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Man Pleads Innocent in Torture Killings

August 26, 2003

SOUTH BEND, Wash. (AP) _ A man accused along with his wife in the deaths of three people who lived with them in their small farmhouse has pleaded innocent to first-degree murder.

David Knotek, 50, also pleaded innocent Monday to rendering criminal assistance and unlawful disposal of human remains. His wife, Michelle Knotek, 49, previously pleaded innocent to two charges of first-degree murder, since downgraded to either second-degree murder or first-degree manslaughter.

The Knoteks remain in the Pacific County jail on $5 million bail each.

The three victims lived with them over the past decade at their quaint red farmhouse in Raymond, in southwest Washington.

Michelle Knotek is charged in the deaths of Kathy Loreno, a 36-year-old hairdresser who was reported missing in 1994, and Ronald Woodworth, a 57-year-old man who disappeared last month. David Knotek is charged in the shooting death of Shane Watson, the couple’s 19-year-old nephew, who disappeared after Loreno was last seen.

Witnesses have said Michelle Knotek abused and tortured Loreno and Woodworth. Investigators allege Watson was killed because he took pictures documenting the abuse of Loreno.

In affidavits filed earlier this month, authorities say David Knotek confessed to shooting Shane Watson and led them to the grave of Ronald Woodworth, whom Knotek said he buried in the backyard. Human remains were unearthed, though they have not been positively identified.

A judge on Monday ordered David Knotek to provide hair, fingernail and handwriting samples. Prosecutors sought hair and fingernail samples from the Knoteks because they believe the samples could show the Knoteks poisoned their alleged victims.

``The facts of this investigation so far indicate that some or all of the victims in this case were chronically abused,″ prosecutor Lori Miller said in court filings.

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