Becoming famous for a crime is not a novel concept neither is it unheard of as many people have become known because of the crimes they have committed and for how gruesome and inhumane the crimes are. The fact remains that you can become famous for being a criminal and Theresa Knorr is one of such people who were catapulted from the life of obscurity to having their pictures on the front pages of newspapers. In Knorr’s case, it is for the murder of two of her children in the 80’s and the abuse of her other four kids.
5 Key Facts About Theresa Knorr
1. Child Abuse
None of her four children were exempt from the abuse she meted out to them, which was carried out emotionally, physically, psychologically and verbally. She insulted them, beat them mercilessly, and gave severe punishments that included not having food to eat and the burning of cigarette on their skins.
2. Horror Film Spinoff
Because of the horror of her crimes, the account of her abuse of her children and the eventual death of her first two daughters served as fodder for the horror movie; The Afflicted.
3. Prostituting Daughters
One of the many ways Theresa Knorr abused her children was by prostituting her first two daughters, Suesan and Sheila who were underage at the time they were being prostituted. Knorr was a recipient of state welfare as she had no job and so she made some more money from the sex trade she forced her daughters into.
Theresa Knorr killed her daughters – Suesan and Sheila – from a place of jealousy because she felt they were becoming more beautiful than her. For Suesan, who she accused of witchcraft, she tied her in a trash bag and set her on fire while she starved Sheila to death.
5. Prison Sentence
As a result of her crimes Theresa Knorr was sentenced to life in prison, the sentence is two life sentences on the counts of murder, conspiracy to murder and murder by torture. The sentence was passed in October 1993 and as of 2019, she is still alive in prison. Her first eligibility for parole would be in 2027.
Spouse and Children
Theresa Knorr (nee Cross) who was born on the 14th of March in 1946 grew up in California; her childhood was spent with her family that included her mother father and elder sister. At the age of sixteen she stopped her education in high school and decided to get married to a man called Clifford Clyde Sanders in 1962, the exact date of their wedding was the 29th of September.
Clyde was her first husband with whom she had her first two children, the first child was a boy, Howard who was born on the 16th of July in 1963, the following year after their marriage. As their marriage progressed it was discovered by Clyde that Theresa was a possessive woman, who refused to trust her husband and constantly accused him of cheating on her.
These accusations always resulted in a big fight and two years after they got married, Theresa killed Clyde. Her weapon of choice was a shotgun which she fired at his back while he walked away from an argument after telling her he was leaving the marriage.
During the court proceedings of the murder, people testified to the kind nature of Clyde which was negating the testimony of Knorr who insisted she fired in self-defense; one of such people was Knorr’s elder sister. The case ended on the 22nd of September with the acquittal of Knorr and she gave birth to her second child on the 16th of March in the following year.
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Theresa Knorr next marriage was to Estelle Lee Thornsberry. Their marriage was fraught with problems that included Knorr cheating on him. The marriage ended in less than a year and by 1966 she was married again; this time to a man called Robert Knorr. Their marriage produced four children, the first of which was Suesan followed by William Robert, then Robert Wallace and then finally Theresa Marie.
The couple also divorced, a divorce that occurred in 1972 because of Theresa’s distrust in her husband. She made it impossible for him to see any of their four children.
She married two more men after her marriage to Robert ended. The first of the two was Ronald Pullman, whom she married in 1973, a year after her second divorce. The same problems that riddled the marriage she had with Estelle Lee Thornsberry was what ended this marriage as well. Her final attempt at marriage was with a copy editor of the Sacramento Union, Chester Harris, they got married in August of 1976 and by November of the same year, they were divorced.