Mother Knows Best: The Story of Theresa Jimmie Cross
Theresa's children were all but grown by the time she went into hiding. Howard, 26, wanted nothing more to do with the family and his brother, 24-year-old William, moved in with a girlfriend. Terry, Theresa's namesake, also left her mother. She was only 16 at the time, but by using Sheila's identification she was able to pass herself off as 21. Theresa's only remaining child, 19-year-old Robert Wallace Knorr was the only one who stayed by her side and eventually the two moved to Las Vegas.
Things were going well in the beginning, but on November 7, 1991, Robert made a dreadful mistake. Desperate for money, he walked into Red's Place, a bar on North Nellis Boulevard in Las Vegas, and pulled out a gun. The details remain sketchy, but in the end the bartender, Robert Ward, was left dead at the foot of the bar. Investigators arrested Robert for the murder and he was later sentenced to 16 years in jail. Theresa was nervous about all the attention, and a few weeks later she moved to Salt Lake City, Utah.
In 1992, Terry, who had since married, was watching an episode of America's Most Wanted. While none of the cases related to her or her family, they inspired her to do the right thing and she contacted Nevada authorities. Police sergeant Ron Perea of the Nevada County, California, Sheriff's Office received the call. Terry told him that years earlier, her mother and two brothers killed her sister by dousing her with gasoline and setting her afire. The next year, she told them, they killed her other sister and dumped her body in the mountains. Perea was intrigued by the young woman's unbelievable tale and decided to interview her in person. The following day, Perea met with Terry and interviewed her for several hours. He took his notes to the district attorney's office and a task force was assembled to check out the story. Investigators soon discovered the Jane Doe reports and everything started to fall in place.
On November 4, 1993, investigators filed felony complaints against Theresa and two of her sons. William was found in a Sacramento suburb, where he worked at a warehouse and lived in a peaceful neighborhood. Investigators soon learned of Robert's previous arrest and found him in a Nevada County jail. Neither of the boys was interested in talking with investigators, but both eventually relented and confessed to their involvement in both of their sister's deaths. Five days later, California investigators received a call from Salt Lake City authorities, telling them that Theresa had been traced by a driver's license application. She had also been arrested just five days earlier for drunk driving. Sergeant John Fitzgerald of the Placer County Sheriff's Office flew to Salt Lake and headed for the address listed on Theresa's license application. Just before nightfall, he knocked on the door. Surprisingly, Theresa answered without hesitation and was then arrested. Investigators had acted not a moment too soon. Theresa was aware of the investigation and was in the process of packing her belongings. Back at the police station she refused to cooperate and requested a lawyer.