CHICO (CBS13) – It’s a killer’s confession in a twisted love triangle. One man kept a secret buried for years, but his prison letters to the victim’s sister reveal the whole sordid story.

She’s got an admission of her own. She says she understands why her ex-boyfriend snapped and killed her sister.

Chenoa Hays is not only speaking out for her sister, Vanessa Hobbs, she’s also speaking out for her sister’s killer. She says she doesn’t hate him, but before you judge her, she says listen first to her explanation.

“She finds them having sex, you know, has to pull them apart,” said Chenoa.

In prison letters from her sister’s killer, Steve Knoefler, from the small town of Rackerby, he explains why he did it.

It’s not easy for her to read, but Chenoa says now she knows why.

“Steve hears all this noise and comes out and finds them,” she said.

Steve writes that he finds them, “My son and her…making love…they were both drunk…she laughed in my face and said, ‘…call (the cops)…you’ll go to jail and me and your son will continue doing what we want.’”

“He was 13, 14,” said Chenoa.

Steve and Vanessa were having an affair that lasted a year until that night. Steve says Vanessa continued to taunt him and threatened to molest his youngest son.

“That’s when Steve snapped. He picked up the barbell and she went to block herself and the barbell went straight through her arm into her head,” said Hays. “So then they decide to put her in the freezer and they leave her there for a month, then they come back down and Steve digs the hole and then puts her in it and covers it up.”

Steve kept the secret for years, but what makes this even harder for Chenoa is that she can’t believe he would keep it from her.

“She set us up on a blind date,” said Chenoa.

She’d been with Steve first; an emotional relationship, she says. His kids even call Chenoa mom to this day. But then she found out he’d been sleeping with her sister, who Chenoa says was into drugs and alcohol.

“I knew that Steve was going to lose everything, and that’s what I told him. ‘You’re going to end up in jail; you’re going to lose everything,’” said Hays.

What she didn’t predict was that she’d lose everything as well.

“I can understand if somebody had said ‘I’m going to hurt your daughter; they’re toast.’ I can understand that. I can’t understand the three years of lying about it,” said Chenoa.

Chenoa says she’s no longer speaking to Steve because she says she has nothing more to say to him.

She says she visited Steve and his kids at his Rackerby property, not knowing her sister was buried in the yard.

Steve is serving a life sentence after he pleaded no contest in June.


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