DEADLY DAMES - Katherine Mary Knight - Noise Break
You are here
Home > Do You Know > Deadly Dames > DEADLY DAMES – Katherine Mary Knight

DEADLY DAMES – Katherine Mary Knight


Katherine Mary Knight was born and brought up in an unconventional and a dysfunctional family environment. Her mother, Barbara Roughan had an adulterous relationship with Ken Knight, a friend and co-worker of her husband and was forced to move away from the peaceful town of Aberdeen, New South Wales in Australia. Katherine, born on the 24th October 1955, was the younger of the twins born to Barbara and her partner Ken. Ken was an alcoholic who openly used violence to rape Barbara  up to ten times a day. Later, Barbara, in turn, often told her daughters the intimate details of her sex life and how much she hated sex and men. However, when Knight complained to her mother that one of her partners wanted her to take part in a sex act she did not want to perform, Barbara told her to tolerate it without complaining.

While in Musewellbrook High School, Knight became a loner. Though she was a model student and often earned awards for her good behaviour, she was prone to unbridled     rages and known to her classmates as a bully. She was guilty of assaulting one boy with a weapon and obtained injuries from a member of the staff, who acted in self defense against her. She left her school at 15, without having any idea to read or write, but got her dream job of cutting up offal at the local slaughterhouse at 16. For her dedication to work she was soon promoted to boning and was also given her own personal set of butcher’s knives.

Knight married her hard drinking co-worker David Stanford Kellett in 1974. However, she tried to strangle him on the wedding night, as he fell asleep after having only three intercourses.



Katherine Knight and David Kellett on their wedding day in 1974.
Katherine Knight and David Kellett on their wedding day in 1974.

The marriage was plagued by violence and on one occasion, David was hit over the head with a frying pan for returning home late after making the final of a darts competition. Kellett desperately sprinted to the house of a neighbour and was found to have a fractured skull. Police wanted to charge her, but finally Katherine persuaded her terrified husband to drop the charges. Shortly after the birth of their first child, Melissa Ann in May, 1976, David Kellett fled to Queensland with another woman, apparently unable to cope with Knight’s violent behaviour any more. Days later, Katherine was seen swinging her baby’s perambulator from side to side down a busy street and was immediately admitted to St Elmo’s Hospital, where she was diagnosed with postnatal depression. But, immediately after her release from the Hospital, Knight calmly placed the two-month-old Melissa on a railway line, shortly before the train was due. Then she stole an axe, went into the town and threatened to kill several people. Fortunately, Melissa Ann was rescued by a passerby and Knight was again admitted to St. Elmo’s Hospital. However, she signed herself out the following day and after a few days, without any provocation, slashed the face of a woman with one of her knives and demanded she drive her to Queensland to find Kellett. The terrified woman escaped after they stopped at a service station, but by the time police arrived, Knight had taken a young boy hostage and was threatening him with the knife. At the end of the show, she was forcibly disarmed by the police and was admitted to the Morisset Psychiatric Hospital. On being informed by the Police about the incident, David Kellett left his girlfriend and moved to Aberdeen with his mother to support Knight. In August 1976, she was released and moved to Woodridge with Kellett. There she got a job at the ‘Dinmore Meatworks’ and had a second daughter with David four years later. Finally, Knight left Kellett in 1984 and moved in, first with her parents in Aberdeen, then to a rented house in nearby Muswellbrook.

In 1986 Katherine moved in with 38 year old miner, David Saunders. But, she was always suspicious about Saunders’ character and often wondered what he did when she was not around. Saunders was repeatedly thrown out of and invited back into her home, which persuaded him to move back to his apartment in Scone. One day Katherine slashed the throat of his puppy brutally in front of him as a warning to show what would happen if he ever try to cheat on her. Surprisingly, even after that, Saunders chose to stay with Knight and had a daughter with her in the June of 1988. They bought a house together, which Katherine decorated morbidly with animal skins, horns, machetes, rakes and pitchforks. Despite her erratic temperament, Saunders didn’t leave her until the day when, during an argument, she stabbed himin the stomach with a pair of scissors.


In 1990, Knight was impregnated by her 43-year-old former co-worker, John Chillingworth, and the following year she gave birth to a boy. Their relationship lasted three years before she left him for another man, John Charles Thomas Price. His own marriage had ended in 1988. While his two-year-old daughter had remained with his former wife, the two older children lived with him. Despite being aware of Katherine Knight’s violent reputation, John Price allowed her to move into his home in 1995. It seemed, Knight had finally found her perfect man and her behaviour calmed to such a point that even Price’s daughter’s loved her. However, her vehement violence resurfaced in 1998 when Price refused to marry her. In retaliation, Katherine secretly videotaped the items that John had stolen from his work and sent them to his boss. Price was subsequently fired from his job of 17 years and she was immediately kicked out of his home.

John Charles Thomas Price
John Charles Thomas Price

In February 2000, a series of assaults on Price culminated with Knight stabbing Price in the chest. Finally fed up, he kicked her out of his house, and took out a restraining order to keep her well away from him and his children. That afternoon, Price told his co-workers that if he did not come to work the next day, it would be because Knight had killed him. They pleaded with him not to go home, but he told them that he believed she would come back to kill his children if he did not.

Price arrived home to find that Knight, although not there herself, had sent the children away for a sleepover at a friend’s house. He spent the evening with his neighbours, as if to say goodbye, and went to bed at 11pm. While he was sleeping, Katherine crept into his house, woke up Price and demanded sex, after which he fell asleep. Next day, his absence was noted by his boss who sent a worker to his home. Blood was found on the door and the police was consulted. The door was broken down and his body was found in bed next to Knight, comatose from overdosing on pills.

The bloody scene inside the house where Katherine Knight skinned her boyfriend
The bloody scene inside the house where Katherine Knight skinned her boyfriend

 According to police, Knight had stabbed Price with a butcher’s knife while he was asleep. Terrified, Price had tried to escape with Katherine maniacally chasing him through the house. He managed to open the door, but was dragged back inside and stabbed 37 times. Several hours after his death, Knight skinned him and hung the skin on a meat hook on the architrave of a door. She then decapitated him and cooked parts of his body, serving the meat with baked potato, pumpkin, zucchini, cabbage, yellow squash and gravy. The two meals were placed at the dinner table beside notes containing the names of his two children. His head was found floating in a still-warm pot with cabbage and zucchini.


The suburban house in Aberdeen where Knight’s horrific murder of Price took place.
The suburban house in Aberdeen where Knight’s horrific murder of Price took place.

Katherine Knight was promptly arrested and detained. Her legal team had planned to defend her by claiming amnesia and dissociation, a claim supported by most psychiatrists, although they did consider her sane.

On the 8th November 2001, Katherine Mary Knight was sentenced to life imprisonment. Justice O’Keefe stated that Knight lacked remorse and ordered that her papers be marked ‘never to be released’, the first time that this had been imposed on a woman in Australian history.

Cover of a book on Katherine Knight authored by Sandra Lee
Cover of a book on Katherine Knight authored by Sandra Lee

Katherine Knight went down in history as Australia’s most notorious female psychopath. She is the first woman in Australian history to be sentenced to life without parole.


Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.

Leave a Reply