Real Name: Cara Evelyn Knott
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: San Diego, California
Date: December 27, 1986
Details: On the night of December 27, 1986, twenty-year-old college student Cara Knott left her boyfriend's house to travel down Interstate 15 to go home. However, she never made it there. Her parents called her boyfriend, but he did not know her whereabouts. Her father, Sam, went out looking for her. In the early morning hours, he found her white Volkswagen parked on a bridge near the Mercy Road exit from Interstate 15. Several feet from it, her body had been thrown off of the bridge. Sam was so upset by her murder that he planted a garden there to remember her.
Suspects: Cara's boyfriend was investigated and later cleared as a suspect.
Extra Notes: References to this case being on the show are erroneous. Craig Peyer was arrested on January 15, 1987, nearly three weeks after Cara's murder and five days before the first special aired. Therefore, the show never profiled it. However, it was documented on Forensic Files, City Confidential, and Unusual Suspects; it is likely confusion with these shows lead to this case being attributed to Unsolved Mysteries.
Results: Solved. A few weeks after Cara's murder, biological evidence tied Cara's case to a series of suspicious traffic-stops by thirty-six-year-old CHP officer Craig Peyer. Ironically, he had starred in a series of TV news interviews after her murder. Her skin was found on a rope in the trunk of his cruiser; it is believed that he used it to choke her to death. Blood found on her clothes is believed to have belonged to him. Tests indicated that less than 1% of the population could have contributed the blood; He was among that percentage. Also, gold thread on her clothes matched threads taken from the shoulder patch of his uniform.
Multiple women had called into the TV station and the CHP to report that Peyer, the officer in the safety interviews, had pulled them over and acted strangely, asking them on dates. Some of the stated that he pulled them over on the same exit where Cara's car was later found. Two witnesses also saw a patrol officer pulling over a light-colored Volkswagen that night. Fellow CHP officers also recalled that he had bloody scratches on his face the day after her murder. Finally, another CHP officer recalled that he had taken her to the exit where her car was found and stated that "if you ever wanted to dump a body, this would be the place to do it". In 1988, he was tried and convicted in her murder; he was sentenced to twenty-five years to life.
In 2004, as part of a wrongful conviction project, investigators from the District Attorney's office asked Peyer if he wanted them to test DNA on key evidence in the case; he said no. He was denied parole in January 2004 and again in January 2012. He will not be eligible for parole again until 2027.
Sadly, Cara's father, Sam, passed away in 2000.
- Cara Knott on Wikipedia
- Policeman held for murder
- Evidence mounting in strangling death
- Isolated exit ramp was student's tragic ending
- Murder trial opens for cop, convicted once by peers
- Former CHP officer's fate up to jury
- Jury finds patrolman guilty
- An Emotional Judge Gives Peyer 25 Years for Killing Cara Knott
- Ex-CHP officer Peyer gets 25 years to life for slaying
- Judge blames patrol in sentencing former officer for murder
- Civil suit filed
- Former CHP Officer Craig Peyer Denied Parole in Cara Knott Killing
- 30 years ago, a jury convicted a CHP officer for an on-duty murder. The case still resonates
- Badge of Betrayal on YouTube
- Cara Knott on Find a Grave