• Crime

    The Malevolent Mother Shelly Knotek: When Love Takes A Sinister Turn


    By Marshall - Jul 14, 2023 | Updated On: 14 July, 2023 | 7 min read

    By Marshall , 7 min read - Jul 14, 2023

    Updated On: 14 July, 2023

    The Evil Mother Shelly Knotek. Image Source: Instagram.

  • The term mother is synonymous with love and care. So when the deeds of Michelle ‘Shelly’ Knotek came to light, people were disgusted by how a mom could be so cruel. Aptly named America’s Most Evil Mother Shelly Knotek’s harrowing tale is not for the faint-hearted.

    Continue with us as we reveal everything about her, including why she was nicknamed as such and how she managed to accomplish these deeds.

    Disturbing Early Life

    Michelle, born on April 15, 1964, has always maintained a solid connection to her hometown of Raymond, Washington. Despite spending 18 years in prison at a later stage in life, she never strayed more than two hours north of where she was initially born.

  • As the oldest of three siblings, Knotek’s early years were spent living with their mentally ill and alcoholic mother, Sharon Todd Watson. In addition to her struggles with alcoholism, it is believed by some family members that Sharon may have also been involved in dangerous activities such as prostitution.

    Consequently, the household lacked stability, and when Shelly was only six years old, her mother mysteriously vanished, leaving Shelly with her younger brothers. However, instead of stepping up for them, Shelley oppressed them.

    Mother Shelly Knotek

    The Heartless Mother Shelly Knotek. Image Source: Instagram.

    Shelly persisted in tormenting her brothers, consistently finding excuses to blame them for missing assignments or inciting frequent disagreements. Adding to the situation’s complexity was her brother, Paul Watson, who had difficulty managing impulsive behavior and lacked social skills. On the other hand, her other brother, Chuck Watson, remained silent and allowed Shelly to speak on his behalf during conversations.

    However, it is essential to note that these conflicts went beyond typical childhood disputes. Laura Stallings (Shelly’s stepmother) later revealed a disturbing incident in that Shelly intentionally placed shards of glass at the bottom of her siblings’ boots and shoes.

  • Playing The Victim Card

    In March of 1969, a significant event showcased Shelly’s true capabilities. One day when she failed to return home from school, Stallings and Les Watson (Shelly’s dad) became progressively more concerned and promptly contacted the school for answers. To their surprise, they learned that Shelly had been sent to a juvenile detention center. However, little did they anticipate that the harsh truth would be even worse than what they feared.

    Shelly Knotek found herself in detention when she accused her father of rape. There were suspicions about the credibility of her claims since Stallings came across a worn-out copy of True Confessions in Shelly’s room with a clear headline stating, “I WAS RAPED AT 15 BY MY DAD!”

    These doubts were later confirmed by an examination conducted by a doctor, which revealed that Shelly had fabricated the allegation. To address this issue, Shelly participated in multiple therapy sessions with individual and family counseling. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, Shelly denied any wrongdoing other than proclaiming her innocence.

    Shelly later moved in with Laura Stallings’ parents, but unfortunately, her destructive behavior persisted and aimed to disrupt the lives of those around her. She continued to have tantrums and deceitfully offered to babysit the neighbors’ children, only to confine them in their rooms using heavy furniture. Shockingly, she even made false allegations of abuse against her grandfather.

  • This pattern of manipulation and abuse continued into adulthood as Shelly went through two marriages and gave birth to two daughters named Nikki and Sami until she met David Knotek in the spring of 1982 – a construction worker and Navy veteran. They married five years later, and the following year, Shelly welcomed her first victim into their home.

    ALSO READ: One of The Most Heinous Serial Killers, Richard Evonitz

    The First Victim of The Heartless Mother Shelly Knotek

    In 1988, Shelly Knotek’s nephew Shane Watson, who was only 13 years old, had to move into her home. This unfortunate circumstance arose because Shane’s father was a member of a biker gang and got incarcerated, while his mother faced financial difficulties that made it impossible for her to take care of him.

    Shelly wasted no time subjecting poor Shane to relentless physical and psychological torture. She developed an appalling form of punishment known as “wallowing,” which involved making the victims endure harsh conditions for minor transgressions like using the bathroom without permission.

  • During these torturous sessions, she forced Shane and her daughters, Nikki and Sami, to undress entirely while being exposed to freezing temperatures outside as she drenched them with water. Furthermore, Shelly derived twisted pleasure from degrading her older daughters by demanding handfuls of their pubic hair during these chilling rituals.

    In addition, confinement within dog kennels formed part of this cruel disciplinary regime regularly imposed upon them. It is worth noting that there was also one instance where Shelly forcefully shoved Nikki’s head through a glass door.

    Mother Shelly Knotek

    Mother Shelly Knotek. Image Source: Instagram.

    Initially, Shelly spared her infant daughter Tori Knotek from torture in their household. However, this would eventually change as time went on. In a disturbing turn of events, she compelled her nephew and Nikki to engage in nude dancing while deriving amusement. Following the torment inflicted upon her children and nephew, she would abruptly shower them with excessive displays of affection known as “love bombs.”

    In December of 1988, shortly after Shane settled into the household, Shelly once again extended her help to someone in need. This time it was Kathy Loreno, a former friend who had recently faced unemployment and desperate circumstances.

  • Loreno became a victim of Shelly’s sinister intentions and found herself trapped with no escape. She endured forced labor while being unclothed, subjected to nightly doses of sedatives, and confined to sleep by the basement boiler. In 1994, Shelly took her dark actions even further after graduating to murder.

    The First Death

    At that point, Loreno had shed more than 100 pounds. Her physique was adorned with bruises, cuts, and sores. Following a particularly brutal assault, she was left unconscious in the basement. Shelly departed, but David heard disturbing sounds from the laundry room. Upon investigation, David found Kathy in a critical condition; she was choking on her vomit, and her eyes were rolled back. Reacting swiftly, he turned her onto her side and attempted to clear her airway by manually removing the vomit. Despite his best efforts, Kathy Loreno’s life could not be saved. The undeniable truth became apparent even after five minutes of performing CPR: Kathy had tragically passed away.

    When Loreno died, Michelle used cunning tactics to manipulate her spouse and children into believing that revealing the truth about his death would result in imprisonment if disclosed outside their immediate family. Following Michelle’s instructions, David Knotek dutifully cremated Loreno’s lifeless body, and together they scattered the ashes, eliminating any traces of this horrifying event.

    If questioned, Shelly Knotek stated that Loreno had run away with her lover. However, Shane could recognize the horrors unfolding around him, which prompted him to devise a plan for escape in February 1995.

  • Before Kathy’s demise, Shane had photographed her while she endured malnourishment and abuse in a frigid basement located alongside a radiator. After revealing the pictures to Nikki, he explained his intentions of presenting them to the authorities. Overwhelmed by fear and worries about what could happen next, Nikki found it within herself to share the troubling images with her mother. Seeking revenge, Shelly instructed David to shoot Shane in the head without hesitation—an incredibly tragic command he sadly fulfilled. Following Loreno’s example, they burned Shane’s lifeless body in their yard before scattering his ashes over a nearby water source.

    Developed A Taste For Killing People

    The Knoteks’ next target, Ron Woodworth, suffered the same fate before facing justice. He was a friend of Shelly, who moved in with them in 1999. Once again, the cycle of abuse began swiftly.

    Despite his struggles as a gay veteran battling drug addiction at 57 years old, Shelly incessantly belittled Woodworth and called him an “ugly lowlife.” She firmly believed that he could straighten out his life through regular pill doses and physical beatings inflicted upon him. Not only did she subject him to emotional torment, but she also denied Woodworth access to necessities such as using the bathroom inside their home. Instead, he was forced to relieve himself outdoors.

    Furthermore, from 2002 onwards, Shelly assumed responsibility for caring for James McClintock – an elderly retiree aged 81 who had served as a merchant crewman. It is reported that once McClintock’s beloved black lab named Sissy passed away someday later on, he intended to leave his $140k estate behind specifically for Knotek’s benefit.

  • Coincidentally or not, McClintock met his demise due to a head injury he supposedly sustained from falling in his home. However, authorities could not officially establish any connection between Knotek and his death.

    Mother Shelly Knotek

    The Malevolent Mother Shelly Knotek. Image Source: Instagram.

    Upon returning to her residence, Knotek subjected Woodworth to cruel demands. She insisted he cut off all ties with his family, forced him to consume his urine, and then commanded him to jump from the roof. Though he survived the fall from the two-story building, it resulted in serious injuries that rendered him incapacitated. As part of her “treatment,” Knotek poured bleach over his wounds.

    In August 2003, Woodworth succumbed to this torment and passed away. The cruel mother Shelly Knotek, concealed Woodworth’s lifeless body inside a freezer while deceiving their mutual acquaintances by fabricating claims about him securing employment in Tacoma.

    Nevertheless, the unexpected vanishing of Woodworth sparked a moment of realization for Tori, who had reached 14 years old by then. With her older siblings having already relocated elsewhere, Tori managed to summon up the bravery needed to disclose her concerns about what may have happened to Woodworth with them. Bolstered by her sisters’ support and encouragement, Tori collected Woodworth’s possessions which served as vital proof when they presented their case before the authorities.

  • Moving onto a lighter topic to escape this grim tale, read about how the curious tale of the mid-century Onion Debacle

    Turned In By Her Own Daughters

    Shelly Knotek daughters handed the evidence over to the police, finally ending the torture and deaths in the Knotek household.

    In 2003, a comprehensive investigation conducted by the police focused on the Knotek property. This resulted in the discovery of Woodworth’s buried remains.

    Shortly after, David and Shelly Knotek were apprehended and taken into custody on August 8th of that year. Tori Knotek, their daughter, was placed under the care of her sister Sami following these events.

  • David eventually admitted to shooting Watson and burying Woodworth five months later. Consequently, he faced charges of second-degree murder for Watson’s shooting and served a prison sentence lasting 13 years. Michelle Knotek faced different charges: second-degree murder for Loreno’s death and manslaughter for Woodwoth’s death.

    Released From Prison

    Michelle Knotek, known as ‘Crazy Shelly,’ was released in 2022 after serving close to twenty years for the murder of multiple individuals and the horrific mistreatment of her daughters and nephew.

    So where is Shelly Knotek now? The specific whereabouts of Knotek following her release remains unclear; however, numerous individuals expressed their belief on social media that she should have remained incarcerated indefinitely.

    After their mother’s release, Shelly Knotek’s daughters were concerned for their safety and warned authorities that Michelle might kill again. A former neighbor highlighted that Knotek’s health is poor, suggesting it is doubtful for her to continue perpetrating acts of violence.

  • The evil mother Shelly Knotek documentaries have been aired on various television shows like Wicked AttractionSins and Secrets, and Snapped.

    Additionally, true crime writer Gregg Olsen published a book titled If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood in 2019, talking about the case.


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    Let’s hope Michelle Knotek has no intentions of adding more victims to her list after being released. Police and concerned authorities must remain alert and see for any signs of trouble around serial killers like Shelly Knotek.


    Blanco, J. I. (n.d.-a). Michelle Knotek | Murderpedia, the encyclopedia of murderers.

    Margaritoff, M. (2023). Shelly Knotek, The Serial Killer Mom Who Tortured Her Own Kids. All That’s Interesting. 

    Cavallier, A. (2023, April 29). America’s “most evil” mother Shelly Knotek is released from prison. Mail Online. 

    Something unspeakable now the talk of two towns | The Seattle Times. (2003, August 17). 

    If you tell summary and study guide | Supersummary. (n.d.). SuperSummary. 

    Wife’s role scrutinized in deaths; vulnerable people drawn to her | The Seattle Times. (2003, August 13). 

    Episode 19: Michelle Knotek. (2015, March 10). Oxygen Official Site. 

    Valentino, R. (2023, June 21). Shelly Knotek: the mother turned serial killer who inflicted brutality on her own family. Medium. 

    Ridley, J. (2019, December 1). Kids of murderer Michelle “Shelly” Knotek warn their mom could kill again. New York Post. 

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