Paul John Knowles
A Florida native, born in 1946, Knowles logged his
first arrest at age 19, spending roughly six months of each year
thereafter in jail, on various convictions for burglary and auto theft.
He was serving time in Raiford when he began corresponding with
California divorcee Angela Covic, and she visited the prison long enough
to accept his proposal of marriage, shelling out money for lawyers to
win his release.
Parole came through in May 1974, and Knowles flew
directly to San Francisco for the nuptials, but Covic had changed her
mind, warned off by a psychic who foresaw the entry of a new, dangerous
man in her life. The night she dumped him, Knowles allegedly went out
and killed three people on the streets of San Francisco, but his claim
has not been verified.
Back home in Jacksonville, Knowles was jailed after a
bar fight, but he picked a lock and escaped on July 26, 1974. That
night, he invaded the home of 65-year-old Alice Curtis, leaving her
bound and gagged as he ransacked her house for money, finally taking off
in her car. She choked to death on the gag, but Knowles hung around town
for a few days, using her vehicle, until police connected him with the
crime and his picture began turning up on TV.
Preparing to drop the hot
car on a quiet residential street, he spied 11-year-old Lillian Anderson
and her seven-year-old sister Mylette, recognizing them as friends of
his mother. Convinced the girls had seen him and would notify police, he
kidnapped both of them and dumped their strangled bodies in a swamp
outside of town.
The next day, in Atlantic Beach, Florida, Knowles
broke into the home of Marjorie Howe, strangling her with a nylon
stocking and stealing her television set. His next victim was a teenage
"Jane Doe" hitchhiker, raped and strangled for sport as he
drifted aimlessly, working his way north. On August 23, he invaded the
home of Kathie Pierce, at Musella, strangling her with a telephone cord
while her three-year-old son looked on, leaving the child unharmed.
On September 3, Knowles met businessman William Bates
at a tavern in Lima, Ohio, sharing a few drinks before he strangled
Bates and dumped his body in some nearby woods, where it would be
discovered in October. Stealing money, credit cards, and Bates's car,
Knowles made his way to Sacramento, back through Utah, pausing at Ely,
Nevada, long enough to murder campers Emmett and Lois Johnson on
Three days later, passing through Sequin, Texas, he
spotted a female motorist stranded at roadside and stopped "to help,"
raping her before he strangled her to death and dragged her body through
a tangled barbed wire fence. On September 23, he met beautician Ann
Dawson in Birmingham and instantly caught her fancy; they traveled
together, at her expense, until Knowles tired of the game and killed her
September 29. Her body has never been found.
Knowles drifted on through Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa
and Minnesota, apparently keeping his nose clean, leaving no bodies
behind. By October 19, he needed a "fix," and he found it in
Woodford, Virginia, barging into the home of 53-year-old Doris Hovey,
shooting her dead with her own husband's rifle, then wiping his prints
from the gun and placing it beside her body. Afterward, police would
find no signs of sex or robbery to offer them a motive in the case.
Still driving Bates's stolen car, Knowles picked up
two hitchers in Key West, planning to kill them both, but his scheme
went awry when a policeman stopped him for traffic violations. The
careless officer let Knowles go with a warning, but the experience had
shaken him. Dropping his passengers off in Miami, Knowles phoned his
lawyer for advice. Rejecting a suggestion of surrender, he met the
attorney long enough to hand over a taped confession, then slipped out
of town before police were informed of his presence.
On November 6, in Macon, Georgia, Knowles befriended
Carswell Carr and was invited home to spend the night. Over drinks, he
stabbed Carr to death and then strangled Carr's 15-year-old daughter,
failing in his attempt to have sex with her corpse. In the wake of his
flight from Macon, Knowles was also suspected in the November 2 murder
of hitchhiker Edward Hilliard, found in some nearby woods, and his
companion Debbie Griffin (still, among the missing).
Bar-hopping in Atlanta on November 8, Knowles met
British journalist Sandy Fawkes, impressing her with his "gaunt
good looks." They spent the night together, Knowles unable to
perform in bed, and he failed repeatedly at sex over the next two days,
suggesting possible impotence with a willing companion.
on November 10, but Knowles picked up one of Sandy's friends, Susan
MacKenzie, the next day, demanding sex at gunpoint. She escaped and
notified police, but when patrolmen tried to stop him, Knowles
brandished a sawed-off shotgun and made his escape.
In West Palm Beach, he invaded the home of invalid
Beverly Mabee, abducting her sister and stealing their car, dropping his
hostage off in Fort Pierce, Florida, the following night. A police
officer recognized the stolen car next morning and pulled Knowles over,
but Knowles was faster on the draw.
Taking the officer hostage, he drove
away in the patrol car, using its siren to stop motorist James Meyer,
switching cars a second time. Burdened with two prisoners now, Knowles
handcuffed both men to a tree in Pulaski County, Georgia, and shot each
one in the head at close range. A short time later, Knowles tried to
crash through a police roadblock, losing control of his car and smashing
into a tree.
A chaotic foot chase ensued, with Knowles pursued by dogs
and helicopters, finally cornered by an armed civilian on November 17.
In custody, he claimed 35 murders, but only 18 could be verified. On
November 18, while being transferred to maximum security, Knowles made a
grab for the sheriff's revolver, and FBI agent Ron Angel shot him dead
in his tracks.
Paul John Knowles (April 17, 1946 – November
18, 1974) (also known as "Lester Daryl Gates", "Daryl Golden" and "The
Casanova Killer") was an American spree killer tied to the deaths of 18
people in 1974, though he claimed to have taken 35 lives.
Born in Florida in 1946, he was first
convicted at the age of nineteen, and in the years following he spent
more time in prison. In 1974, he was granted parole and sought to marry
Mrs. Angela Covic, with whom he had corresponded from prison. Allegedly
because of something a psychic told her, she ended the relationship.
After this rejection, Knowles went on a murderous
spree across northern Maine. He was eventually caught in Georgia and
sent back to Florida.
While riding in the back of a car going to find the
location of his murder weapon he used to kill the highway patrolmen and
the businessman he used a hidden paperclip to free his handcuffs. There
was no screen in the car. Knowles grabbed the sheriff's handgun and
fired a round through his holster. Agent Ronnie Angel then fired three
shots into Knowles' chest in self-defense. To this day agent Angel will
not speak to anyone about the incident.
was a 65-year-old resident of Jacksonville, Florida. Knowles gagged her
on July 26, 1974, while stealing her belongings. She choked to death on
Lillian and Mylette
Anderson, aged eleven
and seven respectively, were strangled early August 1974 and
subsequently dumped in a nearby swamp.
lived in Atlantic Beach, Florida. She was strangled with a nylon
stocking. The motive, apparently, was that Knowles stole her television.
remains unnamed. She was a hitchhiker, whom Knowles raped and strangled.
was strangled with the cord of her telephone on August 23, 1974. Her
three-year-old son, who was also present, remained unharmed.
met his fate on September 3, after having shared some drinks with
Knowles in Lima, Ohio. His body was not discovered until October. His
car, money and credit cards were all taken by Knowles.
Emmett and Lois
Johnson were out
camping in Ely, Nevada, where Knowles murdered both on September 18,
was a woman whose motorcycle broke down in Sequin, Texas. Knowles raped
her before strangling her and dragging her body through some barbed
wire. This was on the 21st of September.
from Birmingham, Alabama, met Knowles on September 23. They traveled
together for a while, until Knowles killed her on the September 29. Her
body was never found.
was fifty-three years old and lived in Woodford, Virginia. She was shot
dead by Knowles with her husband's rifle on the October 19, 1974.
Carswell Carr and
his daughter met
Knowles on November 6 in Macon, Georgia, and invited him over to his
house. Subsequently, Knowles stabbed Carr dead and strangled his
fifteen-year-old daughter. He attempted to have sexual intercourse with
her body, but failed.
Edward Hilliard and
Debbie Griffin were
hitchhiking near Macon, Georgia, on November 2. Hilliard's body was
found in nearby woods, but Griffin's remains were never discovered.
Knowles was not proven to have murdered them, but he was under very
Eugene Campbell Trooper
Campbell was abducted while on patrol and shot by Knowles in Pulaski
was a business man that was also taken hostage, along with Trooper
Campbell. He met his fate in the same grisly manner in Pulaski County.
Paul John Knowles then handcuffed them to a tree and shot them with the
J.H.H. Gaute and Robin
Odell, The New Murderer's Who's Who, 1996, Harrap Books, London
Sandy Fawkes, Killing Time, 1977, London
Georgina Lloyd, One
was not enough, 1976, London
Paul John Knowles
Born and raised in Florida, Paul John Knowles spent
about half of his brief life in prison for burglary and other relatively
minor crimes. When released from yet another stint in 1974 he traveled
to San Francisco to marry a woman he had corresponded with but his
potential bride called off the wedding when it became apparent that
Knowles was a little odd to be the marrying type.
Highly agitated at this rejection, Knowles traveled
to Jacksonville, Florida, and was soon arrested after a bar scuffle and
jailed. He avoided a quick trip back to prison by escaping and then
proceeded to launch a frightening killing spree.
ON July 26, 1974, just hours after his jail escape,
Knowles robbed the home of elderly Alive Curtis, killing her when a gag
he had jammed into her mouth suffocated her. Police were soon looking
for Knowles in connection with the crime and before leaving town a few
days later he kidnapped and murdered Lillian Anderson, 11, and her
sister Mylette, 7, because he claimed that the girls knew him and
therefore might be able to turn him in.
Knowles dumped their bodies in a rural area and
headed to Atlantic Beach, Florida, where he strangled Marjorie Howe in
her home. Two days after thathe picked up a hitchhiker, who has never
been identified, raping and strangling the woman.
Knowles, who had now committed five murders in a
little more than a week, laid low until August 23 when he broke into a
Mosella, Florida, home and strangled Katherine Pierce to death while her
two-year-old son watched.
Knowles suprisingly allowed the little boy to live.
Leaving Florida, the rampaging slayer struck next in Lima, Ohio, where
he killed a man he had met in a bar and dumped the body into some woods.
Drifting out west again, Knowles shot an old couple dead at a campground
in Ely, Nevada, on September 18, and killed a stranded female motorist
in Seguin, Texas, three days later.
Ending up in Brimingham, Alabama, Knowles met Ann
Dawson and tagged along with her for days before slaying her on
September 29. Moving on to Woodford, Virginia, he shot Doris Hovey, 53,
dead and was primed to dispatch of a pair of hitchhikers in Florida when
he was pulled over by a patrol officer.
Inexplicably, the officer allowed Knowled to drive
off with the pair even though the vehicle was stolen. Sufficiently
rattled, Knowles let the two go and called his lawyer and arranged a
meeting during which the killer taped a confession of his crimes to
date. He refused his attorney's pleas to turn himself in and soon
resumed his murer spree.
Next came a man named Carswell Carr, who Knowles had
met in a Macon, Georgia, bar. Invited to Carr's home he soon stabbed the
unsuspecting man to death and then turned on his 15-year-old daughter,
strangling and raping the girl.
In Atlanta on November 8 Knowles met British
journalist Sandy Fawkes and spent the next few days with her before
moving on, leaving the writer unharmed. Fawkes would eventually write a
book about the serial killer and her time with him.
Meanwhile, luck was finally running out on Knowles.
He was soon forced into two seperate confrontations with law enforcement
officers, the first ending with no bloodshed but the second with both
the officer and another hostage being shot in the head outside of
By now the subject of a massive manhunt, Knowles was
finally put into custody after crashing his stolen car while trying to
avoid a roadblock shortly after the double murder in Pulaski. Knowles
belatedly laid claim to over thirty murders almost immediately after
being arrested, but the true total will never be known for sure.
The next day, November 18, he was shot and killed by
an FBI agent after picking his handcuffs and going for an officers gun
while being transferred to a maximum security facility.
Serial Killers A-Z