Emily Murray Murder: Where is Gregory McKnight Now?

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Murder in the Heartland: Last Shift at Pirate’s Cove’ chronicles the gruesome murder of 22-year-old college junior Emily Murray, in Gambier, Ohio, in November 2000. The police caught the killer within a month of the teen’s disappearance and slaying but were shocked to find she might not have been the only victim.

How Did Emily Murray Die?

Emily Sarah Aberle Murray was born to Thomas and Cynthia Murray in Sleepy Hollow, New York, on February 19, 1980. She spent most of her life in Shaker Heights, Ohio, where she attended local schools and participated in many activities, the most prominent being her involvement at Christ Episcopal Church and with the Youth Ministry activities of the Diocese of Ohio. A meritorious student, Emily had studied for a semester in Oxford, England, and had traveled to Italy, New Zealand, and Japan.

In November 2000, Emily was in her junior year at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Her family described her as an exceptionally kind-hearted person with a joyful and caring spirit who touched many lives. She was majoring in Philosophy with the career goal of becoming an Episcopal Priest. She worked as a part-time server at Pirate’s Cove, a restaurant about 100 yards from her Kenyon College dormitory. Her co-worker, Luette Frost, said, “Emily was kind, enthusiastic, and cared for other people.”

Hence, it was shocking when she failed to appear at a party on the evening of November 3 after not returning from her late-night duty at the restaurant. Her friends were concerned since it was uncharacteristic of Emily not to leave a message regarding her whereabouts. They also could not find her Subaru Outback on campus or anywhere nearby. They filed a missing person report, and the authorities found her body in a trailer in a rural location near Ray, Ohio. Emily had died from a single gunshot wound to the head, fired with a high-powered weapon.

Who Killed Emily Murray?

According to court documents, Emily Murray quit her job on November 2 and spent her last evening working at Pirate’s Cove. Many of her college friends dropped in at the restaurant to celebrate her last night at work. However, all of them left before she finished her late-night duty. The restaurant’s employee time cards showed she finished work at 3:07 am and was last seen alive by Nathan Justice, the bartender at the Pirate’s Cove, looking for her keys before 3:30 am.

When Emily did not return to her dormitory that night or attend a party scheduled in the evening, her friends got worried. They called her parents in New York and searched for her on campus or at her workplace. After an unsuccessful search, they notified Kenyon College Security. The security personnel found her wallet, which contained her Ohio and New York driver’s licenses, credit cards, and bank card, inside her dormitory room. Court documents stated her friends also talked with Emily’s co-workers, one of whom was Gregory “Greg” B. McKnight.

Greg had been employed as a kitchen worker at the Pirate’s Cove restaurant since early October 2000. As per the show, he shared an amicable relationship with his colleagues and often rode with them to his home in Gambier after work. Greg was also protective of Emily and had stopped one of their co-workers, David Kale, from allegedly hitting on her. However, he became a person of interest in the case after police found he had a prior record of shooting a man dead in Columbus, Ohio.

Greg was 15 in 1992 when he committed the crime and served a short sentence at the Circleville Youth Center. He was released from prison in 1997 and married Kathryn “Kathy” McKnight, a former corrections officer at the Youth Center, in 1998. They resided in her mother’s Gambier residence and purchased a trailer in rural Ray, Ohio, in June 2000. According to court documents, Emily’s friend became suspicious of him when Greg was allegedly extremely curt with them and refused to offer any information.

Greg claimed he had departed around 2:59 am on November 3, with none of the workers at the restaurant recalling seeing him leave with Emily. Her friends alleged he smirked at them, and Nathan testified Greg told him shortly after Emily’s disappearance that he felt she was “probably dead.” More than a month after Emily’s disappearance, the police went to Greg’s trailer to serve him with an unrelated indictment. While he was not there, the officers found an abandoned Subaru Outback a few meters from the trailer.

They ran the number plate and found it belonged to Emily. Law enforcement officials executed a search warrant to find bloodstains on the carpet near the trailer’s front door. They followed the blood trail down the hallway and discovered Emily’s body wrapped in a rug in one of the bedrooms. The investigators thoroughly searched the trailer to find five spent .357 shell casings inside a drawer in the living room, seven 9-millimeter bullets inside a drawer in the master bedroom, and a roll of bloodstained duct tape in the living room.

Gregory McKnight is Still on Death Row

The authorities also scoured the property to find human bones and clothing in the cistern, the root cellar, and a plastic bag. The perpetrator had unsuccessfully tried to burn the remains and clothes. The officers identified the human remains belonged to 20-year-old Greg Julious, who was reported missing on May 12, 2000, from Chillicothe, Ohio. Greg Julious’ girlfriend, Dana Bostic, identified the remains of boxer shorts he was wearing when he disappeared.

Greg and Kathy were charged with double murder, but the latter was released due to a lack of evidence. Greg’s trial began on October 1, 2002, and he was convicted on all charges of murder, aggravated murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, receiving stolen property, and complicity. He was sentenced to death for the aggravated murder charge, life imprisonment for the murder charge, 10 years for the kidnapping charge, 8 years for the complicity charge, and 1 1/2  years for receiving stolen property. The 46-year-old remains on death row at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution.

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