Kevin Knoefel’s wife, Lisa Knoefel, was stabbed to death in their home in the early hours of November 16, 2012, by their foster daughter, 18-year-old Sabrina Zunich. Truck driver Knoefel was driving from Michigan to Ohio when the murder took place, but court documents stated that he was “relatively calm” when he met authorities at the police station.
For several months as Zunich sat in the Lake County, Ohio, jail, Knoefel collected his wife’s life insurance, which he used to purchase their home, put in a swimming pool and buy cars and campers, court documents revealed. Then, in May 2013, Zunich told investigators, “I’m not the only one who did this,” and revealed that she had been in a sexual relationship with Kevin Knoefel, who’d encouraged her to kill his wife.
On August 9, 2013, Knoefel was arrested and charged with sexual battery, conspiracy to commit aggravated murder and complicity to aggravated murder, and his trial started in the spring of 2014. Where is Kevin Knoefel today?
Knoefel Was Found Guilty & Sentenced to Life in Prison With the Possibility of Parole
Knoefel was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder, three counts of complicity to aggravated murder and six counts of sexual battery for the relationship with his foster daughter. The six sexual battery counts total an additional 12 years to be served consecutively to his life sentence, and he was also classified as a tier III sex offender.
Knoefel, now 51, is serving his sentence at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution, where he was admitted in 2014. According to public records, he will be eligible for parole in 2055, when he is 86 years old. The facility is a privately owned prison for minimum- and medium-security inmates that opened in 2000 and had just over 1,700 inmates as of 2015.
Knoefel appealed his verdict to the state of Ohio, but the court of appeals upheld the guilty convictions, court documents show. Another appeal filed in 2017 appears to have been denied in 2019 as the court of appeals affirmed the original guilty judgment.
Knoefel Was Arrested Following a Confession From Zunich & Social Workers Testified Against Him
Lisa Knoefel’s friends and family reported that they thought the widower’s behavior was off from the outset, according to Oxygen. One friend told the outlet, “I can’t say how a person should appear when their wife’s been brutally murdered but he just didn’t appear to be fazed by it.” They also spoke of the inappropriate relationship between Kevin Knoefel and Zunich.
While Zunich denied that Knoefel was involved to begin with, her friend told authorities that Zunich had asked her for help finding a hit man and referred to herself in conjunction with her foster father. Social workers also told authorities that Knoefel had inquired about retaining custody of Zunich in the event of a divorce from his wife and also that Zunich said her foster father had given her money for photographs of herself, Oxygen wrote.
Zunich’s testimony was central to Knoefel’s trial, which concluded on June 11, 2014, when the jury found him guilty on all 11 counts after a nine-hour deliberation. Cleveland.com reported that at his sentencing, Lisa’s ex-husband Nick Zanella told Kevin Knoefel, “You, Kevin, what a piece of crap you are. Someone who thought they could be a man in a man’s world. There are two girls who go through pain every day because of him. I hope you rot in jail for the rest of your life.”