The Virginia Parole Board announced Monday the denial of parole for 72-year-old William Michael Knowles, who is serving life plus 81 years.
Knowles was convicted in 1996 of first-degree murder, robbery, and attempted aggravated murder of his daughter.
The board’s decision stated: “Release at this time would diminish the seriousness of the crime” and concluded he should serve “more of his sentence.”
Knowles told the Montgomery County court he talked with angels who said for him to kill his wife, Angie. At the time, his attorneys argued he was mentally ill and should be convicted of a lesser charge. A circuit court jury didn’t agree.
On the day of his sentencing, Knowles tried to cut his own throat with a disposable razor he had slipped into the courtroom. Deputies were able to take the razor from him before he was able to do any damage. He later tried a similar incident with a pencil.
Details about the shooting were played out over a three-day trial. His daughter attempted to block the shotgun blast during the initial incident and suffered a gunshot wound.
Knowles had traveled out of the country and spent time in Israel sending handwritten letters to the editor of several local newspapers.
Knowles testified that he had a religious conversion at age 16 and had conversed with angels at times since then. It was an angel, according to Knowles, that told him to make the Middle East trip. When he returned, he discovered his wife and children had moved out of his Christiansburg home.
Following the incident, Knowles even wrote a letter to then-newspaper columnist Ann Landers admitting to the killing. He later filed a suit against the columnist in federal court, saying she changed his words in the letter.
The former postal worker had pleaded not guilty but admitted to police that he shot his wife, Angela, because he loved her and couldn’t let her go. He wrote to Landers from the Montgomery County Jail where he was awaiting trial.
In his letter, Knowles said he believed his wife was having an affair with a man she met online but claimed that by publishing his letter, Landers slandered and condemned him without a jury. He sued for nearly $100 million, but the suit was thrown out.
In her response published below the letter, Landers took Knowles to task for his assertion that the Internet led to the shooting.
“While the Internet may increase opportunities for an affair, the danger to your wife came from you, not the computer,” she said. “Blaming the Internet is a cop-out. You killed your wife because she left you.”
Dr. Carl McGraw, a clinical psychologist with the Virginia Highlands Health Association, testified in the trial that Knowles suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.
In a separate matter, the Virginia Parole Board announced its reasoning for denying parole for Stephen Epperly of Radford. It was the same as that in the Knowles case: “Release at this time would diminish the seriousness of the crime.”
Epperly was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in the death and disappearance of then-Radford University coed Gina Hall.