Theora Jones Fennelly was born February 14, 1961, in Huntsville, Alabama to Samuel and Rebecca Jones. Samuel was an Army Sergeant Major, and Rebecca worked as a finance clerk at Redstone Arsenal. Theora grew up as an only child with two loving parents.
In high school, Theora was on the cheerleading squad, a good student with lots of friends. Her father was gone a lot because of his job, so much of her time was spent with her mother. Rebecca was the driving force when it came to Theora's cheerleading practice. Theora became highly skilled and helped her team to win many competitions. As a high school senior she earned a cheerleading scholarship to the University of Alabama.
Early in her senior year, Theora met a young soldier by the name of Ryan Jacobs, and they had an immediate attraction. They began dating despite the Sergeant Major's disapproval. When Ryan received orders and left for Germany, Theora was heartbroken. He promised he would come back for her and they'd be married. She wrote to him every day, but his letters were few.
During a routine check-up with her doctor, she received the shocking news she was pregnant. She couldn't wait to tell Ryan, but before she could, Theora received a heartbreaking letter from him saying he was in love with another girl. While she was still reeling from the breakup, her parents were killed in a horrific car accident returning from a well-earned Florida vacation. Theora's world was crumbling from all sides.
During her parents' funeral, she confided in her aunt and uncle, telling them all about Ryan and the baby. They offered her a place to live, and without her parents and Ryan, there was nothing left for her in Alabama. Her inheritance ensured Theora would be able to take care of herself for a long time, so she gave up her scholarship and moved to Oxford. She never told Ryan about the baby.
Three years after Lauren was born, Theora felt it was time to become more independent and decided to buy a house of her own. She went to Fennelly Real Estate for help and was impressed with the owner, Robert Fennelly. 26-year-old Robert became infatuated with Theora and asked her out. After only four months of dating, he proposed, and they were married on February 14, 1982. Robert accepted Lauren as part of the package but wasn't thrilled with being a stepfather.
They bought a beautiful old Victorian house and completely remodeled it. Robert felt strongly that Theora's place was in the home, which suited Theora just fine. Early in their marriage, Robert gave Theora everything she wanted but never got close to Lauren. He barely noticed her, and it seemed to Theora that Lauren was always in his way. He usually came home late and never seemed to care that Lauren was in bed when he arrived.
Over time, Robert became controlling. He forbade Theora to leave the house unless he knew where she was going and when she'd be back. Eventually, the beautiful old house she loved became her prison. Things got worse when Robert started coming home drunk. Theora was embarrassed to go out of the house because her neighbors would see the bruises and always made excuses for her aunt and uncle not to visit. She was miserable, but her love for Robert made her stay.
When Lauren was seven, Robert came home plastered and started a huge fight. Robert threatened to kill Theora and chased her up the stairs. As Robert lunged for her throat, he slipped and tumbled from the top of the stairs. He died of a broken neck at the age of 30. Rumors were rampant that Theora finally did him in by causing his fall, but the police ruled it an accident.
Raising Lauren on her own was tough for Theora, but she did her best to teach Lauren right from wrong. When Lauren's husband abandoned her, Theora was there to help with Katy. Theora became Katy's best friend and taught Katy everything she knew about cheerleading.
Theora lives alone in her old Victorian home. Robert left her financially stable, and she never remarried.