A HERO cop has revealed how he still suffers nightmares after finding the head of a murder victim stewing in pot when he raided the lair of a cannibal.
Veteran detective Robert Wells told The Sun Online how he busted notorious murderer Katherine Knight who butchered her lover and attempted to feed him to his children.
“This was the one that tipped me over the edge. I think it tipped a lot of the boys over the edge [that day],” Wells said.
The copper described the horror scene as “never going to leave” his mind and added he still has “bad dreams and nightmares”.
Knight stabbed her partner John Price with a butcher’s knife at least 37 times before chopping him up, cooking him, and serving him to his own kids in Muswellbrook, Australia.
The grisly killing shocked a nation and saw Canberra convict its first ever female murderer to life behind bars without parole.
Some 22 years on, lead investigator Detective Robert Wells is still haunted by what he saw.
Cops discovered a horror movie-esque scene – the with Price’s head still stewing a “big boiler pot”.
Knight – who remains in jail to this day – was a slaughterhouse worker and put her skills to horrific use in February 2000.
She stabbed him in the chest before skinning him, decapitated him, and hanging his flesh from a meat hook.
The killer then cooked parts of his body with the intention of feeding him to his children – and is alleged to eaten part of his body before tossing the meal into the garden.
Knight initially claimed she had no memory of the grisly crime.
NSW cop Wells told The Sun Online how he remembers getting a call from an “overwhelmed” junior inspector at the scene.
Cops were tipped off by John’s co-workers who feared for his safety after he failed to turn up for work.
The junior inspector who first arrived at the Muswellbrook home scoured the crime scene and immediately called his superior saying that “it was too big a job for him” but didn’t give any further details.
Detective Wells immediately grew suspicious.
He told The Sun Online: “A couple of guys in uniform went there on their way from Muswellbrook police station.
We then had a look at the lid and took it off the big boiler pot where [John’s] head was
Detective Robert Wells
“They got a call up there and found the backdoor was actually open so they went in and saw John Price’s mutilated body, his decapitated and skinned body, and then went down the hallway to the main bedroom where they found [Knight] in a conscious state in the bed.”
After the gruesome killing, Knight had left home, withdrew money from John’s bank and returned to the crime scene where she took an overdose that failed to kill her.
She would later tell police she had no idea what happened and claimed she was the victim of domestic abuse – something Detective Wells ruled out after speaking to her ex partners.
Knight’s ex David Saunders said he was frequently beaten up in surprise attacks.
He remembers coming home one night five minutes late from the pub to see Knight standing at the doorway of their home with a pup in her hand. She sliced its head off and told Saunders that if he “kept going, you’ll get the same”.
Detective Wells said: “Upon interviewing them, they more or less painted a picture which was consistent with her being there as far as abuse goes, the dominating factor in a relationship.”
Cops on duty that day were eventually able to wake Knight and walked her back down the hallway that was covered in blood stains.
Detective Wells told us: “There was a lot of blood in the hallway, which started high and then ended up low because obviously she stabbed him and she then chased him down the hallway, stabbing him.
“He actually gets to the front door and gets the front door just open. But by that stage, he’s that wounded from being stabbed that he’s just collapses and is dying.”
The retired policeman was the first senior detective to arrive at the scene and recalled seeing plates lined up on the dining room table with food on them and John’s kids’ names written on sticky tape.
“I saw Price’s body on the floor with the head missing,” he told us.
“I saw his complete pelt, what you’d call skin, complete in one piece with a butcher’s hook through the top of his scalp and through the hair and hanging, hooked over the architraves of a doorway from the dining area into the lounge room.
“He was hanging down.
“Then we had just a quick observation of the hall and the blood and then went over to the stove in the kitchen bench where there was some meals made up with some meat and vegetables.
“We then had a look at the lid and took it off the big boiler pot where [John’s] head was.”
Detective Wells said Knight had planned on serving her lover’s body to his kids and is understood to have eaten some herself.
The heinous act came as little surprise to those that knew Knight.
Journalist Peter Lalor wrote in his book Blood Stain that Knight “loved” gutting animals at the slaughterhouse and hung her first set of butcher’s knives over her bed.
In 1974, she married her first husband David Kellett, who she beat frequently. Kellett’s mother warned him on the day of the marriage that Knight had “a screw loose somewhere”.
It is claimed Knight began to strangle her new husband when he refused to consummate their marriage for the fourth time on the wedding night.
Kellett would later flee the family home fearing for his life but not before she placed their two-month-old baby on the local train tracks as part of a ploy to get her husband back.
She then entered into a relationship with Saunders who also fled she tried to kill him with a pair of scissors.
Knight would go on to meet John and move in together in 1995.
The relationship was happy at first but soon spiralled into violence as Knight beat and stabbed John, according to the documentary Beyond the Darklands.
A deranged Knight was bent on making John’s life a misery and tried to control his every actions.
She had John framed for stealing things from his work and got him fired then tried to stab him in the chest weeks before his murder.
To torment John further, she would falsely tell his kids they didn’t belong to him.
On February 29, Knight would make her final but fatal attempt at John’s life.
According to evidence, the bloodthirsty abattoir worker hid a butcher knife next to her bed and waited for John to lay down before launching a knife into his chest and abdomen.
She then dragged his body downstairs, skinned him and hung his body from a meat hook in the living room.
John was decapitated and his body was cut into small pieces to be cooked and served alongside a plate of potato, pumpkin, beets, zucchini, cabbage, squash, and gravy, which Knight ate.
Detective Wells said the “savagery” of Knight’s heinous crime has left him with PTSD.
He said: “At that stage I’d had over 20 years with the police force and I’d been through a few things.
“If you’re an operational police officer and you’re going to crime scenes, as part of your daily duties, you sort of get bombarded after a while.
“But this was sort of the thing that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
In October 2001, Knight pleaded guilty and was escorted from prison with her papers marked “never to be released”.
The mum-of-four maintains her innocence and will spend the rest of her life at the brutal Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre in Sydney.
Despite her guilty plea, Detective Wells said Knight never showed any remorse.
“I interviewed her for a couple of hours, but she was in total denial of anything that had happened anyway,” he said.
“I think she was someone who was in denial but she was a very, very strong person within herself. She’s a hard, hard woman. She was smart enough to know what was going.”
The Aussie cop said he never doubted Knight viciously killed her partner.
He said: “You know when you catch someone’s eye, you know they’re lying to you. You just catch that look – you don’t get it all the time, but you just catch it momentarily and you say, she knows what’s going on.”
The presiding judge at Knight’s case echoed Well’s sentiments.
“His observations were that she showed no compassion. She showed no remorse. He said it was a cold, sadistic, calculated murder.”