(Theresa Knorr, mother, torturer, murderer)
One of the cases which can accurately describe the evil and degeneration that a mother can carry within her soul is the case of Theresa Knorr, who literally tortured her children, forced them to be prostitutes, and then brutally killed two of them.
Theresa had three daughters, Sheila, Suesan, and Terry. There were also two sons in the family but the sons were treated much better because Theresa was jealous of her daughters. Suesan received much of the abuse and was forced to eat massive amounts of lard. If she threw up, she was then made to eat her own vomit. The children were forced to beat each other and to hold one another down for beatings.
(Sheila Cross age 15)
At the age of twenty, Theresa forced Sheila into prostitution in order to pay the bills. Although Sheila was horrified at the idea, she did what she was told. She also found that prostituting herself allowed her to come and go as she pleased. Her beatings also ceased as long as she was providing the income by selling her body.
This shows how much control a parent has over their child. Sheila could have told authorities at any time what was happening in the home -or at the very least- she could have run from the family. She instead obeyed her mother and suffered the life of a prostitute. Sheila was twenty years-old. If Sheila could not bring herself to tell anyone about the abuse, then how can society be surprised when a small child does not tell anyone they are being molested or raped by their parent?
In time, Sheila contracted a venereal disease and her mother proclaimed that Sheila might give it to her through the family toilet. Terry, the youngest child, was subsequently told to handcuff Sheila to the leg of the kitchen table at night so she could not use the bathroom.
Sheila was beaten, hog tied, and was made to live in a small closet where she lived out her final days without water or food. She eventually died inside the closet and her mother had the oldest son put the body in a box and dispose of it. This shows the lengths that siblings will go to in order to keep the family secrets and to obey the parent.
Suesan, the second oldest daughter, was also made to prostitute for family income but Suesan continued to receive beatings and other abuses at the hands of her mother. One day, in the house of horrors, Suesan was shot by her mother in the chest and Suesan fell into the bathtub. She lay there with the bullet lodged in her back, and without any mercy, her mother then handcuffed her to the soap dish. Theresa Cross “nursed” her daughter back to “health” by keeping her chained to the tub and administering treatment while Suesan lay in agony day after day.
Somehow Theresa found the decency to prop her daughter up with pillows during her ‘recovery’ in the bathtub. Amazingly, Suesan managed to survive and her mother put her right back to work on the streets as soon as she was well. Suesan finally decided that she had enough and promised not to tell anyone about the abuse if she could just move out. Her mother said Suesan would allow her to leave, but only if the bullet could be removed from her back (to remove the evidence).
(Robert Knorr mugshot)
In order to gain her freedom from her living nightmare, Suesan agreed. Her mother gave her Whiskey and drugs to anesthetize her and forced one of her sons to perform the procedure. With a small knife, the bullet was removed. Suesan was then handcuffed to the leg of the kitchen table where she was given diapers to wear and left to either live or die.
A week later, Suesan became demented and developed jaundice. This caused her mother to think that the yellowing of her skin was the sign of a demon and that her soul needed to be “purged by fire.” Suesan was then bound, gagged, and thrown into the trunk of the family car. Theresa and her two sons took Suesan into a deserted area and set her on fire; she was burned alive by her own brothers.
(William Knorr mugshot)
The youngest daughter, Terry, figured she would be the next to die so she gathered all of her strength and confronted her mother. She said she wanted her freedom and surprisingly her mother offered it to her, but only if she would burn down the family home (once again, in order to get rid of the evidence). Terry did what she was told, and despite her mother holding a knife to her throat and trying to back out of the deal, Terry stayed strong and she was free to leave her mother.
(Terry Knorr, after her mother was arrested)
Theresa was charged with torture and for the murder of her two daughters. She plead guilty and was given two consecutive life sentences. One of the brothers was given three years in a state prison. The other was placed on probation for his role in the murders.
This case sounds like fiction but it is true. It is an extremely disturbing case of child abuse, torture, and murder. Of course it is not commonly found in families, but this kind of family exists. No one knows what horror goes on behind closed doors and what kind of evil sits at the dinner table. A recent case in the news shows that this kind of abuse continues to happen:
Sources: Notorious Murders/Death in the Family, Mother Knows Best: The Story of Theresa Jimmie Cross, Unforeseen Discovery, by David Lohr, Court TV’s Crime Library
Cold Case Files, Arts and Entertainment Channel, July 11, 2004