CAMBRIDGE — The Linkwood man charged in connection to the October 2021 shooting death of his 77-year-old father pleaded guilty to murder Tuesday, Nov. 15.
Douglas Lamont McKnight, 51, was convicted of first-degree murder for the death of his father, Douglas Washington McKnight of Linkwood, who was fatally stabbed and shot in mid-October last year.
Officers from the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office responded to a home in the 3700 block of Ocean Gateway in Linkwood shortly after 2 p.m. Oct. 17, 2021, in response to a 911 call for a death investigation. The 911 caller was identified as the younger McKnight.
Police found the elder McKnight deceased in a bedroom with a gunshot wound to the head and multiple lacerations to his head, neck and hands. Investigators said the lacerations to his hands were consistent with defensive wounds. Detectives also found multiple shotgun shells near the victim.
The state medical examiner’s office later determined that the elder McKnight’s death was a homicide, and the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and large lacerations consistent with a machete-style bladed weapon to his head and neck area.
Police interviewed the younger McKnight on the day his father’s body was discovered. At the time, McKnight denied any involvement in the murder of his father, and also gave police consent to search his 2007 Ford Explorer.
Investigators recovered an 18-inch machete containing blood under the rear seat of the vehicle.
Detectives with the Maryland State Police Homicide Unit also reviewed surveillance footage from neighboring residences, which showed McKnight’s Ford Explorer arriving at his father’s home within five minutes of the 911 call. Initial charging documents stated that McKnight stayed inside of the residence for approximately four minutes and then drove toward Route 50, which was when he called 911.
Police identified robbery as a motive early on in the case following interviews with the victim’s family, where they learned that the elder McKnight had recently stopped providing his son with financial support, leading to an argument.
During Tuesday’s plea hearing, prosecutor Molly W. Fox provided facts that supported investigators’ initial theory, saying that McKnight told his friend “Oct” that they could get drug money by robbing the elder McKnight.
“Oct” was identified as Octavius Ralphfawn Thomas, 44, of Cambridge. Thomas is also charged in the murder of McKnight’s father and his case remains open.
Another interview with McKnight the day after his father’s body was discovered in the Linkwood home further solidified the motive as robbery.
McKnight confessed to investigators that he and Thomas planned to rob his father for money. He told police that he dropped Thomas off in the woods near the Linkwood home on Oct. 15, 2021, and instructed him to rob his father. Thomas also went into the elder McKnight’s home with a machete.
Thomas later returned to the vehicle with money, blood-soaked clothes and the machete. He told the younger McKnight that there was a struggle and he had to use a gun to fight McKnight’s father.
Fox said that $1,400 was taken from the victim, and McKnight and Thomas split the money evenly.
Fox added that Thomas was already on parole for another unrelated crime and was wearing a GPS ankle monitor. GPS data records indicated that Thomas was in the exact location of the elder McKnight’s residence at the time of the murder, she said.
Police later found the shotgun with blood on the barrel, along with bloodstained clothing consistent with surveillance footage and witness testimony, in Thomas’ apartment in Cambridge.
Both men were arrested on murder charges the day after the elder McKnight’s body was discovered. Both remain held without bond in the Dorchester County Detention Center.
Circuit Judge Brett W. Wilson accepted McKnight’s guilty plea, commenting that he was an “essential player” in the murder. Wilson also ordered a full pre-sentence investigation.
McKnight is scheduled to be sentenced at 3 p.m. Jan. 19 in the Dorchester County Circuit Court.