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Thriller Thursday: True Crime TV

Because I’m going to be inundating you with posts about INTO THE DARK’s blog tour, my Thriller Thursday posts are going to be short and sweet for a while. For the next few weeks, I’m stealing Catie Rhodes‘ idea of talking about my favorite true crime television shows. This week’s victim is A&E’s Cold Case Files.

This is probably the first true crime show I ever watched, and it sucked me in from the beginning. Hosted by Bill Kurtis, Cold Case Files tackles any case deemed cold, some dating back as far as forty years. It’s interesting to think about how differently an old case might have been handled were it to occur today.

The best thing about the show is that the cases chosen are ones finally solved. Most of the time, a case has been dormant for months if not years until a determined detective or officer gets wind of it and looks at the situation with fresh eyes. Sometimes it takes decades, but dogged determination and advancement in forensic science have resulted in hundreds of solved cases.

Episode Highlights:

The Answer In The Box

On July 25, 1986 eleven-year-old Alison Parrott disappeared from her Toronto, Canado home. A male caller had convinced her he would be taking pictures of Allison and her track and field teammates. She was to meet the photographer at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium. The man had also called a week earlier with the same request, and Alison was able to get her mother’s permission to meet him. She told the family housekeeper her plans, and then left her home. Source

She was found two nights later in Kings Mill Park on the Humber River. Alison had been raped and strangled.


The case went cold for 10 years until Francis Carl Roy was arrested in 1996. A runner with a known interest in photography, Roy had a criminal record that included assault and rape. When Alison was murdered, he’d been on parole after serving just 18 months of an eleven year sentence for the rapes of two teenaged girls. DNA evidence linked him conclusively to Alison.

He was convicted of first-degree murdered and sentenced to life without the chance of parole for 25 years.

Mommy’s Rules–the Murder of Suesan and Sheila Knorr

Theresa Knorr physically and verbally abused all her children but daughters Suesan and Sheila were targeted the most. Jealousy over their youth and beauty, and the crazed notion the two girls were witches who had forced Theresa to gain weight were used as her motivation to torture them. Source

Theresa burned her kids with cigarettes and beat them, and she trained her sons to beat and discipline her daughters.


In 1983, Knorr shot Suesan in the chest. The bullet lodged in the girls back, but her mother refused to seek medical help. She left Suesan to die in the bathtub, but when she survived, Theresa started nursing her back to health.

A year later, Suesan asked to move out. Theresa agreed on the condition she could remove the bullet still lodged in the girl’s back. On the dirty kitchen floor with alcohol as an anesthetic, Theresa had her son Robert removed the bullet with a box cutter. Suesan quickly became infected and slipped into a coma–on the kitchen floor. She was left there to die, and Theresa instructed the other children to walk over her, telling them her illness was a result of possession by the devil. She convinced her sons Robert and Bill to take Suesan and burn her alive.


Next, Theresa forced daughter Sheila into prostitution, and then accused her own daughter of giving her an STD. Sheila was locked in a closet and starved to death. Her body was packed into a cardboard box and dumped.

Daughter Terry managed to escape and then spent years trying to get law enforcement to listen to her. No one believed her until in 1993, she finally convinced someone to listen.


Finally, in November 1993, Theresa and her sons are arrested after an appearance on America’s Most Wanted. She was charged with two counts of murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, as well as multiple murder and murder by torture. When Theresa found out her sons were set to testify against her, she pled guilty to avoid the death penalty. She was sentenced to two life sentences and will be eligible for parole in 2027.

These are just two of the dozes of harrowing and complicated cases A&E’s Cold Case Files have covered. For a full list, visit the show’s official site.

What do you think about these cases? Should Theresa have a shot at parole? How much should her sons be held accountable? And is the system to blame for Allison Parrott’s murder?

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12 comments on… “Thriller Thursday: True Crime TV”

  1. Doesn’t Canada have life WITHOUT parole? It puzzles me that they give any parole in these cases.

    • I think they do, but I don’t know as much about Canada’s system as I do ours. But it doesn’t make sense, that’s for sure. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I have never watched this. Or, if i have watched it, I have watched it so few times that I have forgotten about it. I am going to check out a few episodes. Thanks for profiling it for us.

    • Oh, you’d love it. There are a ton of great stories on Cold Case Files. My favorites are the ones that are really old and seem to have no hope of being solved. Thanks!

  3. I’ve never seen this either, Stacy. It definitely sounds intriguing! My favorite true crime show is probably Dateline’s mystery series.

    Best of luck with your blog tour and all-things book release!

  4. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Cold Case Files. I’ve seen so many, I don’t know if I have a “favorite.” I’ve actually written Cold Case on A&E once, back when I was in college. I wanted them to investigate a case that is still “cold” in my home town. I never heard any sort of response; it was very disappointing.

    Anyway, I also love to watch 48-Hours Mystery, Snapped, Forensic Files, Murder by the Book, etc. I am fascinated with true crime.

    • Yay! I used to watch it religiously and wish I had more time. That does suck you didn’t get a response – I’m sure they get a ton of requests, but still. I love all the ones you listed, too!

  5. I love this show too! I find it very satisfying when they solve a case that had previously gone cold. (As for the small shift to talking about true crime shows, I have to say I really like that as well. It’s a fun break from the norm.)

  6. How on earth can that mother be up for parole in 2027? I know many who would disagree, but I am a proponent of the death penalty in select cases where the murder is especially heinous and guilt is absolutely known. IMO, this woman should have been executed. Plus, you failed to mention her torture of naming a child “Suesan,” thus requiring her daughter to needlessly spell her name over and over. (Sorry, just my editor head and attempt to lighten the heavy-heartedness here.)

    I don’t personally want to watch these shows, but I am glad they are out there to demonstrate that police do care about solving crimes and some families do get closure even after many years.

    • I have no idea. But remember, Charles Manson has been up for parole (recently, in fact) and has no chance in hell of getting out. I’d like to think the same about her. I feel the same. I try to be pious and say eye for an eye isn’t right, but I feel that way quite a bit.

      I kept thinking I screwed up the Suesan. What a terrible spelling.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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