Even as a young girl, Shelly Knotek, born Michelle Watson, showed signs of sadism and psychotic tendencies. When she was finally stopped, Knotek had already earned the infamous name of America's "most evil mom."
Unfortunately, the people she claimed to love the most suffered the most at her hands.
Although she seemed welcoming to struggling friends, these people suffered from various misfortunes after moving in with the Knoteks. Vague explanations were also given to anyone who asked about their mysterious disappearances.
In reality, Shelly Knotek was a mother, a lover, a friend, and also a torturer and a murderer. She was also described as the biggest manipulator by her own daughter. For instance, even though all three of her victims ran away at some point, she managed to track them and convince them to go back to her home, where she continued to torture them until they died.
Shelly Knotek's victims were made to jump off roofs, drink urine, and suffer the pain of having bleach poured into their open wounds. After they died, Shelly Knotek often claimed that they had run off or moved to another town. However, the truth was a lot more horrifying.
Shelly Knotek's Brutality Was Not Apparent To Everyone
Shelly Knotek was born and raised in Raymond, Washington. She was the oldest of three siblings.
She was raised by an alcoholic mother who abandoned them when young. As a result, she tortured her younger brothers.
At the age of 13, she learned that her mother had been beaten to death, making her even more insane. Shelly would fill her shoes with glass. She also stole.
When she was 15, she falsely accused her father of rape.
At 17, she eloped with her first husband, but all her spouses sustained her physical, psychological, and emotional cruelty before leaving.
Shelly met David Knotek back in 1982, and David claimed she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. However, they would not get married until 1987, when Shelly had already been divorced two times.
According to David's mother, David met Shelly on a rebound.
At the time they got married, her daughters Nikki and Sami were 12 and 9, respectively. In the year 1989, the couple had their own child, a girl known as Tori.
The Knoteks lived in Raymond, Washington. The family seemed normal in the small town, and Shelly seemed like a loving and doting mom who often clothed her daughters in the best fashions. Her husband David was a veteran working as a construction worker.
Shelly Knotek Terrorized Her Family For Years
The marriage was anything but peaceful, and Shelly often abused her husband verbally and slapped him. However, David was not able to stand up to her and instead chose to ignore her violent tendencies.
Eventually, when the girls became adolescents, they also bore the brunt of Shelly's violence. For instance, she would force them to stand naked outside in freezing temperatures.
This common punishment, which Shelly called "wallowing," was used in cases where rules such as going to the bathroom without permission were broken.
She would also lock up the girls in chicken coops and kennels and force them to cut off their pubic hair and then laugh as they reluctantly did so.
Sami was attacked so much that she wore trousers to school to hide her injuries. At one point, Shelly drove Nikki's face through a glass door and then blamed her for the outburst as the girl's face dripped with blood.
However, even with all this abuse, Shelly would often shower the kids with love, mainly to fool outsiders. She also made sure the girls dressed well and were popular and attractive at school.
The couple seemed generous and selfless, as they often took in friends who were going through tough times. For instance, Shane Watson, their 13-year-old nephew, came to live with them because his parents could not take care of him.
However, Shelly Knotek would force his teenage daughter, Nikki, to dance naked with her adolescent cousin Shane as a way to humiliate them.
Kathy Loreno's Torture And Death
In the same year, Shane moved in, a friend of Shelly Knotek, Kathy Loreno, moved in after losing her job. Initially, Shelly was warm and welcoming, but that soon changed to emotional, verbal, and physical abuse.
At some point, Kathy had to work naked, take sedatives by force, ride in the boot of the family car, and sleep in the basement next to the boiler.
Eventually, she died six years later after a severe beating from Shelly. After killing Kathy, she called her husband, daughters, and nephew and cautioned them about leaking the story.
David had to burn Kathy's body. She then started telling people Kathy had escaped with her boyfriend, Rocky. At the time Kathy died, she had shed 100 pounds.
Shane's Fate Was Sealed By His Plan To Inform The Police Of Shelly Knotek's Brutality
Shane had taken photos of Kathy during her suffering. In the pictures, the woman was naked, bruised, and crawling on the floor.
He showed the photos to Nikki and told her he was planning on taking them to the police. However, Nikki informed her mother about the pictures, and Shelly made David shoot the 19-year-old boy in the head. Shane was like a son to him at that point.
Shane's body was burned, and the ashes were scattered in the ocean.
Shelly Knotek then told people, including her girls, that Shane had gone to Alaska to work as a fisherman. David missed work a few times to go "search" for him to make the story seem genuine.
Ron Woodworth's Death After Shelly Knotek's Brutality
In 1999, Ron Woodworth joined the family after losing his home. He was in his 50s, and he had been a friend of Knoteks' for years.
However, he was still not spared torture and pain by Shelly, who started to abuse him verbally and emotionally. Eventually, she started abusing the man physically.
Other tortures included drugging him and withholding food, clothes, and the right to use the indoor bathroom from him. Shelly Knotek also tried to destroy his relationships with friends and family.
Eventually, after four years of endless suffering, he died in 2003 at the age of 57. His body was emaciated and full of bruises and burns.
Experts think Ron's murder was more deliberate as Shelly Knotek knew how things would end up with the tortures the man was going through after her experience with Kathy.
After his death, Shelly Knotek started telling people Ron had moved to Tacoma, Washington, after getting a new job.
However, Nikki and Sami, who were in their 20s and living away from the family home, suspected Ron had been murdered. Tori, who was 14 and still living with her parents, was requested by her sisters to find evidence.
She found bloody bandages.
The Sisters Turned Their Mother In, David Was Also Arrested
The sisters then called the police after realizing Ron Woodworth had been murdered. The police soon found Ron's body. They also took Tori from their custody, and she went to stay with her sister Sami.
Unfortunately, they could not find Kathy's body, but David explained what they had done with it. He also told the authorities of how he shot Shane and burned his body.
Shelly Knotek was charged with first-degree murder for Kathy and Ron's deaths. David faced first-degree murder for Shane's death. However, they took plea deals that meant getting lesser charges.
Shelly Knotek was sentenced to 22 years in prison on August 18, 2004. The prosecutor claimed that the woman showed "extreme indifference to human life."
When Shelly Knotek was put in jail, she was 50 years old. She is also due to an early release in 2022, after spending 19 years in prison. She was convicted of second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Her husband, David, who was 51 at the time, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and was released in 2016.
The Sisters Are Scared About Their Mother's Release From Prison In 2022
Lately, Shelly's daughter, Sami Knotek, who is in her 40s, spoke out about some of the horrors that took place in their household. Fortunately, the girls have been pretty successful in their lives despite the horrors they went through at the hands of their mother.
However, none of them have had any contact with their mother, and they are all terrified of what will happen when she is finally released. They fear she will try to get in touch or find more victims after she is free.
Even though the girls were victims, they often felt guilty over their inability to stop the abuses.
David is still in contact with his biological daughter Tori, as his stepdaughters have not gotten over his role in the horrors that happened in their home.
Friends say they saw him turn into a nervous wreck after his marriage to Shelly. Before then, he was a friendly and likable guy who seemed to get along with everyone. Apparently, in the decade or so he was married to Shelly, he always looked paranoid, and many just assumed he was stressed.
According to Sami Knotek, Shelly controlled Dave because he was a weak man who had "no backbone," which got his life destroyed.
In the media, Shelly Knotek has been featured in Wicked Attraction, Sins, and Secrets, and Snapped. Gregg Olsen has also written a book about her titled If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood, released in 2019.