NBC News’ ‘Dateline: Fire and Ice’ delves into the tragic murder of Carmela Knight in September 2014. Firefighters arrived at her house to douse a fire, only to discover her dead body in the garage. The investigation revealed that Carmela was a homicide victim, and quickly, the authorities looked at her husband, David Knight. Ultimately, it was Graham MacDonald who seemed to be at the center of a murder-for-hire scheme. So, if you’re curious to find out more, we’ve got you covered.
Who is Graham MacDonald?
At around 8 pm on September 15, 2014, the authorities found Carmela Knight’s charred body inside her garage in Pickering in Ontario, Canada. The police eventually learned that the mother of two had been strangled and beaten to death, after which the fire was started to presumably cover up the evidence. There was a syringe with some traces of cocaine found on her body, but loved ones maintained she was not a drug user. As part of the investigation, the authorities learned that Carmela and David had been going through an acrimonious divorce after she found out about his extramarital affair.
The authorities looked into David, but he was elsewhere at the time of the murder, leading them to explore other options. Eventually, they were led to Graham MacDonald. He had been doing some repair work at the Pickering house and was known to David. To learn more, the police carried out an undercover operation starting in November 2014. At the time, Graham lived in a hotel in Port Hope, Ontario. An undercover officer posed as a fence for stolen property and eventually introduced Graham to other officers who posed as low-level criminals.
Graham was asked to help out on some deals and was paid for it, leading him to trust them. In January 2015, one of the officers took him ice fishing. On the way there, the police had arranged for them to get pulled over. As the officer ran their IDs, Graham heard the dispatcher mentioning that he was being investigated for murder. He appeared rattled after that, talking about Carmela’s murder in detail. While fishing, Graham said that David asked him to kill the 39-year-old for $100,000 and a job in Florida. However, he claimed that David never paid him.
The authorities learned that Graham had waited for Carmela in the house, ambushed her, and then killed her. After that, he set fire to the garage and said, “F—, it was scary, man. Everything went up. I couldn’t get the doors open. It was scary. I went out through a side door I didn’t want to use — there’s an alarm system.” Ultimately, Graham got out of the house and fled the scene. Graham added during his conversation during ice fishing, “I tried to cover everything I do — I thought I did. I thought I did an OK job. I studied. I tried to look at everything involved. Obviously, I did something right to get this far.”
After that, the undercover officer introduced him to his “boss,” who said there was someone dying of cancer who was ready to take the blame for Carmela’s killing. All he needed was some money for his children. As a result, Graham told them what happened, providing details only the killer would know. He detailed the floor plan of Carmela’s house and admitted to leaving behind the syringe with cocaine.
Later, court testimony revealed that Graham bought drugs from two people. To one of them, he mentioned it was to eliminate a human being, and to another, he claimed it was for a mission that would net him $100,000. In February 2015, the authorities listened in on Graham’s meetings with David. In one such meeting, David gave Graham $5000, and in another, a rosary that he claimed was from Carmela’s bag. David was told about the plan of another person to confess to the murder. The two men were arrested soon after, and Graham was the first to stand trial.
Where is Graham MacDonald Today?
During the undercover investigation, Graham MacDonald expressed anger at not receiving the money promised to him and considered blackmailing David or even “making him disappear.” In February 2018, then 31, he was found guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and arson. Graham was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years for the murder, 18 years for conspiracy, and five years for arson.
The latter two were to be served concurrently with the life sentence. While Graham was asked to testify at David’s trial, he proved noncooperative; he shouted expletives and showed the middle finger while in court. But David was also found guilty based on the plethora of evidence against him. It seems that Graham is currently serving his sentence at a correctional facility in Ontario.
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