Theresa Knorr is an infamous American woman convicted of torturing and killing two of her six children while using the others to facilitate and cover up her crimes.
While millions of people out there gained fame for their various positive achievements, Theresa Knorr only came to public notice for her grisly crimes which climaxed in murdering her own daughters! Although Theresa is already behind bars, and will remain there for the rest of her life, her crimes are so stomach-churning that humanity can never let them go off memory. Read through to learn all the facts you never knew about Theresa Knorr and her crime-decorated lifetime.
Summary of Theresa Knorr’s Biography
- Full name: Theresa Jimmie Francine Knorr (née Cross)
- Nickname: Theresa Knorr
- Gender: Female
- Date of birth: March 14, 1946
- Place of Birth: Sacramento, California
- Theresa Knorr’s Age: 77 Years Old
- Ethnicity: White
- Nationality: American
- Zodiac Sign: Pisces
- Sexual Orientation: Straight
- Marital Status: Divorced
- Theresa Knorr’s Husband: Clifford Clyde Sanders (m. 1962; died 1964), Robert Knorr (m. 1966; div. 1970), Ronald Pulliam (m. 1971; div. 1972)
Chet Harris, (m. 1976; div. 1976)
- Theresa Knorr’s Children: Howard Knorr (né Sanders; born 1963) Sheila Knorr, Suesan Knorr, William Knorr (born 1967), Robert Knorr, Jr. (born 1968), Theresa “Terry” Knorr-Walker (1970–2011)
- Theresa Knorr’s Parents: Swannie Gay (née Myers) and James “Jim” Cross
- Siblings: 3
10 Facts You Need To Know About Theresa Knorr and Her Life of Crimes
1. Her woes started from childhood
Theresa Knorr’s childhood was not a very pleasant one and may have contributed to the kind of personality she grew up to become. She was born as Theresa Jimmie Francine Cross on March 14, 1946. Theresa lost her mother, Swannie Cross at 15 to a heart attack. This plunged her into severe depression due to her very close affinity with her mom. Her father, James “Jim” Cross who had earlier developed Parkinson’s disease and depression would constantly vent his frustration on Theresa and her elder sister and only sibling, Rosemary. He also sold their family home having lost his job as a result of his ill-health.
2. Theresa Knorr married four times; her first marriage was at 16
The very poor financial situation at Theresa’s home forced her into an early marriage. She married Clifford Clyde Sanders the year following her mother’s death, precisely on the 29th of September, 1962 at the very young age of 16. She also dropped out of high school as she became pregnant soon after her marriage. Theresa’s marriage with Sanders, however, lasted for just two years as the latter died of a gunshot wound in 1964.
Theresa subsequently married Robert Knorr, a U.S. Marine Corps officer on 9th July 1966, some months after he got her pregnant. The duo however divorced in 1972 as a result of Theresa’s incessant infidelity accusations. In 1973, Theresa married Ronald Pulliam, a railway worker.
The pair also parted ways the next year due to Theresa’s constant all-night partying and drinking habit as well as extramarital affairs. Theresa Knorr’s last and shortest-lived marriage was to Chester Harris, a Sacramento Union editor. They tied the knot in August 1976 and divorced in November 1976.
3. She committed her first murder at 18
Theresa Knorr was actually the one who killed her first husband, Clifford Sanders. The ugly incident took place on July 6, 1964, the day following Sanders’ 23rd birthday. The fact that Sanders partied out with a friend on his birthday annoyed Theresa, sparking off a heated argument between the edgy couple. The altercation led to Sanders saying he will leave Knorr.
The latter shot him on the back with a rifle while he was leaving the door. She wouldn’t let him leave to have another woman! Surprisingly, the court acquitted Theresa Knorr of Clifford Sanders’ murder in September of the same year following her claims of self-defense, and probably because she was pregnant.
4. She was a heavy alcoholic
Theresa Knorr began drinking heavily as well as spending reasonable time at bars in 1965, following her first husband’s death and the birth of her second child. Her alcoholism thenceforth continued to skyrocket until the time she ended behind bars.
5. She Extremely abused her children
From two out of her four marriages, Theresa Knorr had six kids – three daughters and three sons, namely: Howard Clyde Sanders (born 1963), Sheila Gay Sanders (1965–1985), Suesan Marlene Knorr (1966–1984), William Knorr (born 1967), Robert Knorr, Jr (born 1968), Theresa “Terry” Knorr (1970–2011). The evil mom lived with them in Orangevale, California. They, however, later moved to a two-bedroom apartment in Sacramento, with Howard leaving the house before the move.
All of Theresa’s remaining five children suffered harrowing abuse throughout the period they were under their mother’s custody. She beat, handcuffed, locked up, starved, shot and forced her kids to commit all sorts of atrocities at random. She also withdrew them from school as well as disconnected the telephones in their apartment, completely shutting them out from the outside world. Theresa moreover, never provided her children with any form of medical care, even in cases of severe injury or ill health. She also forced her two grown-up daughters into prostitution to fund the family expenses while she remained indoors doing no work.
6. Theresa burned her first daughter alive!
Although she abused all her children, Theresa mostly targeted her paranoia at her first two daughters – Sheila and Suesan. This was chiefly because, they were growing into beautiful adults while she, on the other hand, was growing old and losing her luster.
Theresa however, first got rid of her second daughter, Suesan in the most bizarre manner. Among the numerous incredible accusations she heaped upon Suesan was that her last husband, Chester turned her into a witch and that she is using her witchcraft to make her gain weight. She, therefore, made Suesan go through grueling torture which included forced prostitution, a gunshot, and sessions of starvation and imprisonment.
When Suesan could no longer bear the horrific sufferings, she decided to pack out of the house, with Theresa insisting she must have the bullet lodged at her back removed before leaving. Left with no option, Suesan agreed. Her mother then forced her brother, Robert to use a knife to cut her back open and remove the bullet. After this, Suesan became infected with sepsis. Instead of providing Suesan with medical treatment, Theresa rather left her manacled under their kitchen table without food and water. As Suesan’s condition continued to deteriorate, Theresa decided to get rid of her. She then carried Suesan tied up and lip-sealed to a lone place around Squaw Valley where she set her ablaze alongside her belongings. That was on the 16th of July, 1984.
7. She left her first daughter to rot in a closet
After getting rid of Suesan, Theresa Knorr began to vent her frustrations on her first daughter, Sheila. Just the way she did with Suesan, Theresa forced Sheila to earn money for the family through prostitution. She, however, soon accused Sheilah of becoming pregnant as well as catching an STI which she (Theresa) said she has contracted from their home toilet seat.
To punish Sheila, Theresa tied beat her up and locked her up in an unventilated 16×24 closet. She also stopped all her siblings from coming to her aid in any form or manner. After calling for help for some days to no avail, Sheila died on the 21st of June, 1985. Despite the complete silence that followed Sheila’s death, Theresa never bordered to check on her daughter until after three days when her body began to stink. She then forced William and Robert to dispose of her remains in a carton.
8. Theresa Knorr’s heinous crimes were passed for fiction!
Following Sheila’s disturbing death, William and Terry severed ties with their mother, with the later making several failed attempts to bring her to book. Terry first reported her sister’s murders to the police in Utah, but they will not believe her. She also visited a therapist who took her story as incredible.
In 1993 however, she once again lodged her complaint at the Placer County Police station, on the advice of America’s Most Wanted TV series producers whom she had earlier contacted on the issue. Since it was around that area that the bodies of her two sisters were found years back, the police believed her report and followed up with intense investigations.
Terry, unfortunately, died in 2011.
9. Knorr covered her crimes for 10 long years!
Theresa has a way of getting away with her crimes. However, she never went away with her last two murders forever, the way she did with her first. In other to clear off every evidence of killing Sheila, Theresa had attempted to burn down their apartment at night; but neighbors were able to stop the fire before it fulfilled her purpose.
She, however, succeeded in relocating to Las Vegas where she remained in hiding with her younger son, Robert. Seriously running short of cash, Robert made a robbery attempt at a local bar during which he shot dead the bar attendant, earning himself a sixteen-year jail term. Following this, Theresa fled to Salt Lake City in Utah. There, she used her maiden name to work as a domestic caregiver for her landlord’s aged mother.
However, following the Placer County Police investigations, Theresa’s son, William Knorr was arrested on 4th November 1993. The police subsequently arrested her on 15th November 1993. Despite all the shreds of evidence for her offenses, the desperately hardened Theresa Knorr would not plead guilty. She only did so when she heard that Robert was about witnessing against her, a development that will earn her a death penalty. To spare herself the capital punishment, Knorr owned up to her crimes.
10. She will be eligible for parole at 80!
Following the court’s verdict in on October 17, 1985, Theresa Knorr, earned two consecutive natural life sentences at the California Institution for Women in Chino. Based on the provisions of her sentence, she will receive parole after serving for 42 years. That will be in 2027. Will she still be alive by then? Time will tell!