Why Teen Sabrina Zunich Viciously Stabbed Her Foster Mother 178 Times

Why Teen Sabrina Zunich Viciously Stabbed Her Foster Mother 178 Times

In the early morning hours of November 16, 2012, Willoughby Hills Police officers respond to a domestic homicide in progress. The 911 caller is the victim's daughter and, screaming in sheer terror, tells the dispatcher that her foster sister, Sabrina Zunich, keeps stabbing her foster mother with a kitchen knife. Once in custody, the killer teenager shares a dark secret about one of the family members and reveals the real motive behind her vicious murder.

Sabrina Zunich (left) and Lisa Knofel (right).
Sabrina Zunich (left) and Lisa Knofel (right).

Everyone inside the home of 2518 Chagrin Dr. was peacefully asleep on the early morning of Friday, November 16, 2012.

That is until the horrific screams of Lisa Knoefel began.

At 1:15am is when the Willoughby Hills Police Dispatch receives a 911 call from the daughter, Megan. The girl is frantic and screaming in the receiver that her foster sister, Sabrina Zunich, has been repeatedly stabbing her mother.

"Oh, my god! Please Stop!"

"She's killing my mom!"

The 911 call is terrifying to listen to, even for devoted true crime lovers.

"Showered In Blood" - Patrolman Randy Mullenax

Police officer Randy Mullenax is the first to arrive on the scene and the frantic Megan instantly greeted him, still clutching on to the phone.

Mullenax draws his weapon and orders Sabrina Zunich to drop the bloody knife and lie on the ground.

She complies.

Officer Mullenax told Dateline that Sabrina "looked like she literally showered in blood."

The blood covering Zunich from head to toe was Lisa Knoefel. Sabrina had stabbed her at least 178 times with a "fifteen-inch (nine-inch blade) convex, serrated knife."

Knife used by Sabrina Zunich to stab her stepmother to death. Photo Dateline
Knife used by Sabrina Zunich to stab her stepmother to death. Photo Dateline[/caption]

The officer also reported that the Knoefel’s 3-year-old daughter Haley had been "cowering in the bedroom closet" hearing each scream of her mother as her killer thrusted the murder weapon deeper into her body.

There was nothing he could do for Lisa. Mullenax testified, "The female was laying motionless; there was nothing I could do... [she] was deceased."

Fostered Wild

Lisa Knoefel worked as a social worker in the sex abuse department of the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services.

According to her friend Carol Beese, "When she had foster children, she treated them like her own," she told Snapped Behind Bars. "She made sure went the extra mile to be a good parent."

One co-worker remembers Knoefel as being "incredibly compassionate." and excelled at her work where she dealt with "a lot of incest cases."

Lisa was the perfect person for Sabrina Zunich, 16-years-old at the time and on 9 different medications.

Sabrina was born on October 27th, 1994 to a 35-year-old Mark Zunich and his 40-year-old girlfriend Susan Edwards.

The parents of Sabrina shared a passion for one thing in life. Drugs.

Neither parent cared for their "offspring" and focused more on scamming welfare departments and stealing to reach their next high.

Sabrina's father was especially desperate for drugs and made the little money he had dealing hard core narcotics to teenagers.

"Mark was always drunk," one neighbor recalled, "and the police were over there a lot."

The drugged out father was also a paranoid schizophrenic who refused to take his medications. He died of an overdose months before his daughter viciously stabbed her foster mother.

Sabrina Zunich entered the Knoefel's home while on 9 different medications and suffering from ADHD, ODD (oppositional defiance disorder), bi-polar disorder, anxiety, and depression.

No one had ever cared for Sabrina. No one until Lisa Knoefel.



Worth more dead than alive (Clevescene 11 Sept. 2013)

‘I was not mentally there’, woman who murdered foster mom at foster dad’s request says in prison interview (Oxygen 14. Feb. 2021)

State v. Knoefel