Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Paul John Knowles: The Casanova Killer

The Fiancé

Raiford Penitentiary entrance
Raiford Penitentiary entrance

In 1974, Angela Covic, from San Francisco, got involved with Knowles when he was in Raiford Penitentiary.  She was instrumental in getting him released from prison.  According to the story that Fawkes presented from the newspapers at the time, Covic had met Knowles in 1972 via a magazine called American Astrology.  They became pen pals, although it's not clear who first contacted whom.  His handwriting apparently intrigued her and she was having difficulties in her marriage, so she quickly romanticized the correspondence.  He was eager to accommodate her, assuring her that he would be a wonderful lover.

Such encounters are not unusual.  Many women write to inmates, and the inmates usually underplay what they have done and overplay what they can become, if only they are given a chance.  Knowles apparently told Covic (according to her interview) that he was in prison over a drug transaction, although he was actually serving three years for burglary.  He flattered her, calling her his "angel," and she felt as if she might be his rescuer.  She apparently consulted a psychic, who urged her to try to get legal assistance to get him out of prison.  (This psychic apparently wasn't very skillful, since she failed to foresee just how much damage he would cause in a very short span of time.)  Covic did exactly as she was told, and in May 1974, Knowles was free.  By that time, they had become engaged after one meeting at the prison, so he went right to San Francisco to claim his bride.

Paul John Knowles
Paul John Knowles

Some people, predominantly females, are attracted to incarcerated felons.  They're disparagingly called prison groupies, and they're often considered to be needy losers, but in fact many are financially well-off, stable, attractive, and educated.  Among the reasons that they get so deeply involved are the following:

  • They want to believe they can change someone "bad."
  • They feel a strong need to nurture.
  • They acquire the "perfect boyfriend,": They know where he is at all times, they feel that someone loves them, they can avoid the day-to-day issues of most relationships, and they can keep the fantasy active for a long time.
  • Some women have been abused, neglected or completely without a father figure, so they find an inmate to fill the void.
  • Some women believe they cannot find a man, and because men in prison are desperately lonely, it's an easy way to get involved.
  • Some women like the idea of getting close to danger that will probably not hurt them.


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