Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Paul John Knowles: The Casanova Killer

Prison Groupies

Women Who Love Men Who Kill
Women Who Love Men Who Kill

In Women Who Love Men Who Kill, Sheila Isenberg quotes psychiatrist Park Dietz on prison groupies: "I would be amazed if they weren't among the neediest and most dependent of women.  As in the transference cure in psychoanalysis, the women are sucking up a part of the men's ego, and that gives them the illusion of being in control."  In other words, they may feel better about themselves when they get involved with men who have a record of violence, which is misperceived as a form of strength.  Then, if the man can make them feel truly loved, the connection can become addictive, and provides the illusion of being completely fulfilling.

Dr. Park Dietz
Dr. Park Dietz

Isenberg also notes that a "large percentage were raised as Catholics and were severely affected by church teachings, including sexism, subjugation of women, and repressions of sexuality."  She goes on to say that their fathers were often missing, withdrawn, or abusive, and their mothers might have been demanding.  Many of these women had also had poor relationships or marriages.

Angela Covic was among them.  Unhappy with her marriage, she had started looking elsewhere for connections with men, and she found Knowles.  He liked to draw little designs on his letters to her, which added to her impression that he was thinking about her a lot.  When they met face to face, he proposed and she accepted.  Then, through friends, she met attorney Sheldon Yavitz, a protégé of famed New York attorney Ellis Rubin, and he worked with her to get Knowles paroled.  Fawkes indicates that her mother paid the bill.  Yavitz managed to find a technical difficulty with the case, so it wasn't long before Knowles was a free man.  Before that, however, a psychic told Covic that she had a dangerous man in her life.  She apparently interpreted this in a way that eliminated Knowles from the equation and eagerly awaited a reunion with her new fiancé.  She found potential employment for him and prepared for them to start their life together.  She even sent him money to fly to San Francisco.

Ellis Rubin (l) & Sheldon Yavitz
Ellis Rubin (l) & Sheldon Yavitz

However, shortly after they got together, she felt uneasy about him.   Deciding to give it a chance, she let him hang out for four days, but she kept him at arm's length.  "I just had a funny feeling about him," she told a journalist.  Newton suggests that she reinterpreted the second psychic's reading and decided that Knowles was the "dangerous man" after all.  She was especially concerned when he showed no interest in the job she had lined up.  Her former husband began to look better to her, and immediately after she sent Knowles packing by putting him back on a plane to Florida, she worked at getting her marriage back together.  Yet Knowles had not given up on her and from time to time would call her or send notes. She continued to rebuff him.   

Newton and Everitt write that Knowles allegedly went out on the night Covic rejected him and killed three people in San Francisco.  Apparently he confessed this on tapes or in documents given to his attorney, but these murders were not verified.  He may have been saying it to enhance his dangerous reputation, or these victims simply disappeared into the system of a large city as unknowns.  At any rate, it wasn't long after arriving back in Florida before he was arrested again for stabbing a bartender during a fight, but he picked a lock in his detention cell (or kicked his way out) and quickly escaped.  That's when he claimed his first victim, albeit inadvertently.

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