When I watched a short film about this murder it showed segments of an interview with Gordon Knutsen. Never have seen such pain in a man’s face. Anita was his 18 year old daughter. She was one of three children he and his wife, Sharon, had adopted. In 2007 Anita was murdered in her student accommodation. That day the family’s world was shattered.
( please note as of May 2022 a person is now out on bail regarding this crime. Until convicted of course that only means she has been charged with the murder, Thanks to Mike for telling us: link below)
His expression while talking about their loss should be a haunting reminder to us all. It should keep us focused on justice. When a killer is caught the defence puts up a righteous argument of innocence. That is fair and their job. If convicted though they then bring out heartfelt reasons why the sentence should be a light one. Next to them, by this point, is a killer. These killers will sometimes sniffle and look broken. Other times they will defiantly protest their innocence.
We have that now here in the UK. The defence was presented for Wayne Couzens for the rape and murder of a 33 year old lady called Sarah Everard. He was given a sentence that would see him in prison until he leaves in a body bag. Yesterday it was reported he is to appeal the severity of that sentence. Somewhere will be a person willing to advocate on his behalf. When it comes down to it someone will take coin to stand and plead that Couzens should one day walk among us. Walk free in a way his victim never can.
Gordon Knutsen and his pain won’t cut through to all in our society, but it should. If we truly had a shot at being a ‘civilised’ state then Mr Knutsen should reach all with his loss.
Whoever takes a life like Couzens should never come out of prison. It is the least we owe the victims because we owe the killers nothing. The long worn out cliché is ‘ paid their debt to society’. Murders don’t owe society. They don’t owe me. They owe the victim. They owe the family and regardless they are dangerous, loathsome killers.
Anita Knutsen’s Murder
This young lady seemed to have had it all. I don’t pretend to have known her. I saw the flashing images of an attractive, life filled, young woman. Glimpses from home video’s and cell phone shots. The people who knew her spoke for her. Her death was truly a loss for anyone who would have met her later.
On 4th June 2007 her father pushed a housing manager to let him into Anita’s student accommodation. His daughter could not be reached. Cell phone calls and texts went unanswered and that was totally out of character.
The manager of the housing unit that was home to Minot State University students was worried about her job. After all Ms Knutsen was the tenant and you cannot just allow family in whenever they want. Mr Knutsen was resolute. Something was wrong and in the end the manager relented. It was this father that found his little girl stabbed and dead in her room.
I watched him describe touching her and realising she was cold and gone. I watched his eyes, the pain was palpable. It was an agony that was to spread with even more tragic results.
The cops did what they do and began to grind the machine of a murder investigation. Ms Knutsen had been stabbed multiple times, an excessive number of times. The weapon was found. It was a three inch bladed knife, a tiny thing that is not the choice of an experienced killer. It was a novelty styled nonsense of a tool. Very much like the nonsense of a person who had used it.
Minot only has a population of 40,000 and the number of people associated with the university is tiny in comparison to many centres of learning. A screen panel was found by the maintenance man. It had been sliced across. Police would at first look at the apartment window as the entry point. Later it would be found the cut across the panel had been after the crime. There was blood on the mesh, it was done to throw off the police.
So Ms Knutsen had been killed by someone who had not had to force their way in. That narrowed it down. Yet it didn’t help. Even the isolation of a DNA profile helped little. Suspects and associates gave samples without a match being found.
There was a room mate that Ms Knutsen did not get on with. The two had apparently got into a physical confrontation in the past. There was a student who had gone on a prom date with the victim. He was right in the town when she died. Several people close to the victim were not comfortable with his behaviour. His DNA was checked and there was nothing there to progress the enquiry.
The manager was dating the maintenance man. He killed himself a year after Ms Knutsen died. So was it him? Did he die wracked with the guilt of his crime? There was nothing to link him to the murder according to detectives.
There was no apparent motive for the murder either. Ms Knutsen had been passionately stabbed, there is no doubt there was hate and anger in the inadequate moron who killed her. The police said that there was no sign of sexual assault and there was no indication of it being a robbery homicide.
Years Of Pain
The family fought on. The cops were criticised and this went back and forth. I recently looked on the Facebook page for Ms Knutsen and the view of the police seems to have settled. On one comment someone was told not to ‘hate on the police’ as the page was not a forum for that.
In 2013 Daniel Knutsen became another victim. He is said to have taken the ordeal of losing his sister particularly hard. He shot himself, he was only 22 years old when he died.
DNA is a wonderful tool for the medical profession and for law enforcement. It is not a golden solution though. Here in the UK I am constantly coming across murders where an offender profile has been identified. Still, even with wide searches, sometimes in other countries, there is no match. If the offender stays out of the system then you may as well have no DNA. That must just pile frustration onto the raw feeling of loss for the family.
In the early part of this century familial DNA was developed as a way of tracing an offender. If your close relative is arrested they might have to provide a sample that could link you to a crime. The problem is that it may not happen, whole families never come to the attention of the police. In addition, people come from all over the world to study or work. You have to know what database to look at to stand a chance of tracing the murderer you are after.
Anita Knutsen The Teacher
Ms Knutsen was studying to be a teacher. She held down three jobs on top of the studying she did. At 18 years of age that is an achievement in itself. That shows character, it showed promise. Instead of her living that life the other night I watched her father. He was broken and her mother could barely hold it together.
Somewhere there will be kids Ms Knutsen never got to help. She will not pass on her undoubted grit determination to work and achieve. Instead out there is the opposite of her. A low down creature that will influence people the other way. A coward, a killer.
I watched Gordon Knutsen the other night. Anyone swayed by the tears of a convicted killer and the nonsense of a lawyer that argues for a weak sentence should watch him too. It is below.
Tim Hodge, Always Believing: If you take a life you owe a life.