Paul John Knowles was an American serial killer, also referred to as The Casanova killer. It is estimated that he had killed around twenty people of different age groups ranging from 11 years to even 65 years, that included both males and females.
Knowles did not follow a particular modus operandi. Sometimes he strangled his victims to kill them. Otherwise, he would stab, shoot, rape, and strangle or slit. He looked charming with his whiskey brown hair with a golden tinge, evil smirk, and adoring demeanor due to which he was termed as Casanova’s killer by the media and the people.
Two of his victims who escaped his cruelty described him to the police as the most enchanting and hottest looking man they have ever met. Even though the records stated he had killed only twenty of them, Knowles in his confession stated that he had killed around 25 to 30. However, no Corpus delicti (body of crime) or even minor evidence proved his statement.
Childhood and Criminal Behaviour
John Knowles was born on April 17, 1946, in Orlando, USA. He did not have a happy childhood. Around 9-10 years old, he stole a few stationery items from a grocery store while shopping with his parents. This was the first illegal act he had committed.
However, his father instead of correcting or rehabilitating him sent him to a foster home. His parents never contacted him after that. He was quiet and depressed throughout. During his teens, he went on to commit petty thefts which finally ended him up in jail.
He was arrested for robbery at a sheriff’s house when he was 19 years old. He was taken to Raiford Prison in Florida. During this time he met Angela Covic, divorcee and an attorney with whom he fell in love. He proposed to her and they decided to get married and were engaged while in prison.
Miss Covic went on to clear the bail procedures and got him released. However, she had met a spiritual psychic in this period, who warned her to beware of a new man entering her life. This caused her to end her relationship with Knowles and she called off the wedding.
The night Angela Civic asked Knowles to leave, a callous murderer was born. On July 23, 1974, the night Knowles was dumped by his fiance took off his bike to Crusane pub. He crashed the vehicle on a post, but nothing happened to him except for a scratch on his leg.
He got drunk and picked up a fight with the bartender. The fight got heated up and led Knowles to stab the bartender. He was dead on the spot. He spun off from there. On the way, 13-year-old Ima Jean Sanders was walking back home and was never spared by Knowles.
He claimed that he saw Angela in Ima and strangled her to death. This was the starting of the gruesome murder career of Paul John Knowles.
Murders Committed by John Paul Knowles
On November 12, 1974, Knowles broke into Beverley Mebee’s house in West Palm Beach, Florida. Beverley’s sister was in the washroom and Beverley at the beach. He stole her belongings and abducted her sister. However, after driving for half an hour he dropped her off unharmed.
While on his run away from Florida on November 17, the police caught him. This was the twentieth crime he committed according to them. Knowles confessed his crimes right from the ones he committed since Angela broke up with him.
On July 26, 1974, Knowles killed Alice Curtis, 65 years old, and stole her money and car. He stayed low until August 1st.
On August 1, 1974, he killed the Anderson sisters and stole their credit cards. While staying put, he lived in an enclosure with hardly few contacts.
This is when he met Marjorie Howie, 49 years old and a divorcee. It was not a long-term relationship and she intended for a sexual relationship alone and invited him over to her house near Atlantis beach, Florida. That night he strangled and killed her and stole her television set.
On August 23, Knowles broke into Kathie Pierce’s home and killed her and her husband, however, he left her three-year-old son unharmed.
On September 3, Knowles was found befriending William Bates (32 years old) at Swit’s Inn pub in Ohio. They took off in Bates’ car as said by the bartender. A few days later Bates’ nude corpse was found. Knowles had stolen Bates’ car now and used it for his travel across States.
Emmett and Lois Johnson, two campers met Knowles at Ely camping ground, Nevada. He befriended them. On September 18, he stole their credit cards and tried to escape, but he was caught by the two sisters which led him to shoot both. They were dead on the spot. The next week he abducted Charlynn Hickl and Seguin Texas. He killed Seguin and raped Charlynn after which she was strangled to death.
After the Texas couple incident, Knowles traveled to Alabama. He did not commit any crime for a while and met a new lady, Ann Dawson who worked as a prominent beautician. She joined as his travel companion. He did not have much money due to which she paid their bills of regular expenses.
Around September 28 Knowles stabbed her, the reason for which he never told. Her body was dumped in the Mississippi River, but could not be found to date. In the following month of October, what followed was a killing spree ranging from five victims.
Most of them were killed and the last one in November first week before Beverely was Karen, whose family he strangled and killed and later performed necrophilia with Karen’s 11-year-old daughter.
A solid reason as to why Knowles committed these crimes was never mentioned by him to the police. Chances are that he could have been mentally ill. But the psychologist who analyzed him stated that the only disturbance he was facing then was depression. It could have been the cause.
Knowles never had a particular method of committing his crimes, according to him murder was more like a game. When he approaches the victim if he or she is friendly and interesting enough he prefers spending time with him. In the case of women, hardly three to four of the total victims were raped.
He never really had time to concentrate on such activities because he considered himself impotent, as stated by his ex-girlfriend Meyer, a journalist who was in a willing relationship with him despite being aware of his criminal status.
Knowles’ death was a turning point for the Sheriff who handled his case. He had to face a crucial cross-examination by the judicial system as a culprit was shot dead by him. However, it stopped with his suspension. Paul John Knowles continues to stay in the limelight post his death as the most charming and handsome serial killer ever.