Alyssa Taft, a 17-year-old senior at a Sodus, New York high school who was involved in track and drama, was stabbed to death, and authorities accuse her estranged boyfriend, David Knight-Hollis, of murdering Taft because she rebuffed his pleas to rekindle their relationship.
Taft was murdered inside a home in Sodus, a town in Wayne County, New York that has just over 8,000 people. According to Rochester First, David Knight-Hollis, 19, and a graduate of the same high school, “has been charged with murder in the second degree.” The details emerging in the case are horrific. Alyssa’s throat was cut to thwart her screaming after she was stabbed in the ribs, authorities confirmed in a November 3 news conference. The suspect has already appeared in court. Video showed David Knight-Hollis walking into court in an orange jumpsuit.
Authorities say Knight-Hollis was Taft’s ex-boyfriend. Taft was a senior at Sodus High School in the small community in New York State. Alyssa was on the honor roll at her school. “This is domestic violence. This is dating violence,” said the sheriff, adding that he has five daughters of his own. “This is just a 17-year-old kid who came home from school, and now she’s dead.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Sheriff Says Knight-Hollis ‘Lured’ Taft to His Residence
David Knight-Hollis wanted to get back together with Alyssa, but she wasn’t interested, Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts said in a news conference, detailing the grisly details of the homicide. The sheriff said that Alyssa had gone to the Knight-Hollis residence because she thought he was going to pay money back that he owed her. The sheriff said the suspect stabbed Taft and slit her throat, the latter act to stop her from screaming.
The sheriff also unveiled the motive, accusing Knight-Hollis of murdering Taft after she refused his efforts to rekindle their relationship. Taft went to his home after school on the afternoon of November 2, and the sheriff said the murder occurred around that time, although the suspect wasn’t captured for more than nine hours after that point. The sheriff said another person was home at the time, but did not elaborate on that person’s identity, although he said Knight-Hollis lived with his mother, grandmother, and a cousin. The person who was home didn’t hear anything, he said.
“It is believed that Knight-Hollis lured Alyssa Taft to his residence after she returned home from school in an attempt to rekindle a previous relationship. Once at the residence and Alyssa’s refusal to rekindle a relationship, Knight-Hollis grabbed a knife and would not let Alyssa leave the residence. When she attempted to leave, he stabbed her in the ribs and cut her throat to stop her from screaming,” the Sheriff’s Department says in a news release.
Alyssa had dated Knight-Hollis for six months, according to her mother. Knight-Hollis “blocked her (Alyssa Taft) from leaving the residence,” the sheriff reiterated in the news conference. “I don’t think she had any interest whatsoever to rekindle the relationship…her refusal was unacceptable to him. We have a 17-year-old high school kid who’s not going to graduate, who’s not going to see Christmas with her family. It’s just unbelievably sad. Over a relationship.”
The Sheriff’s press release said that the murder occurred in Wayne County, New York, and read: “The Sodus homicide victim is 17 year old Alyssa Taft, a Sodus High School Senior student.” At the arraignment, the suspect pleaded not guilty to second degree murder charges. “David Knight-Hollis, age 19 (DOB 12/17/1997) was charged with Murder in the Second Degree PL 125.25(1) …..’with intent to cause death,” the sheriff’s release says.
2. Alyssa’s Ex Boyfriend Called 911 & Confessed & Then Tried to Dispose of the Body, Authorities Say
It’s alleged that Knight-Hollis, after murdering Taft, called 911 around 12:25 a.m. November 3 to confess. According to a Sheriff’s Department press release, Knight-Hollis told the dispatcher that he “just killed a girl named Alyssa.” The sheriff added that authorities saw blood on the stairway of the home. There were no indications of previous violence in the relationship, he said.
Despite confessing, Knight-Hollis tried to get rid of Alyssa’s body, the sheriff said. Her body was found in a lot near Knight-Hollis’ home, according to the sheriff. According to the sheriff, Knight-Hollis was captured when “he came out of the woods” near his home. Alyssa’s body was “found near the shrub line.”
The sheriff said that Knight-Hollis’ attempt to dispose of the body “was foiled. He called the 911 center.” The Sheriff’s Department saw nothing in Knight-Hollis’ background that would have predicted he was a threat; the sheriff described him as “just a 19-year-old who graduated from Sodus High School. No other criminal history…not on our radar at all.” He added that Knight-Hollis said that he had dated Taft for a year, although her mother said it was only six months, and he said that authorities believe the relationship ended in June or July.
Initial news reports said Knight-Hollis was 29-years-old, but later news reports said he was actually 19. According to The Democrat Chronicle, Alyssa, a “student at Sodus High School, was killed at 6009 Boyd Road, which is Bay Village Mobile Home Community in Sodus. It was not clear if she died inside a residence.” The identity of the suspect was released on the morning of November 3.
Alyssa’s mother had called police to report her missing. “At 23:22 the 911 Center received a call from Sara Taft reporting her daughter, Alyssa Taft, age 17 missing,” a press release from the Sheriff’s Department said.
3. People Expressed Shock & Anger on Social Media
People expressed shock on social media about the murder of someone so young. “There is someone in custody.. RIP Alyssa Taft. So young,” wrote one woman. Others speculated about the identity of the suspect, with word spreading fast about David Knight-Hollis’ identity. Another person posted a photo of Alyssa with the status, “RIP Alyssa Taft ??? ??? hate those relationships… Sorry I posted this guys.. I knew her a little but not a lot… This is her.. Sodus Homicide on Boyd Rd. Alyssa Kimberlee.”
Another friend wrote, “Just sad! This poor girl didn’t deserve this. R.I.P.” A woman wrote, “D*mn Wayne county is horrible its always something now a lil17 yr old girl Alyssa Taft murdered in sodus prayers for her family.” And another tribute: “R.I.P Alyssa Taft ?? Prayers go out to the family in this tragic time.” One person who knew David Knight-Hollis expressed anger, writing, “… thought he wasn’t that guy to do that. Hope his a*s rots ?? hate this boy now.”
4. Alyssa Filled Her Facebook Page With Selfies
One friend told Alyssa Taft on social media that she looked like an “anime girl.” She didn’t write much on her Facebook page, although her profile read, “INTP. Don’t flirt with me.” Mostly, she posted selfies of herself in cars, bathrooms, and homes, like many teenagers her age. Most of the comments on her Facebook page revolved around people telling her that she was pretty or beautiful, and Alyssa thanking them.
She wrote under one selfie, “I’ve always been this way and I call them hasbeens.” Under another selfie, she wrote, “S-A-D B-O-Y-S See me in the cut with it tatted on my chest.” Under a post in which she had blonder hair, she wrote, “Need 2 dye my hair.” And in another, from 2016, “It doesnt look that bad in this pic but my face is pt cute here.”
5. Alyssa Taft Ran Track at the High School
Alyssa Taft was active at her local high school. According to the Democrat & Chronicle, “Taft was a senior at Sodus High, according to Sodus Central School District records, and ran track.” Sodus, where Alyssa lived, is located about 25 miles from Rochester, New York. Alyssa was also involved in drama at the high school. She was also on the honor roll.
The high school is arranging a grief counseling team, the sheriff said. The School District’s mission statement reads, “Nurtured by the influence of a diverse community, our district is committed to the success of every student. We will support our students in developing the skills and strategies needed to achieve academic excellence and to become respectful, responsible, kind citizens of a global society. We are dedicated to sustaining an environment that fosters a joy for life and continued learning.”