin hanging from the hook, the meal made of human flesh, and Price’s decapitated body was Knight, unconscious on the floor from an apparent suicide attempt. She was brought to a hospital and treated for an overdose, then arrested when she regained consciousness.

Knight claimed she could not remember the events of Price’s murder and mutilation, and initially entered a plea of not guilty. She later changed her plea and was given a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, becoming the first woman in Australia to receive such a sentence.

Sources:
Wakatama, Giselle. “Remembering Katherine Mary Knight, Australia’s ‘female Hannibal Lecter’, 20 years on.” ABC. February 29, 2020. Accessed: February 29, 2020. https://amp.abc.net.au/article/12006996 (image source)
McNab, Duncan. “Katherine Knight butchers husband, John Price, then boils his head and plates him up.” 7 News. October 7, 2019. Accessed: February 29, 2020. https://7news.com.au/original-fyi/crime-story-investigator/katherine-knight-butchers-husband-john-price-then-boils-his-head-and-plates-him-up-c-483140.amp
Cartwright, Lexie. “Katherine Mary Knight, Australia’s worst female killer, profiled in new documentary.” New Zealand Herald. February 26, 2019. Accessed: February 29, 2020. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12207445
“Knight v R [2006] NSWCCA 292 (11 September 2006). CITATION: KNIGHT v REGINA [2006] NSWCCA 292. FILE NUMBER(S): 2001/2995. HEARING DATE(S): 28 June 2006. DECISION DATE: 11/09/2006.” Supreme Court of New South Wales. http://www8.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/nsw/NSWCCA/2006/292.html
“Woman killed partner, cooked body parts.” The Ottawa Citizen. November 9, 2001
Wendt, Greg. “Macabre killer first woman to get life.” The Sydney Morning Herald. November 9, 2001
“Head-in-a-pot confession.” The Sydney Morning Herald. October 19, 2001

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