Sunday, June 7, 2009

Whatever Mother Says by Wensley Clarkson

To neighbors, she was the brave single mother... Raising her five kids alone in a rundown section of Sacramento, Theresa Cross Knorr seemed like the ultimate survivor. But her youngest daughter, 16-year-old Terry, told police another story: one almost too terrible to believe. But accused of imprisoning her children in a house of horrors... According to Terry, Theresa,no longer the petite brunette she once was,had turned insanely jealous of her pretty eldest daughters and enlisted the help of her two teenaged sons in a vicious campaign against their sisters. Of beating, torturing and killing her own flesh and blood... Terry's gruesome tale told how Theresa had drugged, handcuffed and shot 16-year-old Suesan, allowing her wounds to fester, until the day she ordered her sons to burn their sister alive. Next, Terry said Theresa severely beat 20-year-old Sheila and then locked her in a stifling broom closet, so that when the girl finally starved to death, her brothers dumped her body in the same desolate mountain range where they had cremated Suesan. She could be one of the most evil murderesses of our time... It took Terry five agonizing years to convince authorities to investigate her grisly accounts of burning flesh, starvation and torture...of a mother from hell, so sadistic and so deranged, she had become her children's own executioner.

First off,I wholeheartedly recommend reading this book.Despite the extremely disturbing content which includes the torture of these girls,it is well written with no bias or trend towards sensationalism.In the foreward by the author Wensley Clarkson he himself expresses disbelief and horror at this crime.He wrote this book with very visible compassion towards the victims and I believe he did the story full justice.

I watched the tv program on this true crime story on the C&I network after I read the book and the program did not include all the information that I got from this book.I was definitely more able to formulate my own opinions based on the book rather than if I had only watched the tv program.

I really appreciated the chapters dedicated to explaining the mind of the mother Theresa Cross Knorr.With input from various psychologists on crimes of this kind and the mind set of the criminal,the information provided is extremely insightful.

I was shocked at how long the one daughter Terry had to try to get authorities to believe the crimes that had happened and to eventually investigate.With this investigation other crimes were revealed which even the daughter Terry had not known about.This was a one woman crime spree which spanned many many years,involving many victims,and yet she very nearly got away with it all.I wonder how many people out there are still fancy free who should actually be in jail.

If you would like to know more about this book then South African readers can access via Kalahari Books and for more reviews then the Amazon link below should sort that out
Whatever Mother Says...: A True Story of a Mother, Madness and Murder (St. Martin's True Crime Library)

I read this book in April 2007 and it has 8 pages of photographs some of which are of this mad mother and her two sons who helped her kill their own sisters.

Here are some more book details:

Country: United States of America
Format: Mass market paperback
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 9780312955427
Publication date: March 1995
Pages: 288

My Question:
Do you think that the two sons who helped her carry out the murders should have been convicted as well?Considering that many women have used the defence of spousal abuse to explain why they helped their partners kill people,should these two boys not also have been granted this choice of using child abuse as an effective defence strategy?


  1. It would be interesting to know what the psychologists had to say about her. I suspect there are a lot of people walking around free who should be in jail.

  2. She was completely mad.She also had a terrible childhood.I genuinely believe that child abuse has consequences which reach several generations down the line.I am waiting for the book Bright Red Scream by Marilee Strong which discusses that very subject.I agree with you I really wish all true crime writers would include a chapter where a psychologist/psychiatrist gives their opinion on the criminal with some kind of answers on hows and whys.

  3. I read this book, I was shocked and horrified by what this mother could do to her own children.I can't believe how long it took for someone to believe Terry story. I am just so glad that they finally caught up with that nasty women that they call a mother.I did not like the ending of this book it did not tell you enough of what happened to the mother. I myself was abused as a child I am grown women with children of my own and I do not beat them or call them names. I tell my children how much I love them and how great they are. I just think people use the abuse theory way to much. I had a awful childhood but I did not grow up to kill or hurt the people I love.

  4. I am so glad you stopped by and I want you to know how proud I am of you that you survived your childhood and became a good mother despite this trauma.Unfortunately there are not many people like you who are strong enough to not allow the abuse to carry on.I hope that you do come back and read this.I am honored that you visited this blog and left a comment.Thank you so much!! Your children are very very lucky.

  5. The sons should have been given the same, exact punishment and the mother didn't even get what she should have....if only the punishment could have been shoot her, let her live, then burn her hands and feet, then starve her almost to death, bring her back, starve her again, cut a hunk of meat from her body and let it infect, put diapers on her for weeks, then burn her ALIVE! WHAT A BEAST...SHE IS THE SHE SATAN! And so are her sons for helping her to carry out her deeds when I'm sure they could have moved away and not let her know where they went. They are as guilty and like satan as she was! I hope & pray that the sons don't have any offspring...God forbid!!


Custom Search

My True Crime Library

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog