A Woodbury man on trial for alleged child molestation fatally slashed his wife’s throat with a knife and injured himself before police found him asleep in the shower Thursday morning, according to criminal charges.
Harvey T. Kneifl, 72, was charged Friday in Washington County District Court with one count of second-degree murder with intent in the death of Julie Kneifl, 72.
While being transported to the hospital for his injuries, Kneifl allegedly told emergency personnel that he “had helped his wife out last night,” the charge said.
Police discovered the crime scene Thursday morning after Harvey Kneifl failed to show up for closing arguments in his molestation trial in Washington County. He was charged in 2017 with 10 felony counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly touching several children on a school bus while working as an attendant.
Police interviewed Kneifl in the hospital Thursday, and he allegedly said that his wife had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for the past four years.
According to the criminal complaint: Kneifl allegedly told police that he placed two knives in a linen closet a few hours before the 10 p.m. news.
“After watching the news he helped the Victim into the bathroom,” the criminal complaint said. “The defendant told the Victim that he was going to help her get to heaven. The Defendant stated that he took one of the knives and cut her throat and put her in the bathtub. Defendant stated it took twenty minutes for her to pass.”
Kneifl cleaned up the scene after she died and placed a blanket over her body, the complaint said. He went into another bathroom in the home and sliced his own neck with the same knife.
Kneifl lay down in the shower and fell asleep until police and a nurse at the facility entered the apartment. Kneifl awoke at that time and told the nurse that his wife was in another bathroom.
“Defendant stated that he killed her out of mercy and that he was just helping her along,” the complaint said.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Julie Kneifl died from a deep laceration to the neck.
Kneifl’s trial attorney, Christopher Keyser, the prosecutor and the judge had asked police to conduct a welfare check at the couple’s apartment in the St. Therese senior living facility at 7555 Bailey Road after Kneifl didn’t show up in court by 9 a.m. Thursday.
Kneifl had no attorney listed for his murder case. Keyser said he did not expect to represent Kneifl on the murder count, given the pending molestation trial that has been postponed until March.
“It’s a very sad situation,” Keyser said.
Keyser said he had no knowledge of Julie Kneifl’s health issues and that although he didn’t interact directly with her, “she was walking on her own. She was talking on her own.”
Julie Kneifl accompanied her husband to court Monday when his trial began. The attorneys made brief statements before the judge that day and submitted evidence for the judge to consider. The case was not being tried before a jury.
Authorities placed $1 million bail for Kneifl, who is expected to survive his injuries.
Kneifl was charged via arrest warrant. Woodbury police said he remained hospitalized at the time of charging.
Keyser said he has not spoken to Kneifl since the Thursday incident and has no knowledge about Kneifl’s condition.