Strangling woman was “regrettable mistake,” Calgary killer says

Kristopher Guenther slapped a strip of industrial strength tape across the mouth of former fiancé Lacey Jones McKnight – because she was struggling and begging for her life, pleading that she still loved him. He tied her arms and legs with rope. He yanked a plastic bag over her head. He choked the life from her with his bare hands, telling her he was sorry “it had to be this way.” Six years later, Guenther proclaims, with stunning impudence and shamelessness, that it was a “regrettable mistake” because, really, he’s a “respectful, caring, open-minded guy.”

Lacey Jones McKnight and Kristopher Guenther, who strangled her to death in Calgary in 2012

In Guenther’s twisted logic, it would have to be a “regrettable mistake” that he savagely murdered the 20-year-old woman if he could hope to justify his preposterous assertion that he’s a “respectful, caring, open-minded guy.” This is how the imprisoned Calgary murderer describes himself, emboldened by loneliness behind bars and seemingly unburdened by remorse.

Guenther, 35, is looking for a new girlfriend with an advertisement on a penpal-dating website for convicts. He says he’s seeking a woman willing to overlook his “regrettable mistake” because he’s “looking to the future to improve my life and myself and not make those mistakes again.” Perhaps Guenther intended this passage in his penpal notice to be akin to what’s known in advertising as puffery – exaggerated, boastful claims that are so obviously false that any reasonable person would recognize them as wholly untruthful. Maybe Guenther is simply a narcissistic deviant – perhaps even a psychopath – who has quickly moved on, post-murder, to a state of denial, victim-blaming, rationalization and, brazen lying.

Lying seems second nature to him. Explanations he offered at his murder trial in 2015 about incriminating evidence were “contrived” and “absolutely ludicrous,” the trial judge concluded. Alberta’s top court later agreed, rejecting his appeal.
Guenther, 35, strangled Jones McKnight to death in October 2012 at his southeast Calgary home. The two had an on-again, off-again relationship. He cheated. Jones McKnight was angry when she discovered it and the pair argued. The woman with whom Guenther cheated, Megan Thibault, testified at his trial in 2015 that Guenther told her, in “gruesome detail” how he committed the murder.

“He choked her several times and she struggled…[Jones-McKnight] was pleading that they could work it out and that she loved him. He told her that he said he was sorry that it had to be this way, but he knew that she would go to the police, and he continued to choke her.”

Guenther also drove to Thibault’s workplace after the murder, with the body of Jones McKnight in his car, so he could prove to Thibault that he had killed the woman.

Guenther testified in his own defence at the trial. He admitted that he choked Jones McKnight, but claimed that two had sex earlier that day that included bondage and autoerotic asphyxiation. Guenther insisted that this explained police finding tape and a plastic bag in his car and home, including ripped tape with Guenther’s fingerprints. Jones McKnight’s DNA was found on the bag and on some tape. These convenient explanations were dubbed “contrived” and “absolutely ludicrous” by the trial judge. Jones McKnight died of asphyxia due to manual strangulation, forensic examination revealed. She had bruises on her extremities.

One of the photos that appears in Guenther’s penpal ad

In his penpal ad on the Canadian Inmates Connect website, Guenther says he’s “coming to terms with the consequences” of his regrettable mistake. This may be his way of saying – without openly admitting – that life behind bars in a federal penitentiary isn’t fun. In the notice, Guenther indicates he’s currently at Edmonton Institution, a maximum-security penitentiary known for gang violence. Guenther was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. Alberta’s top court concluded his grounds of appeal were “without merit.”

Guenther states, in his penpal ad, that he’s “looking for someone to share a friendship and possibly more if it’s meant to be that way.” He says, “I hope there is a woman who finds me interesting enough to write and I’ll definitely write back.” He claims that “family is very important to me” because he has two children “that I would do anything for.”

The ad includes two photos of Guenther in a black tank top with heavily tattooed arms visible, including one photo in which he’s crouching and making a heart with his hands.

Jones McKnight’s family has criticized Calgary Police, accusing them of failing to respond appropriately to the family’s concerns in the weeks leading up to her death. Her mother has said police were contacted six times in the weeks before the murder with complaints that Guenther was threatening the young woman.

Guenther’s penpal advertisement:

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