Family of young woman killed 27 years ago by rogue CHP officer upset by reports of police wrongdoing

Knotts want better way to weed out 'bad' officers

SAN DIEGO - It has been more than 27 years since the murder of Cara Knott, who was thrown off the Mercy Road bridge below Interstate 15. Today, her family is reliving the nightmare once again.

Cara was an attractive San Diego State University co-ed. She was directed off the freeway onto a dark, desolate off-ramp by then-California Highway Patrol Officer Craig Peyer. 

It was a pattern for him that was escalating, but this young woman resisted his advances. He struck her and strangled her that foggy December night in 1986. Peyer is serving a life prison sentence at the California Men's Colony at San Luis Obispo.

Now, the arrest of San Diego police Officer Christopher Hays after sexual assault accusations comes simultaneously to renewed attention on fired SDPD officer Anthony Arevalos, who was convicted two years ago of similar crimes.

"I'm so outraged," said Cynthia Knott, Cara's sister. "It's egregious to think this could happen in this day and age. It makes me relive my sister Cara's murder all over again."

Cynthia said she and her mother were sickened and disgusted by the recent news events and cannot believe this is happening.

Joyce Knott wrote to 10News:

"I just don't want our family to appear that we are against the police. We have the utmost respect for the department and the majority of the officers. It just seems that after all these years there should be a better way to identify the bad ones. Thank goodness times have changed and at least some of the women who are harassed or taken advantage of do come forward and report these incidents. When there is a pattern of behavior of controlling women through sexual advances, there is the chance that the actions may escalate and another person's life might be in danger. I want to encourage any woman who finds herself in such a situation to speak up and report it. By doing so, she may save the life of another innocent young woman. It would have saved Cara's."

Feb. 11 would have been Cara's 48th birthday. 

"Breaks my heart, breaks my mom's heart and my dad would be absolutely outraged and all over the news," said Cynthia.

Sam Knott became a crusader for greater oversight of officers on patrol. He created a memorial park near where his daughter died off Scripps Poway Parkway.

Years later, he died at almost the same location after pulling weeds and collecting discarded trash in the oak garden. 

It is dedicated to Cara, to Sam and others as well as to all crime victims who still suffer in silence.

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