Michelle Knotek, infamously known as “Crazy Shelly,” is no longer in prison, more than 20 years after she was convicted of torturing and murdering boarders at her home, including her own children and nephew. Her husband, David Knotek, was found guilty of torturing and murdering her nephew, Shane Watson. In 2016, Shelly was released on parole after being convicted of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the deaths of Kathy Loreno and Ronald Woodworth at their home in Raymond, Washington.
However, Dave sought a protection order against Shelly in June 2022, just a month before she was due to be released. Although Knotek’s release location is unknown, she will be under court-ordered supervision for at least a year. The Knoteks’ gruesome crimes against their boarders and own family have received national media attention, due to allegations of abuse and torture that have been made against them for years.
At first glance, the Knoteks appeared to be a happy family. Dave, a former Navy member, supported his family through his work in construction. He married Michelle, who was already a mother of two, in 1987. They welcomed their daughter Tori in 1989, and Nikki and Sami, Michelle’s daughters, were usually well-mannered and elegantly dressed. The family’s relatives, friends, and neighbors were always welcome in their home, including Shane, who moved in with them in 1988 when his parents could not care for him. Kathy Loreno, a stylist and Shelly’s friend, also moved in later that year after losing her job, and Ronald Woodworth, a veteran of the military, found refuge in the Knoteks’ house in 1999 after losing his home. However, the home visitors began to disappear one by one, and Shelly had an explanation for their absence when questioned by their relatives.
However, the Knoteks’ crimes against their boarders and family members were not discovered until 2003 when their three daughters contacted the police. They had hidden years of tragedy until a search of their property turned up a man’s corpse. Shelly, who was then 50 years old, was found guilty of torturing and murdering her victims, but her reign of terror had begun years before with her own family. Shelly would shower her children with love and affection and then beat and humiliate them as punishment.
Shelly’s daughters recounted the horrifying violence they experienced in the book If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood by author Gregg Olsen. The girls’ goal in sharing their story was to prevent their mother from killing again. Shelly was released early from her 22-year sentence after serving 18 years due to accepting a plea agreement via the Alford Plea, which allows a defendant to admit guilt while maintaining their innocence.
In 2019, Shelly’s children expressed concern for the safety of others in the event of their mother’s release. Although Shelly’s release from the Washington Correctional Center for Women was originally scheduled for June 2022, it was postponed until November. When Olsen announced Shelly’s release on social media on November 9, 2022, residents of the small town were shocked. One commenter on the post claimed that “evil is out and among us,” while another asked, “How is this possible?”
Although it is unclear what happened to Shelly after her release from prison, many people believed that she should have remained behind bars permanently. According to a former neighbor, she was in terrible condition, and it seemed unlikely that she would continue her murderous ways.
Shelly’s preferred form of punishment, according to the book, was “wallowing.” She would force her employees to spend hours on end doing menial, repetitive tasks, such as sorting through piles of paperwork or organizing inventory. This punishment was not only tedious and exhausting, but also completely ineffective in terms of actually improving the employees’ behavior or work performance.
When the other managers began to notice the high turnover rate and low morale among Shelly’s team, they decided to investigate further. After speaking with several employees, they discovered the extent of Shelly’s abusive behavior and immediately took action to remove her from her position.
The experience taught everyone involved an important lesson about the importance of respectful and fair treatment in the workplace, and how toxic behavior can have serious consequences for both employees and the company as a whole. It also highlighted the need for strong leadership and effective management training to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future.
Overall, the story of Shelly and her abusive behavior serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of using punishment as a means of controlling and motivating employees. Instead, companies should focus on creating a positive and supportive work environment that encourages growth, development, and mutual respect among all team members.