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Casanova Killer: How a Handsome Devil Raised Hell and Left a Trail of Bodies From Florida to Texas (FPD CASE VAULT)

Paul John Knowles: Casanova Killer Shot in Cop Car
Source: AP Photo

Knowles was an escape artist.

Nov. 25 2023, Published 2:02 p.m. ET

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Paul John Knowles was a handsome devil born to raise hell!

Although he never gained the notoriety of other infamous twisted fiends, Knowles — known as the “Casanova Killer” for his good looks and devious charm — left a trail of bodies from Florida to Texas during a 1974 rampage.

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A troubled kid who was in and out of jail from the age of 19, Knowles was arrested at first mostly for robberies and assaults. But on July 26, 1974, while serving time on an assault charge in Florida, he broke out of prison and set off on a 15-week, multi-state killing spree.

Several of his victims — who included men, women and children — were shot or stabbed. At least two women were strangled with their own panty hose.

On Nov. 17, 1974, Knowles was pulled over by a Florida state trooper while driving a stolen car. He took the officer hostage, then used the police cruiser to stop another motorist, taking the driver hostage. Knowles sped away to a remote, wooded location in central Georgia, handcuffed the two men to a tree and shot both in the head.

A massive manhunt ensued. Knowles was eventually apprehended in McDonough, Ga. Despite his capture, the Casanova Killer was unwilling to admit defeat.

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Seated in the back of a police car, Knowles picked his handcuffs with a paperclip and lunged over the front seat. He tried to snatch the holstered gun from one of the two law enforcement officers he was traveling with, and was subsequently shot and killed by the other.

At least that’s the official story. Many speculate he was shot by cops as revenge for the murder of one of their own. Knowles was positively tied to 18 slayings, but before his death, he claimed responsibility for 17 others.


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