Born in 1954, McKnight was a career navy man stationed at Northern California's Alameda Naval Air Station since 1982. He lived off-base with wife and child, making friends easily among his neighbors. Tenants of McKnight's apartment complex knew him as "one of the most outgoing people" in the building. To a man, they would be stunned by evidence connecting him with seven counts of homicide in 1985. McKnight's small world collapsed on January 24, 1986, when he was picked up by police at home, booked on two counts of rape and four counts of attempted murder in a series of attacks dating from the previous September. In custody, he was identified by five victims, including three prostitutes, who had been variously beaten, raped, and stabbed in attacks committed on September 16, October 31, December 27 (two assaults), and January 21, 1986. Two days after his arrest, McKnight was named by lawmen as a suspect in seven "identical" rape slayings around the Oakland area, with evidence conforming to the pattern of attacks where victims had survived.