It’s early morning in Australia’s Hunter Valley, and Katherine Knight is busy in the kitchen of her partner’s home. Chopping up vegetables and throwing them in the pot, she is preparing to serve his children a home-cooked meal. But the secret ingredient in this dish is something more awful than you can imagine.
Knight was one of twin girls born on October 24, 1955, in Tenterfield, a town in the New England region of New South Wales, Australia. At the time, her mother Barbara and father Ken were in the grip of an adulterous affair. As a result of this, Knight’s life was one of chaos and confusion from a young age.
When Knight was just four years old, Barbara’s real husband died. Duly, two of their sons moved in with the family, exacerbating an already troubled situation. Apparently, Ken was a violent alcoholic who often assaulted Barbara, causing the young Knight to develop skewed views about relationships and men.
Eventually, Knight began attending high school in Muswellbrook, a small town some 150 miles north of Sydney. There she developed a reputation as a loner. Although she could sometimes behave like a model student, she was known to burst out into fits of rage.
At 15, Knight left school, still unable to read or write. Nevertheless, she soon found a job that she loved. Employed by the local abbatoir, she excelled in the environment and rapidly rose through the ranks. Apparently, she was even given a personal set of knives – which she took home and hung above her bed.
In 1973, Knight began a relationship with an alcoholic co-worker named David Kellett. And even though Knight’s own mother warned him that her daughter was unstable, the pair married the next year. On their wedding night, Knight attempted to strangle Kellett – and things only went downhill from there.
Apparently, Knight was often violent, and once hit Kellett so hard that she fractured his skull. Eventually, even the birth of a daughter couldn’t mend their relationship, and Kellett left. However, Knight soon developed postnatal depression and abandoned their two-month-old baby in the path of an oncoming train.
Luckily, the baby was rescued, and Kellett returned home to care for Knight. Their volatile relationship continued, and Knight gave birth to another daughter. But by 1985, the pair had separated, and Knight and the children were living in the nearby town of Aberdeen.
The next year, Knight began a new relationship with a man named David Saunders, although that soon turned violent as well. Apparently, Knight was worried that Saunders might have an affair, and once slaughtered his pet dingo puppy to illustrate how she might take revenge.
In time, Knight gave birth to another daughter, and she and Saunders purchased a house. However, the arguments continued, and Saunders eventually left. Soon after, Knight became pregnant with her fourth child, and embarked on a three-year relationship with the father, John Chillingworth.
However, that too was doomed, and Knight ended up leaving Chillingworth for John Price. A father of three, Price was a well-liked man who worked in the local mines. And even though he knew all about Knight’s reputation, their relationship seemed to go well at first.
For three years, Knight and Price lived relatively peacefully, although they would sometimes get caught up in violent arguments. Then, the couple got into a fight, and Knight retaliated by getting Price canned at his workplace. Shockingly, he agreed to take her back – although he drew the line at living together again.
Despite the decision to live separately, things with the couple went from bad to worse. Eventually, Knight attacked Price with a knife, and he decided that he had finally had enough. On February 29, 2000, he took out a restraining order against Knight. Later that day, he told colleagues that he feared for his life.
When Price returned to the home that he shared with his two eldest children, he discovered that they were not there. Apparently, Knight – despite the restraining order against her – had sent them away to a friend’s house for the night. Instead, Price visited his neighbors, eventually retiring to bed about 11:00 p.m. Sadly, it would be the last time that anyone but Knight would see him alive.
When Price didn’t show up for work early the next morning, a colleague arrived to investigate. But when they spotted blood on the door, they feared the worst and contacted police. When officers arrived, they found Price’s mutilated body – and Knight unconscious at the scene of the crime.
As investigators began to piece together what had happened, a twisted and bloody story started to emerge. Apparently, Knight had arrived at Price’s home late the previous night. After having sex with Knight, Price fell asleep – at which point his lover used a butcher’s knife to stab him to death.
By looking at the blood patterns, police could see that there had been a struggle, and that Price had at one point managed to escape out of the front door. However, Knight managed to get him back inside, where he eventually bled to death. In total, he was stabbed 37 times or more.
However, it was after Price had been dead for some hours that the true horror began. Decapitating his body, Knight hung Price’s skin from a hook in the lounge and placed his head with some vegetables in a pot. Then, she made up plates of meat sliced from the body’s buttocks, accompanied by veg and gravy. Shockingly, she placed them on the table with name cards – suggesting that she intended to serve up Price’s body to his own children.
At her trial in 2001, Knight’s defense attorneys claimed that she was suffering from psychiatric issues. And even though she entered a guilty plea, she appeared unable to process what she had done – even breaking down in hysterics when the details of her crime were read out. However, the judge had little sympathy, and Knight was sentenced to life behind bars.
At the time, Knight was the first woman in Australia to receive a life sentence without the chance of parole. And although she launched an appeal in 2006, she remains locked away with little chance of release. Meanwhile, a movie is in the works about her life and crimes. “It’s one of those stories that lends itself to being told on film,” writer Dane Millerd told the Guardian in 2016. “Even if you can’t handle the subject matter, people will still feel compelled to look.”