How well do you know your neighbors? For the few folks who knew Sue Knight in Athens, Texas, that question is still haunting them decades later.
She seemed to pop up in town out of nowhere, with no connections to Northeast Texas and a charming British accent. But her sudden death was even more mysterious – leading to suspicious phone calls and a sheriff’s dire warning.
It’s a story producers Jenna Burnett and Caroline Hamilton couldn’t let go, and they follow it in a new podcast called “Under Cover of Knight.” Burnet and Hamilton spoke with the Texas Standard about a few of the mysteries surrounding Sue Knight – including if that was even her real name.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: I don’t think I’ve ever heard this story before, but it’s quite amazing. Jenna, how did you come across it, and what made you want to go out to Athens and dig deeper?
Jenna Burnett: Well, actually, I’m born and raised in Texas. Been here my whole life. And when I saw a Texas story come across my desk, I was thrilled, very excited to jump in. It really all started because Heather, one of our executive producers, grew up in Athens – about an hour and a half outside of Dallas – and knew the man who was named the executor of Sue’s estate after she died – Sue Knight, the person whose mystery we’re trying to solve.
Caroline, what was your reaction when you heard about this story?
Caroline Hamilton: You know, I was really fascinated. There’s so many interesting tidbits in this story that just really draw you in. There’s a call from the CIA. There’s, you know, all these mysterious things that happen. And I just had to know more. I had to find out what was going on in this town.
So you start out this story with the executor of Sue’s will, Steven and his wife, Jamie. Who are they, and why are they so important to this story?
Jenna Burnett: Steve and Jamie really didn’t know Sue that well. They knew her sort of casually. Sue had rented from Steve when he was working as a property manager at one point. So they were really surprised to find that Steve had been named the executor of Sue’s estate. And really, he’s the one who started experiencing all of the strangeness around her case.
After she died, he received a phone call from someone saying that they were from the CIA and wanted to take custody of the body. Similar story: Receiving a phone call from someone saying they were from Scotland Yard. And then he got sort of a warning from the the sheriff, who was his friend. He asked him to look into it, and the sheriff said, “you should wash your hands of this and walk away.”
And it’s bothered him ever since. It’s been 25 years. And so now he is really invested in finding out what actually happened there.
How long ago did this happen?
Jenna Burnett: Sue died in 1996.
So this has been an unsolved mystery since then. You know, the folks who knew her, who you talked to, Jenna, how did they describe Sue when she was alive?
Jenna Burnett: Isn’t that a great question? So many people have so many different stories. Some people say that she was very secretive and very quiet and stayed to herself. Other people say she was the friendliest person you’d ever meet. So that’s part of what we’re trying to do in this podcast, is sort of paint a portrait of this woman who’s been gone for so long and who so many people didn’t know very well.