Theresa Jimmie Francine Knorr is an American woman who was convicted for torturing and murdering 2 of her 6 children while using the others to facilitate and cover up her crimes. She’s currently serving 2 consecutive life sentences at the California Institution for Women in Chino, California. Take a look below for 25 more interesting and terrifying facts about Theresa Knorr.
1. She was born in Sacramento, California, United States. She was the younger of two daughters of Swannie Gay and James Cross.
2. Her mother, Swannie, had a son and daughter from a previous marriage. Her father, Jim, worked as an assistant cheese maker at a local dairy.
3. In the late 1950s, her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which forced him to quit his job. He developed depression and took his frustrations and anger out on his family, while Swannie kept the family afloat financially.
4. There was very close to her mother and was devastated when she died of congestive heart failure in March, 1961.
5. On September 29, 1962, 16 year old Theresa married Clifford Clyde Sanders, who was 5 years older than her. Soon after, she dropped out of high school and gave birth to their first child, Howard Clyde Sanders.
6. During an argument on July 6, 1964, Sanders told Theresa that he was leaving her. Theresa then shot Sanders in the back with a rifle as he was walking out of the house.
7. Theresa was arrested and charged with Sanders’ murder, but she claimed she was not guilty and that she was acting in self defense. During her trial, she was pregnant and continued to profess her innocence. On September 22, 1964, she was acquitted and then gave birth to Sheila Gay Sanders on March 16, 1965.
8. Eventually, Theresa met and began dating a United States Marine private named Robert Knorr. They got married on July 9, 1966 and she soon became pregnant.
9. Her third child, Suesan Marline Knorr, was born on September 27, 1966. The couple had three more kids, William Robert Knorr, Robert Wallace Knorr, Jr., and Theresa Marie “Terry” Knorr.
10. After her marriage to Robert failed, she married Ronald Pulliam in 1971. However, that marriage failed by 1972, which led Theresa to Chester Harris, who was the copy editor for the Sacramento Union.
11. Theresa married Chester on August, 1976. However, she divorced him because Charles enjoyed taking consensual nude pictures of women.
12. Knorr was extremely abusive to her children, both physically, verbally and psychologically. Her alcoholism eventually escalated her abusive behavior.
13. She would often torture her kids by beating them, force feeding them, burning them with cigarettes, and throwing knives at them. She would make them hold each other down while she beat and tortured them.
14. She focused much of her anger and abuse on Terry’s older sisters, Suesan and Sheila, due largely because the two were maturing and blossoming into attractive young women while Theresa was getting older and losing her looks.
15. Knorr also believed that her 4th husband, Chet Harris, had turned Suesan into a which, which is why she got the worst beatings.
16. Suesan once ran away and told authorities that her mother abused her. However, the authorities believed that she wasn’t in any immediate danger and released her back to Theresa. Theresa beat Suesan while wearing a pair of leather gloves.
17. She would also force the other children to take turns beating Suesan. Eventually, she handcuffed Suesan to her bend and ordered her other children to watch over her. She also forced her to drop out of school.
18. In 1982, Theresa was convinced the Suesan was casting spells on her to gain weight. Because of this, she shot her daughter in the chest with a .22 caliber pistol. Suesan survived. In 1984, Theresa lost it again on Suesan and stabbed her with a pair of scissors and Suesan again survived. Eventually, Suesan decided to move to Alaska and Theresa agreed with the condition that she remove the bullet lodged in her back so Suesan had no evidence against her.
19. When she failed to remove the bullet and the botched home surgery began to get infected, she drugged Suesan and had her 2 sons reluctantly tie Suesan and put her in a garbage bag. Theresa drove her to Squaw Valley where she doused her daughter and lit her on fire.
20. When Suesan died, she focused her abuse and anger towards Sheila. She forced her daughter into prostitution before eventually tying her up in the closet and letting her die from starvation and dehydration.
21. After finding that Sheila had died in the closet, Theresa forced her youngest daughter, Terry, to burn the apartment to destroy any physical evidence.
22. After escaping from her mother, Terry attempted to report her sisters’ murders to the Utah police but they dismissed her stories as made up as did the therapist she visited.
23. On October 28, 1993, Terry contacted America’s Most Wanted and told them her story. They took her claims seriously and began following up with an investigation.
24. On November 15, 1993, Theresa was charged with two counts of murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, one count of multiple murders and one count of murder by torture.
25. The 2010 horror movie The Afflicted is loosely based on the Theresa Knorr case. However, unlike the real case, the movie ends with the youngest daughter killing her mother and one of her brothers before committing suicide.