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Rusk Co., TX tragedy, 1958

Rusk Co., TX tragedy, 1958

Posted: 1044077640000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1124151734000
1/29/2003 These newspaper articles were located by Brenda Yates at the S.F.A. State University Library in Nacogdoches, Texas on the Micro Newspaper Roll No. 101 dated May 1, 1958 thru Aug. 30, 1958. These articles are printed as shown word for word.

The Daily Sentinel Nacogdoches, Texas Monday May 19, 1958
Divorced Mother Admits
She Shot Two Daughters
in Sleep

Henderson, Texas (UPI) - Murder charges were expected today against a divorced mother who admitted shooting two of ther daughters in their sleep because she didn't "want them to go through the same thing as I have."
Rusk County Deputy Sheriff Hardy Swann said Mrs. Thelma Crelie, 34 told him she intended to kill her other daughter, her father and herself Sunday.
But her father, L.C. Johnikin, heard the two shots and ran into the bedroom. He disarmed his daughter and then went out into the yard and emptied the .22 caliber pistol into the air.
Mrs. Crelie, an unemployed nurse, and her daughthers were living with her father 12 miles west of Henderson.
Her victims, Cecilia Ann, 11, and Sandra Lucinda, 10, were sleeping in the same bed. Both were shot once in the head. Her other daughter, Katherine, 6, was unharmed.
Swann said, Mrs. Crelie and her husband, Bill, were divorced nine months ago. He said her husband is living in Kilgore with their son.
"She thought the whole world was down on her," Swann said.
He said she wrote a 34-page letter relating family troubles and her plan to slaughter the household. She put the letter in a Bible found beside the victims' bed.
"I pray to the Lord, that I am doing the right thing," the letter said, "I don't want my kids to go through the same thing as I have."

The Daily Sentinel Nacogdoches, Texas Tuesday June 3, 1958
Mother Indicted for Slaying
Two of Her Three Young

Henderson, Texas (UPI)- A Rusk County grand jury has returned two murder indictments against Mrs. Thelma Crelia in the May 18 shooting of two of her three daughters.
The estranged Mrs. Crelia is alleged to have shot and killed Cecilia Ann, 11, and Sandra Lucinda, 9, in her home.
The longtime practical nurse left a 34-page letter in a Bible. The letter said she "didn't want the girls to have to go through what I went through."
District Attorney H.H. Willborn said Monday, he would ask the death penalty for Mrs. Crelia, whose trial was tentatively set for Aug. 4 by District Judge J.C. Gladney.

The Daily Sentinel Nacogdoches, Texas Tuesday, August 5, 1958

Child Slayer Has Hearing on Sanity

Henderson, Texas (UPI)- A psychiatrist testified yesterday he examined Mrs. Thelma Crelie on June 25 and said in his opinion she was of unsound mind at the time and still is.
His testimony was delivered in the first day of a hearning, into the death of Mrs. Crelie's two small daughters, who was shot as they slept. His testimony backed up Mrs. Crelie's plea of insanity at the time of the shooting.
The girls, aged 9 and 11, were shot to death with a .22 caliber pistol.
The defendant's father, J.M. Johnikin, the first witness yesterday, testified he entered the bedroom as the second shot was fired. He said he took the gun away from Mrs. Crelie.
Mrs. Crelie, of New London, Tex., signed a 30-page confession after the shooting and said, she also had planned to kill a third daughter and her father.

The Daily Sentinel Nacogdoches, Texas Wednesday August 6, 1958

Child Slayer To Be Sent To Hospital

Henderson, Texas (UPI)- An all-male jury took little more than two hours to rule at a sanity hearing Tuesday that Mrs. Thelma Crelie, 34 is insane now, but was sane when she murdered two of her children as they slept.
Mrs. Crelie will be sent to Rusk State Hospital for treatment. When she is again judged sane she will be returned to Henderson to face trial on the double-murder indictment.
She was charged with shooting two of her little daughters, 9 year old Sandra Lincoln and 11-year old Cecelia Ann on May 18.
Mrs. Crelie signed a 30-page confession saying she intended to kill the whole family. During Tuesday's proceedings, Mrs. Crelie shouted at prosecution attorneys, "you kept me from killing myself."
Five doctors testified at the two-day hearing. Three of them ruled her sane and two ruled insane.

We heard she was in the hospital then released. Any other info appreciated.

Grant W. Johnston, Chico, CA

Re: Rusk Co., TX tragedy, 1958

Posted: 1078720760000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Crelia, Johniken
Hi Grant,
Thelma Lurlene Johniken Crelia died in Oct 1986 in or near Rusk, Overton Co., Texas. I don't know if she was still a patient in the state hospital there or not.
She was born 19 Apr 1924 and was raised in Temple, Texas.
She married William Lawrence Crelia, son of Lon and Eula May Daniel Crelia, before 1945. She was the daughter of Levi C. Sr. and Lenora Lucinda Allen Johnikin, and had siblings Levi C. and William Hinkle Johnikin. Her grandfather was B.L. Johniken.
The daughters she murdered are buried at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Rusk County, Texas next to her brother Levi Jr. (1926-1949).
That's all I know for sure - I have lots more on the Crelia family if you need it.

Re: Rusk Co., TX tragedy, 1958

Alane (View posts)
Posted: 1081199426000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1091981022000
Surnames: Johniken, Crelia
Mrs. Crelia spentseveral years in Rusk State Hospital, then went to prison in Huntsville for several years. Cannot remember alldetails, but I took her mother to see her in Rusk and then again in Huntsville.

Thelma Crelia died not too ong after being released from prison.


Re: Rusk Co., TX tragedy, 1958

Posted: 1081200184000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1124151734000
Surnames: JOHNIKEN
Thank you. That was such a tragic happening. She was a distant cousin . Because of that tragedy -- and a few other things -- the JOHNIKEN family is very hard to research.

Grant Johnston

Re: Rusk Co., TX tragedy, 1958

Posted: 1212206089000
Classification: Query
She was my great aunt. My Grandpa was Hinkle Johniken her younger brother. When she got out of the hospital she went and lived with her mother. We used to visit her and granny. I sure miss that old house. After granny died I think old man folwer torn the house down.

Re: Rusk Co., TX tragedy, 1958

Posted: 1289777833000
Classification: Query
brianandkarahall, My name is Dee.I was adopted.Upon the death of my adopted parents,an aunt told me the circumstances behind my adoption.I was born in Rusk TX. in 1959, at the Rusk hospital,while my mother was serving a sentence for murder.My aunt seems to recall my father was a prison guard, and also that I had a sister that supossedly went and lived with "someone", for what reason we don't know.After reading the story on Thelma Crelie,the story seems to fit what I have been told.I could be wrong. Is it possible Thelma Crelie could be my biological mother? Any information on the surviving daughter or pictures I would be forever grateful for. Thanks, Dee

Re: Rusk Co., TX tragedy, 1958

Posted: 1289778951000
Classification: Query
Alane, My name is Dee.I was adopted.After my adoptive parents died,my aunt told me the circumstances behind my adoption.I was born in Rusk Rusk State Hospital in 1959.She said my birth mother was in prison for murder,that my father was a security guard,and that my birth mother had a daughter that went to live with "someone" as she was sent to prison.After reading the article on Thelma Johnikan Crelia it seems to fit what I have been told. Is it possible Thelma Crelia could have been my birth mother. Any information or pictures of Thelma and the surviving daughter I would be forever grateful for. Thanks, Dee

Re: Rusk Co., TX tragedy, 1958

Posted: 1320162825000
Classification: Query
My name is Sandra,I was married to William Lawrence Crelia Jr. the surviving son of Thelma Crelia. William (Bill)was 10 yrs old at the time of the murders. He has since died from a heart-attack. He was married twice having three children with his first wife and three in our marriage. Thelma's other surving child I assume is still alive. The last I knew,Cathy Crelia( possibly Anders) lived in Liberty City and has given birth to only one daughter. I was married to Bill at the time of Thelma's release. Bill never talked about his mother, and Granny Johniken talked very little. I meet Thelma when she came to live with Granny, just a few years prior to her death. She read Danielle Steel books all the time, always had a glass of ice chips, and enjoyed baking when she knew the grandkids were coming to visit. I recall carrying Thelma and Granny to Houston when Cathy gave birth to Stacy. At this point, Cathy may be the only person with any additional information about Thelma.

Re: Rusk Co., TX tragedy, 1958

Posted: 1320270334000
Classification: Query
My name is Stacey and I am the grand-daughter of the Thelma Crelia. My mother would love it, Dee if you could contact me. My e-mail address is Her name is Cathy and she is the daughter of thelma. This is a very painful memory with my mother. So please contact me asap!! She needs closure and this just might be her way to get it. Thanks so much!!
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