- Katherine Knight murdered partner John Price in the NSW Hunter Valley in 2000
- She expertly skinned his body and severed his head which she cooked in a pot
- Knight served up Price’s cooked body parts at places set for his three children
- She pleaded guilty to murdering Price and will serve the rest of her life in jail
- Forensic toxicologist Dr William J. Allender was written about Knight’s case
Katherine Knight has gone down in the annals of Australian criminal history as the nation’s worst female killer and the first and only woman to be locked up for life in prison.
Her infamy comes from decapitating her partner after stabbing him to death and skinning his corpse, then cooking his head in a pot with vegetables.
Having hung her partner’ skin on a meat hook, Knight served up parts of his body with baked potatoes and gravy on plates set at the dinner table for each of his three children.
It has been speculated Knight, a onetime boner at a slaughterhouse, tried but failed to eat a cooked section of her boyfriend’s left buttock that was later found on the back lawn.
Knight’s appalling crimes have been revisited in a new book by forensic medical scientist Dr William J. Allender called The Expert Witness: A Second Dose.
The book covers 30 cases involving drugs and poisons that Dr Allender has encountered or helped solve in his long career as a toxicologist.
Daily Mail Australia has obtained an exclusive extract of The Expert Witness in which Dr Allender recounts his involvement in Knight’s prosecution.
Dr Allender was called upon to conduct tests on Knight’s blood after she was arrested in February 2000 in a stupefied estate, having murdered her partner John Price.
He found Knight had taken a large quantity of the anti-depressant Fluvoxamine and a smaller amount of the anti-histamine Promethazine. Both drugs can cause dizziness and drowsiness.
Dr Allender declared neither drug was in the toxic range and a judge later relied on his evidence to rule Knight had not attempted to commit suicide.
Knight was deemed sane and pleaded guilty to Price’s murder. In November 2001 Justice Barry O’Keefe of the NSW Supreme Court sentenced her to life.
‘The prisoner, Katherine Mary Knight, does not qualify for mercy,’ Justice O’Keefe said. ‘She engaged in cruel, vicious behaviour to Mr Price.
‘She showed him no mercy. She has not expressed any contrition or remorse. If released, she poses a serious threat to the security of society.
‘I’m satisfied beyond any doubt that such a murder was premeditated. I’m further satisfied in the same way that not only did she plan the murder, but she also enjoyed the horrific acts which followed in its wake as part of a ritual of death and defilement.’
Knight and Price had lived at Aberdeen, a small township on a hillside in the New South Wales Hunter Valley between Muswellbrook and Scone, about 270km north of Sydney.
Like many in the town, including some of her lovers, Knight had worked in the local abattoir.
One of those abattoir workers was David Kellett who Knight married when she was just 18 and tried to strangle after he could not satisfy her insatiable lusts on their wedding night.
Two years later the couple had a daughter but Kellett was unable to handle his wife’s mood swings and ran off to Queensland with another Aberdeen woman.
A devastated Knight left her new-born daughter in the middle of a railway track to be killed but a pensioner who lived nearby rescued the baby when he heard her cries.
Knight was subsequently admitted to St Elmo’s Hospital at Tamworth, diagnosed with post-natal depression and discharged.
Next, she slashed the face of a woman who had suggested her daughter was ill, then grabbed a boy she threatened to knife.
After a stint in a psychiatric hospital a reunion with Kellett followed and the couple moved to Woodridge in Queensland where they had another daughter.
The relationship lasted four more years before Kellett took off for Alice Springs and Knight moved in with her parents at Aberdeen, then a rented house at Muswellbrook.
Another relationship with local man David Saunders beckoned and he moved in with Knight and her two daughters.
Knight’s jealous rages soon emerged and she slit the throat of Saunders’ dingo pup before bashing him unconscious with a frying pan.
The couple had a daughter and bought a house which Knight decorated with the skins and skulls of livestock, steer horns, deer antlers and stuffed animals.
After Knight hit Saunders over the head with an iron and stabbed him with scissors she took out an apprehended violence order and he left for good, perhaps saving his life.
Knight moved on with another former abattoir worker before her final, fatal partnership with the much-loved John Price, known around town as ‘Pricey’.
Price would be the last victim of a vengeful and violent disposition that first became evident in Knight’s childhood.