Home » Survivor of ‘Casanova Killer’ reveals why she wanted murderer to fall in love with her: ‘All hell broke loose’

Survivor of ‘Casanova Killer’ reveals why she wanted murderer to fall in love with her: ‘All hell broke loose’

by John Jefferson
0 comment

Barbara Mabee Abel was eager to get home after work to find out why her twin sister never answered her phone call. 

She quickly made a horrifying discovery.

It was November 1974 and Abel, a single mom to a six-year-old boy, was working as a copywriter at a West Beach, Florida, radio station. She was living with Beverly, who was born with Cerebral palsy. The women resided in their mother’s home. The matriarch had passed away in May of that year.

“I was calling Beverly all day, and she never answered,” Abel recalled to Fox News Digital. “I knew something was wrong. After I picked up my son from nursery school and drove into the driveway, I noticed the lights were on in the back porch. The lights normally weren’t on. My son Dale and I yelled for Beverly. No answer. Dale runs into his bedroom and I go into the kitchen to go get a drink of water. I had the faucet going on and everything.”


“All of a sudden,” said Abel. “I heard a man. He said, ‘Don’t turn around, or I’ll kill you.’ Then all hell broke loose.”

Abel, who wrote the book, “One Survivor,” is sharing her encounter with John Paul Knowles, coined as the “Casanova Killer” by the press, in the Investigation Discovery (ID) true-crime series “People Magazine Investigates: Surviving a Serial Killer.” It features interviews with survivors, as well as loved ones and investigators.

When Abel first laid eyes on Knowles, she immediately spotted the sawed-off shotgun that was resting by his leg.

A young photo of Barbara Abel

“I knew I had to use reverse psychology,” Abel explained. “I didn’t want anyone to get hurt. He kept telling me about killing someone, and he tied up my son with my sister in the bed. The neighbor kept knocking on the door. I thought he was going to get his gun and shoot the neighbor, shoot us all… I thought I had to be the best actress in the world. That’s when I said I would ride with him, wherever he wanted to go, as long as no one was hurt.”

“I needed him to think that I was in love with him,” said Abel. “I didn’t want him to take my son or hurt anyone. So I gave it my best performance to help us all live.”

Before Abel left with Knowles, she kissed her sister goodbye. Blood was dripping from Beverly’s mouth. She was naked, bound and gagged. Abel promised her that everything would be all right. A smug Knowles declared that he had attempted to rape Beverly.

Knowles took Abel’s car and the family’s mortgage money. In exchange for Dale and Beverly staying alive, Knowles took Abel with him.


Barbara Mabee Abel with her son and mother

“I knew I had to make him fall in love with me to save my life,” said Abel. “I knew something bad was going to happen to me if I didn’t make him fall in love with me. I knew in my heart of hearts that he probably had hurt somebody before he came to our home. He bragged about it. But I certainly didn’t know it was murder. I thought he had just beaten somebody up to rob them. 

“As he was driving on the road, he started talking about his family. Then he started talking about killing people because he had done it already… He became comfortable with me. I knew he liked me, so I had to take advantage of that. I needed to stay alive.”

Knowles, who had already terrorized the South, had been linked to at least 18 murders by investigators, Oxygen.com reported. According to the outlet, one officer said Knowles was “more vicious than Ted Bundy.” The Orlando native, known for being a charming smooth talker with “gaunt good looks,” targeted men, women and children.

John Paul Knowles smoking a cigarette

Knowles took Abel to a local motel where he tied her up and repeatedly raped her.

“The sheets were tied around my ankles,” Abel tearfully said. “My wrists were also tied by the bedsheets. He put a gag in my mouth. I was lying on my back and, all of a sudden, I saw my mother. She was wearing this beautiful white gown… That’s when I knew I was going to be OK.”

At one point, Knowles turned on the TV. The news reported that Abel was missing, and that her son had freed himself. Abel learned that Dale rushed next door to his neighbor, who called 911. Police were looking for Knowles.


Barbara Mabee Abel being embraced by her son Dale

“He was happy to see himself on TV,” said Abel. “That’s when I knew that he was telling the truth. He had killed before.”

Abel was held captive for 18 hours. She made it through the night with little sleep, praying that Knowles wouldn’t kill her. Once the sun rose, a hungry Knowles took Abel to a nearby diner. 

Abel’s stomach rumbled as she smelled the fresh bread. As Knowles chowed down on a hearty breakfast of eggs, toast and hash browns with orange juice, Abel looked around, hoping someone would recognize her. But Knowles’ gun, which was by his side, reminded her not to make any sudden movements.

The pair returned to the motel where Knowles raped Abel again.

John Paul Knowles in handcuffs walking in between two men

Hours later, the news reported on Knowles again. But this time, Knowles wasn’t impressed with how he was being portrayed. He took his gun and pointed it at Abel’s head, shouting “bang, bang.” He laughed hysterically.

Knowles tied up Abel again before heading outside to make a phone call. Abel frantically looked around and then turned her attention to the nightstand. There was the key to the motel room.

Knowles returned to the room but couldn’t get inside. The door was locked. Both he and Abel realized that the key was still inside.


Barbara Mabee Abels mother standing in between plants outside her home

“He told me he loved me and that he couldn’t get into the room,” said Abel. “Then he took off. I was trying to figure out how the heck I was going to get this key while still being tied up. That’s when the dear Lord helped me. I saw some glass and I tried to get it to break, so I could cut the bedsheets off my wrist. That didn’t work. Eventually, I figured out the nightstand had a glass tabletop with a corner that was already broken. That’s how I got free, believe it or not.”

According to Oxygen, Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Charles Campbell pulled Knowles over during a routine traffic stop. Knowles grabbed Campbell’s gun and held him hostage. 

Using the patrol car, Knowles pulled over driver James Mayer. Knowles drove both men to Pulaski County, Georgia, where he handcuffed them to a tree and shot them in the head. 

Knowles was captured by police.

John Paul Knowles walking in handcuffs

In December 1974, Knowles took law enforcement officials to the scene of one of his crimes, Oxygen reported. He used a paperclip to open one of his handcuffs before lunging for Douglas County Sheriff Earl Lee’s gun. Knowles was shot in the chest three times by GBI agent Ronnie Angel. He was 28.

Barbara Mabee Abel with a man in a white coat and her sister wearing a blue shirt

“I think that was one of the happiest days of my life,” said Abel. “It was wonderful… because he wouldn’t kill anybody else. We praised the Lord.”

According to Oxygen, Knowles claimed he killed 35 people. However, authorities said he was known to embellish his crimes.

Abel said that following Knowles’ death, she suffered from PTSD. But it was her faith in God that helped her family rebuild.


Barbara Mabee Abel in a pink floral dress with Jim Abel in a suit and bowtie

“I chose to forgive John Paul Knowles for what he did to me,” said Abel. “I did not want to be another statistic… I chose to be a survivor.”

It would take years before Beverly and Dale spoke candidly about the crime.

Barbara Mabee Abels sister wearing a blue shirt and jeans and holding onto crutches

“We didn’t have shrinks back then,” said Abel. “They had to go through their demons. But the dear Lord was on our side. And that’s how we made it – with God’s help.”

Barbara Mabee Abel wearing a formal graduation gown standing next to her husband Jim in a plaid shirt

Abel went on to find love. She’s been married to Jim Abel for 43 years.

“He’s 6’6′ and good-looking,” Abel chuckled. “… I was just so blessed to meet Jim because he’s my soulmate now.”

Today, Abel hopes her story will give other survivors of a crime hope that they can make it to the other side.


Barbara Mabee Abel surrounded by her family

“Nobody knows what life is going to bring,” she said. “I want to help people. I want to help people come out of the darkness. Just like I did.”

“People Magazine Investigates: Surviving the Casanova Killer” airs May 19 at 9 p.m.

Read the full article here

You may also like

Leave a Comment

Our Company

True Battle is your one-stop website for the latest politics news from the US and the World, follow us now to get the news that matters to you.


Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest political news, articles & new reports. Let's stay updated!

Laest News

© Copyright 2023 – All Right Reserved

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy