Telling the story of the most brutal murder in Coffey County, Kansas’ history

Sometimes a story reaches out and holds on to you, haunting your thoughts during the day and your dreams at night.

Florence Knoblock’s murder and the subsequent investigation and trials stayed on the front page almost every day for an entire year.

During the past five years, the story of the 1925 murder of Florence Knoblock, a farmwife and mother who lived in Coffey County, Kansas, has been front and center in my mind.

Florence had no enemies. There was no sign of a burglary. For a community that not only didn’t lock their doors, but didn’t have locks on their doors, the idea of a dangerous stranger roaming their farms and streets was terrifying.

Coffey County needed someone to pay for this crime for their own piece of mind. And that’s where the real story begins.

Florence Knoblock and her son, Roger.

Four arrests. A husband who went to trial twice for his wife’s murder before being acquitted of the crime, only to lose his home, his livelihood, and the trust of many of his neighbors. A four-year-old child who no longer had a mother. Two of Kansas’ most amazing reporters covering the story. A community that needed someone–anyone–to pay for this crime for their own piece of mind. And ultimately, an unsolved crime.

I was mesmerized.

I began to research and write the story of the murder that forever changed a family and a community. I had to know how the story ended.

I had to understand why a tight-knit farm community—people who worked together, worshipped together, raised their children together—would ultimately choose to believe they had identified but failed to convict a murderer rather than accept the possibility that the real murderer lived and worked among them in anonymity.

I believe very strongly in the need to tell the story of Kansas and the people who lived here. Florence Knoblock’s murder impacted communities both near and far. The story is an important part of 1920s Kansas history, a snapshot of life and crime an era when the old was giving way to the modern. I believe this story should be available to all Kansans, Kansans at heart, and anyone with an interest in history and true crime. The completed manuscript is ready to move to the next stage.

Click here to learn how you can help preserve Kansas history and get your own copy of Shadow on the Hill!

Here’s how you can help preserve Kansas history by making it available for generations to come.

Today, I’ve launched a campaign at to raise the funds needed to create the kind of quality book that libraries will want for their shelves and readers will want in their personal collections and pass along to friends. All pledges will be acknowledged on my website (unless the giver prefers to remain anonymous). For pledge as small as $15, you’ll also get a copy Shadow on the Hill. And for a slightly bigger gift, you’ll receive a print of Stephan Anderson-Story’s fabulous photo of the old Knoblock house and farmstead.

Project updates will be available here on blog, on my Twitter feed, and on the official Shadow on the Hill facebook page!

Thank you so much for being such an amazing community of online friends. And if you can’t participate at this time, if you think this project might be exactly right for someone you know, I would be honored if you would pass along the link.

8 thoughts on “Telling the story of the most brutal murder in Coffey County, Kansas’ history

  1. Veronica

    Omgoodness, this is so incredibly cool and exciting. I got goosebumps watching the video you put together-great job! I clicked your link and was SO CRAZY WITH HAPPINESS to see you already surpassed your goal! If I’m able, I will give a donation next time I am paid b/c I really want to read this and am just super happy for you and want to support you. Congrats. I can’t wait!

    1. Diana Staresinic-Deane Post author

      Thanks, Veronica! It has been humbling to see how many people out there–friends, family, perfect strangers–have shown enthusiasm for making this book a reality. I’m really pleased it is coming together. I wasn’t prepared to reach the goal so quickly, either.

    1. Diana Staresinic-Deane Post author

      Carolyn, thanks so much for your post! I am amazed at how many Mozingo and Knoblock family members I’ve had the opportunity to meet (in person or online) through this project.

      I think one of the reasons why this story is so compelling is that Florence Knoblock was just a normal woman living a normal life. She could have been related to any of us. It brings the tragedy a little closer to home.

      I’ve posted a note on the official facebook page for family members who are interested in connecting with each other. Please feel free to post a comment if you’d like to reach out to other family members. Here’s the page:


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