Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia)

Break-up led to slaying

Daily Telegraph (Sydney)

THE setting that greeted police was beyond imagination. A table laid for a cooked dinner, children's names on cards at their place on the table. The intended meal. Their father.

This was the final act of violence in a series of bizarre attacks that escalated through each of Katherine Knight's four marriages.

Her first three husbands fled her anger and violence. Her fourth tried, but fatally failed.

It was his body Knight prepared for her macabre dinner setting.

Using skills learned as a boner and slicer at the local abattoir, Knight stabbed John Price 37 times before skinning his body and cooking his head in a pot.

She served the cooked body parts with vegetables and gravy on three dinner plates, placing the names of Mr Price's children beside them.

Her story is making headlines around the world, and next week she will probably become the first woman in NSW to get life in jail under truth-in-sentencing legislation.

It will bring to an end the legal side of a murder that has forever affected the lives of Mr Price's children, police involved in the case and Knight's own family.

The scene that greeted officers when they arrived at Mr Price's house sparked a trauma which is ongoing. Eighteen months later one officer is still unable to return to work and others are undergoing counselling.

Sergeant Bob Wells finds it hard to escape the memory of what he saw that morning. In a neat brick home at Aberdeen the remains of John Price were everywhere.

"I've never seen anything like it in my life. It's hard to explain," said Sgt Wells, who later charged Knight with the murder.

"You would expect someone to have been in a car accident, bad industrial accident something like that and I could have accepted that.

"But to think those injuries were inflicted by another human being was incredible."

Sgt Wells, who had four months off work trying to deal with the murder, is planning a book about it.

"I spoke to all of her ex-partners, some relatives, people she knew in Aberdeen," he said. "She is a very jealous person, foul mouthed, with a very short fuse.

"She would lose her cool over little things, stupid things like finding she hadn't put enough water in the jug for a few cups of tea."

Sgt Wells said Knight, who lived most of her life in Aberdeen, always chose men who were physically smaller than herself. Locals recalled that even as a schoolgirl she liked to bully other classmates.

"She was always a big girl and she'd stand over the smaller, weaker kids," said a long-term resident.

Knight bore four children in 26 years to her three former partners.

Years ago she went through a biker stage, riding the streets of Aberdeen clad in leather. In the early 1990s she suffered a back injury at the abattoirs and received a substantial payout.

Knight was rarely without a man in her life and when between partners she would frequent the local clubs and pubs picking up men.

Sgt Wells said no one would ever know the real motivation, but it appears his desire to end their eight-year relationship could have sparked her killing frenzy.

"All her previous partners had left her. Maybe she couldn't stand the thought of it happening again."

Knight had been madly in love with Mr Price, showering him with expensive gifts which she'd later take back after a fight.

She bought him a $3500 barbecue and a $2000 stereo only to repossess them after an argument.

Several years before the murder Knight went to great extremes to have Mr Price sacked from his job at a local coal mine.

She took a video of his garage where he had a medical kit he'd taken from the mine.

She showed the video to his boss and he was sacked.

Incredibly and against the wishes of his family Mr Price took Knight back. His daughter Rosemary Biddle admits she had liked Knight and at times she had a positive effect on her dad's life.

"My kids called her Nanny Kath. She was kind to them and me and sewed beautiful clothing for the kids," Mrs Biddle said.

"But I'd seen her go off at dad and it was frightening.

"Over nothing she snapped. That's what Kath was like."

© 2001 Mirror Australian Telegraph Publications