The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Where in the world is Peter Knoeller?
I have few unresolved issues in my life. I don't like going through life with any regrets. When I get to the end of the line, I don't want to leave this earth thinking that I've left anything undone. But I may have to, and that concerns the whereabouts of my first husband, Peter Knoeller.

Peter was my first real love. It was one of those "you and me against the world, Romeo and Juliet" kinds of romances. The harder life got, the harder we tried.

But, it turned out that Peter had mental health issues. Except that I didn't know he did. I just thought he'd had a rough childhood, although his older sister K. and younger brother T. didn't seem to have the same issues that Peter had. Maybe it was because Peter was the middle child - sometimes forgotten - who lived with his mother, while the other two kids lived with their father. I know that he desperately wanted his father's love. Peter's younger brother was his father's favorite son, and his father didn't seem to be aware of how he hurt Peter by giving T. things that Peter had always wanted, like a mini van with a custom paint design and a bar installed in the back. We used to call them "party vans" back then.

Peter and I were married for about four years. We had children together - one right after another. For most of our marriage, we moved from place to place. First to Orlando, where my oldest son was born. We bummed around Europe for several months. Then we were off to Denver, then to Las Vegas, where he began an affair with a married woman, who promised him, of all things, a party van.

Peter left me for the married woman who promised him the party van. How could I compete with that? She was at least 12 years older than he was, with a good job. On the other hand, I was a drug-free practical woman who worked every day at raising kids and trying to be a good wife. I'm not sure what happend to our Romeo and Juliet relationship. I saw my marriage, my health, and my husband deteriorate.

She left her husband. Peter left me, and they got married. The whole thing took just a couple of months. He jumped right from our relationship, to this new one with its promise of party vans, pot, and booze. Their marriage lasted less than a year. He was given the van in the divorce settlement. It was all that he asked for.

After that, he disappeared. He had always talked about going back to the Phillippines, where he'd been stationed when he was in the Navy. Twenty years later, his family was still looking for him. I hired a private detective to try to help me find him. His sons were struggling with the usual issues of teenagerhood. They felt abandoned by their father for the whole of their lives - the same way that Peter had felt abandoned by his father. I had my mother run a check on his social security number - in case he had a credit history. He came up a total blank. The PI located his sister, who was teaching at a college in Florida. I wrote to her to give her an update on Peter's sons. I never heard back. I think he must be dead to them, if not literally, at least, figuratively.

I can only surmise that Peter is dead or has been living in another country with a new identity. He was suffering a mental health crisis and confessed to me that he thought he was going crazy. He insisted "I want a divorce, or I'm going to kill you." I thought it was a threat at the time. Now I know he was trying to protect me. Years after he disappeared, my mother had a chance meeting with Peter's mother. Not even his own mother knew where he was.

I would like to know why Peter did to his sons what his father did to him, when he knew first hand the grief being abandoned caused. I want closure - not for me, but for his sons. But I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not going to get my wish. And maybe I don't really want to get it. Maybe sometimes there is just too much water under the bridge and too many gaps to close, to expect a good result.

(Photo is of Peter with our son Andy, in 1979, who ironically also suffers from mental illness and who has also cut off contact with family.)
posted by Melanie O. at 8:10 PM -
  • At 5:10 AM, Blogger Kanani said…

    Oh, this is so sad.
    I think it's a question your sons can only find closure to but accepting that he was mentally ill, and that most likely he's dead.

    I think as painful is the total cut off they had from that side of the family. Certainly, they must know how lucky they were to have yours, who offered consistency and kept with the promise of always being there for them.

  • At 12:54 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Thank you, Kanani. I've often had nightmares about what happened to Peter. While this episode was painful, it also held some of the happiest times of my life. I think that's what it's like when you live with someone who's mentally ill. Life's a constant roller coaster ride.

  • At 7:28 PM, Blogger Gallimaufry said…

    Reading your post is heart-breaking. *Hugs* Proud of you for being so strong and wonderful despite the odds.

  • At 12:40 PM, Blogger Kanani said…

    I was thinking about you today. I went to a local NAMI meeting today. It was filled with people with sons who were 45, 50 and who'd been through the jail, street, violence scenario. They're all older and such founts of wisdom and understanding. It was good to be amongst them.

    Anyway, there's a really fun blog you'd love written by a woman named Empress Bee. She's real smart (a retired CPA) and she and her husband like to go on cruises. She has a son who has had problems but is in a good run right now. You might want to check it out. Muffin 53.

  • At 2:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Peter was living in the Phillipines for several years. He is believed to have passed away approximately two years ago. He remained estranged from his family for most of the last 25 years. I am not sure when you last spoke with K, but she is still in Palm beach with T, and their father.

  • At 8:05 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Thank you, Anonymous. That does make me sad, but it's not really unexpected. I haven't stayed in contact with his family, as they didn't seem really interested. I think it's just a painful episode for everyone. We all deal with it in a different way, I suppose.

    Thanks, again, very much. I'll have to talk to my sons about this.

  • At 12:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 10:32 AM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Hi Christine - I will contact you shortly, after I have an opportunity to share this information with my sons. Thank you again.

  • At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am not sure what you plan to tell your sons, but although we believe Peter to be dead, his mother is still awaiting a death certificate. Because of his track record of dishonesty, for me to have closure on the issue of his death, I need to see the certificate or some official documentation. Around the time he was believed to have died, his "wife" called K and their mother to request $10,000 to get his remians back to the U.S. I found that a bit suspect, especially since he is a former member of the military. She hasn't called since and we don't have proof of anything, but were told by her that he died of kidney failure or something like that. Again, no one really knows what to believe. I am not sure if this helps or just confuses things even more. Initially, I didn't want to go into this on a blog because I didn't know if it was appropriate. However, since you are going to talk to your children about the likely death of their father, I thought you should have a more complete picture of what we know.

  • At 1:37 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Peter is dead - his death is recorded at and apparently is filed with the state of NY. Date of death was 15 August 2006. Thanks for checking back - and knowing Peter, I can certainly understand your doubt.

  • At 1:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you so much for that information! I had never seen that website before and that is definitely his name and social security number. I spoke with my brother, Dave - Peter's oldest child, and he is also interested in hearing about your sons, seeing pictures, etc. Would you check with them and see if they are interested?

  • At 9:20 AM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Hi Christine - I wondered if that was you! I met you when you were a little baby. I'm sure your half brothers would like to say hello and will pass your email address on to them. I will email you shortly.

  • At 3:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hello~ I am K. I never received your inquiry, but I have information for you. How can we connect?

  • At 5:29 AM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Hi K! Wow - I am so pleased to see you here! I'm sorry you didn't get my email and photo - that's so strange. Christine has my email address - I'll let her know it's OK to give it to you if you are able to contact her? Looking forward to catching up!!!

  • At 6:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey Melanie~

    I just sent Christine an e-mail requesting your e-mail so we can communicate privately...

    Is there a way we can personally connect?

    ~~ k

  • At 9:29 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Hi K - I have some ideas! Please email me and let's chat. I would love to catch up - and of course, if you ever want to take a trip to Australia.... :)

  • At 11:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey~ I just e-mailed you. I forget how many hours we are apart. Talk with you soon. ~~ k

  • At 2:31 AM, Anonymous luz said…

    Hi! I'm one of Peter's Knoeller one of the wives living now in Germany. I thought many times ,is something wrong with me or with him, I was so confuse and did not know what is right or wrong, until I could not stand eny more how I was treated and pusch me to leave him before he kill me, I left him without my son Peter jr. and went to look for a beter life.I have two children from him. It is very painful and Iam still living with it. call me luz

  • At 12:25 PM, Anonymous TwiliteZone said…

    This is reminiscent of the tune "Twilight Zone" by Golden Earring. Or maybe Rush.
    Melanie, my name is Dave, and I'm the oldest of Peter's known children. I'm interested in getting to know my family. After speaking with the eldest of my sisters, we are both willing to maintain contact via email. We both have profiles on (mine is at, Christine's is available as a link from mine). I also have a profile at ( My email address is available through either profile, although you have to be a member of facebook to request any sort of info.
    I must admit I am also writing this to any of Peter's children and former wives who wish to initiate or maintain contact with the rest of us who are now "in the loop." After speaking to my Aunt today, we have agreed to maintain contact regarding this matter, and for my part, I acknowledge the unique role that I have as being a sort of focal point for my siblings who are looking for information/relationships. I maintain a pretty busy schedule, but promise to do my part to be a facilitator of relevant information. My mom has also wisely suggested that any information concerning family medical issues (especially beneficial for those of us with young or newborn children) be discreetly exchanged via email.

  • At 12:28 PM, Anonymous TwiliteZone said…

    Here are the actual links to those profiles. Myspace, and facebook

  • At 6:59 PM, Blogger Melanie O. said…

    Thanks so much, David. I will definitely be in contact soon.

    Take care.

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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