Ohio man Kevin Knoefel was convicted on Wednesday of convincing his 17-year-old foster daughter to kill his wife. According to prosecutors, Knoefel and his foster daughter, Sabrina Zunich, were romantically and sexually involved and planned to kill Knoefel’s wife so they could collect her life insurance policy and live together.
Knoefel, 43, is facing life in prison for the offense. Zunich, now 19, will soon begin her own murder trial.
The slain woman is Lisa Knoefel. At Kevin Knoefel’s instruction, Zunich snuck into Lisa’s bedroom one night and stabbed her 178 times. After being arrested for murder, Zunich opened up to detectives about Kevin Knoefel’s role in the death.
She said Knoefel told her he loved her more than his wife and wanted to be with her. Knoefel said his wife was “worth more dead than alive” given the shaky state of their marriage, and devised a plot to kill her.
He instructed Zunich on exactly how to most efficiently stab Knoefel to death, and explained to her how to frame Knoefel’s death as a burglary casualty. If Zunich was caught by police, Knoefel told her to either say she did not remember what happened or claim insanity.
Zunich’s revelations led to Knoefel’s arrest, and a jury found her claims to be true. Knoefel was convicted Wednesday of sexual battery, conspiracy to commit aggravated murder and complicity aggravated murder.
“Justice has been served,” Lisa Knoefel’s ex-husband said following the verdict. “He did a heinous act and took advantage of people. Now Lisa can rest.”
Knoefel faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. His attorney, Michael Connick, vowed to appeal the convictions and insists Zunich carried out the murder on her own volition.
“I think Sabrina Zunich murdered Lisa Knoefel,” Connick said. When asked what Kevin Knoefel’s role in the murder was, Connick said, “Nothing. No role.”