Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Mother Knows Best: The Story of Theresa Jimmie Cross

Moving On

Howard as a baby
Howard as a baby

After earning her acquittal, Theresa regained custody of her son Howard and moved in with family friends. She was four months pregnant. Her marriage to Clifford may not have been happy, but at least it provided her with a sense of belonging. Now, at just 18, she was alone and again desperately seeking stability. To cope, Theresa turned to alcohol and began drowning her sorrows at a local American Legion Hall. It was there that she met Estelle Lee Thornsberry, an Army veteran who had suffered a debilitating blow two years earlier when a swimming accident left him a quadriplegic. Nonetheless, Thornsberry's disability didn't seem to bother Theresa and the two began dating.

On March 13, 1965, Theresa gave birth to Sheila Gay Sanders. Even though the child was not his, Thornsberry doted on her and treated her as his own. Deeply in love with Theresa, he suggested they all move in together and live as a family. Theresa agreed and a few weeks later they rented out a small apartment. In the beginning, Thornsberry enjoyed the living arraignments, but his feelings began to change when Theresa started treating him as a babysitter, rather than a love interest. With the relationship already rocky, things came to an end a few months later when Thornsberry discovered Theresa was cheating on him with his best friend. Following a heated argument, Theresa packed her belongings, along with most of Thornsberry's, and moved in with friends.

Shortly after her break up with Estelle Thornsberry, Theresa set her sights on Robert Knorr, a private in the Marine Corps. The two began dating and within a few months Theresa was pregnant and they began discussing marriage. In February 1966, Knorr was shipped off to Vietnam. Shortly after his arrival, Knorr was on patrol when a stray bullet struck him in the shoulder. The injury was not serious, but frightening just the same. After a brief stay in a field hospital, he was back on his feet and patrolling the jungle again. But, just weeks later, Knorr was again shot. This time the bullet hit him in the side, but barely penetrated the skin, earning him another brief stay in the hospital. His luck was running out though. A few months later, while walking across a bridge in the middle of nowhere, it suddenly blew up. Shrapnel from the explosion ripped through his arms and legs and the explosion threw him back to the ground. Luckily for Knorr, there would be no more close calls. His latest injuries earned him a trip stateside and he spent several months recovering at Oakland Naval Hospital.

By June 1966, Theresa was seven months pregnant and eager to settle down with Knorr. On July 9, 1966, the young couple drove to Nevada and exchanged vows in front of a local judge. It was Robert's first marriage and Theresa's second. Both were eager to settle into their new roles and rented a small apartment in Sacramento. Two months later, on September 27, 1966, Theresa gave birth to her third child, a girl. Theresa named the child Suesan Marline Knorr. Less than three months later, Theresa was pregnant again and on September 15, 1967, she bore Robert his first son, William Robert Knorr. A second son, Theresa's fifth child, was born on December 31, 1968. Keeping her older half-brother in mind, Theresa named the boy Robert Wallace Knorr.

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