1st ex-husband sorry that Chambers Co. man 'had to die' to arrest woman who was married 5 times

Sarah Hartsfield is jailed on a $5 million bond as she's accused of killing her fifth husband, Joseph Hartsfield.

Miya Shay Image
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Woman accused of killing husband married 5 times, prosecutors say
Sarah Hartsfield, who is accused of causing her husband's death, has been married five times, documents show. One of those husbands spoke to ABC13.

CHAMBERS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- When the mugshot of Sarah Hartsfield, who's accused of killing her fifth husband, flashed across his computer screen this week, Titus Knoernschild felt shocked and relieved.

"I am glad she has finally been caught for who she is," Knoernschild said, speaking to ABC13 via Zoom from his north Texas home. "I'm just sorry another person had to die to get her caught."

The Sarah Hartsfield charged with murder in Chambers County is the Sarah Smith Knoernschild whom Titus met in high school when both were growing up in Missouri.

Sarah and Titus were high school sweethearts, marrying when they were just teenagers.

"It was rocky," Knoernschild recalled.

By 1995, at the age of 20, they were going through a divorce, and it was ugly.

"She just- Just making it clear that I shouldn't leave her. She would leave me. And then, as it got ugly, she told me that, not to be surprised if I don't make it through this," he said.

According to Knoernschild, Sarah cheated on him by dating his best friend, who became husband number two. A few years later, he says she cheated on her second husband with another man, who became husband number three. All of her first three husbands, Knoernschild says, were in the Army, as was Sarah.

Now, Sarah Hartsfield remains behind bars on a $5 million bond, charged with killing Joseph Hartsfield, husband number five.

"We do know her marriages are all short-lived," Chambers County District Attorney Cheryl Lieck-Henry, who's prosecuting the case, said. "We're asking the public for any information they have about her, even if it's mitigating information. We're putting a puzzle together and we need all the pieces."

So far, the puzzle pieces paint a disturbing image.

Knoerschild said somewhere between husband number three and four, Sarah was engaged to a man in Minnesota. Public records show that man was shot and killed in 2018. Prosecutors at that time ruled the shooting self-defense and did not charge Sarah.

After her fourth husband, Sarah would reemerge in Chambers County. She married Joseph Hartsfield and moved into a house in Beach City less than a year ago. Neighbors told ABC13 that they rarely saw the couple, unless Joseph was mowing the yard or walking the dogs.

Knoernschild says over the past 27 years, he and his family have always looked over their shoulder, wondering when Sarah would show back up. He detailed several incidents where she actually did turn up to allegedly harass him, even while he was married to other people.

"In 2008, I came back from Germany, was stationed at Fort Hood. And out of the blue, she showed up to my office, wanted to talk and get back together. And then after we got done talking, I had to go to a meeting. She knew this and called my wife, and said, 'Hey, I was just with your husband.' So, I went through my command and had a no-contact order against her to get her to leave us alone," Knoernschild said.

Looking at the charges now, Knoernschild said he's grateful that there is a $5 million bond on his ex and feels terrible for the family of Joseph Hartsfield.

"I was honestly surprised to get out of my marriage alive. Because I was in the Army, I had a $200,000 life insurance on myself at the time. I was very concerned I would end up dead so she could get the money," Knoernschild said.

Hartsfield was appointed an attorney Tuesday afternoon. So far, she has not been arraigned. The Chambers County Sheriff's Office is interested in talking to anyone around the country who may have information.

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SEE MORE: Chambers County woman given $5M bond after she's charged in husband's murder

Sarah Jean Hartsfield, a Chambers County woman accused of killing her husband Joseph, is in jail on a $5 million bond. We're following that story and more in our top stories above.