Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Mother Knows Best: The Story of Theresa Jimmie Cross

Bartering Freedoms

Suesan Knorr
Suesan Knorr

In 1982, Theresa got the wild notion that Suesan was putting spells on her, forcing her to gain weight. Suesan denied the allegations, but her protests fell upon deaf ears and Theresa flew into a violent rage. Before any of the other children knew what was happening, they heard a single shot ring out. Suesan began gasping and fell to the floor. Blood poured out of her chest and she was writhing in pain. Theresa had shot her own daughter with the .22-caliber pistol she had once used to threaten Terry.

After a brief pause, Theresa ordered the other children to carry their injured sister to the bathroom and place her in the tub. Theresa did not want the police involved, so an ambulance was out of the question. The bullet had not passed through Suesan's body, but it was too deep to remove from the open wound. Theresa decided to leave it in and patched her daughter up with gauze and bandages. For the next month, Suesan's sisters looked after her. Terry and Sheila took turns feeding and bathing her and eventually Suesan recovered enough to rejoin the family.

In November 1983, Theresa and her children moved into an apartment in north Sacramento. Things were back to normal for a while, but then in July 1984, Theresa got into a heated argument with Suesan and stabbed her daughter in the back with a pair of scissors. The injuries were not life threatening, but serious nonetheless. Suesan was getting tired of the daily abuse and a few weeks later she asked for permission to move out. Surprisingly, Theresa agreed. But there was one stipulation: Theresa wanted to remove the bullet that remained lodged in her daughter's back. Suesan reluctantly agreed and a few days later the surgery began.

Theresa started the operation by giving her daughter a handful of Mellaril capsules and a quart of hard liquor. The concoction worked and before long Suesan was completely unconscious. Theresa then retrieved an X-Acto knife from the medicine cabinet and ordered 15-year-old Robert to cut into his sister's back and retrieve the bullet. Theresa barked orders from overhead as he made the incision. Before long, he had cut through several layers of skin and muscle tissue. Using his fingers, Robert searched around inside the wound until he finally located and removed the bullet.

The next day Suesan woke up in horrible pain. Theresa gave her antibiotics and ibuprofen, but the medicines didn't seem to have an effect and she kept getting worse. After a few days, her eyes turned yellow and she could no longer control her bowels. At one point, Terry noticed black marks on Suesan's back, which she later concluded were from internal bleeding, a result of Theresa's last beating.

On July 16, 1984, Theresa duct taped Suesan's mouth shut and bound her arms and legs. Afterwards she packed all of the girl's belongings into trash bags and ordered Bill and Robert to put Suesan in the car. They drove south on Highway 89, and eventually pulled off the road by Square Creek Bridge. Bill and Robert were then ordered to take Suesan out of the car and carry her down to the creek bank. Theresa brought down the garbage bags herself and then doused everything, including Suesan, in gasoline and struck a match. Everyone made their way back to the car and no one looked back. Things around the Knorr house remained quiet and sullen during the weeks following Suesan's death, but eventually everything went back to normal.

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