Darlie Routier appeared to have it all. She lived in Rowlett, Texas with her husband Darin and her three boys; Devon who was 6, Damon who was 5 and Drake who was 7 months old.
The family lived in an affluent neighbourhood in a large home. Darin ran his own technology business and made good money, enough to give Darlie and the children a more than comfortable life. Damon and Devon were lovable and fun loving kids, and Darlie doted on them.
June 6th 1996.
It had been a normal evening at home for the family. Since having Drake, Darlie had been having trouble sleeping so on this particular night she had decided to sleep downstairs with Damon and Devon, who had taken their blankets and pillows into the living area of the house in order to watch films together and sleep over. Darin stayed upstairs where he could keep an eye on the baby.
At around 2.30am, a call was made from the home to the emergency services. A frantic Darlie was on the line asking for assistance. She was beside herself and in between cries, she relayed to the emergency operator that an intruder had broken into their home and attacked her and her boys. She was screaming that her children were dead and dying and that she had also been stabbed. The man, Darlie said, had escaped through the utility room and the garage where she had found the knife and picked it up. The call handler urged Darlie to remain calm and attend to her sons, and that the police and paramedics would be with her as soon as possible. The commotion had woken Darin up and he was also attending the boys, attempting CPR on Devon who had been so brutally stabbed that the floor beneath where he was lying had also been penetrated by the knife. It was clear to Darin that Devon was dead by this point. Paramedics arrived, and started attending to Damon and Darlie. Damon was rushed to hospital by ambulance but passed away en route. Darlie had been beaten and stabbed in the neck, she was losing vast amounts of blood and was too rushed to the hospital for emergency, life saving surgery. The wound she sustained to her neck was so severe that the necklace she had been wearing ended up embedded in her skin, but had also protected her against massive blood loss and inevitable death. After surgery she made a fast recovery and was released.
The murder investigation.
The Rowlett police department now had a double homicide and an attempted homicide on their hands. This was only to be the second multiple murder that the department had investigated in its entire history. With this in mind, a retired detective from the Dallas sheriffs department was drafted in to help assist with the investigation. His name was James Cron. Crime scene investigation was already underway, with multiple investigators and inspectors going in and out of the house, causing possible contamination to the scene. This only proved how inexperienced the force was with a crime of such magnitude.
Darlie had stated that she had been woken in the early hours by her son Damon’s crying. She told police that she had witnessed a tall white male, running towards the garage of the home. She gave chase to the suspect and was attacked with a large kitchen knife. Darlie accounted that she ran into the homes utility room where she found and picked up the knife. The attacker had escaped after allegedly stabbing the two boys to death and attacking her. Nothing in the house had been taken and all of Darlie’s expensive jewellery was still sitting on the kitchen counter where she had left it after taking it off before she went to sleep.
Having been provided with this information, Detective Cron inspected the crime scene himself. Upon visiting the home, he noted some unusual factors that he didn’t believe tied in with Darlie’s account of the events of the evening. As well as no valuables been taken during the home invasion, Detective Cron noticed that there was no apparent blood marks in the utility room where Darlie had apparently picked up the knife from. There were however marks left by the knife in other rooms of the house. He also noted that the knife used was part of a set that belonged to the family and that it held fibres from the screen in the garage in which the assailant had apparently entered through.
Detective Cron concluded that the crime scene appeared to have been staged, and that the police needed to focus on those who were inside the home at the time of the attack. He believed there was never an intruder and that Darlie may have fabricated the story in order to cover up what had really happened.
Suspicions were beginning to mount against Darlie. The police, with the help of James Cron were closing in on her. During this period of time, the family were to mark the occasion of Devon’s 7th birthday. Little did they know that the events that took place at his graveside would end up being the final nail in the coffin of suspicion for Darlie Routier.
“The silly string video”
Just a week after the murders, the family gathered at the gravesite with balloons, toys and cards in order to celebrate what would have been Devon’s 7th birthday. A news team was invited to film the “party” and it was this report and interview (youtube) that would cast doubt over Darlie’s story. Here, she appeared happy and relaxed, spraying silly string on the graves and singing happy birthday to her late son. The family defended their actions and simply stated that they were celebrating because the children wouldn’t want them to be sad. Despite this, the gathering was looked upon in bad taste and in the following days, Darlie and Darin were called in for more interviews regarding the murders. Only Darin Routier walked out of the station that evening, his wife was now in custody and being charged with the double homicide of her two children.
According to the Rowlett police, Darlie’s account of what happened on that fateful evening wasn’t accurate. They believed that the evidence presented at the crime scene didn’t match what she was telling them during her interviews. Forensic evidence found at the scene was inconsistent with her side of the story, including the blood spatter patterns that were presented at the scene. They didn’t match with the version of events that Darlie had presented to the police. For example, Darlie told the police that she had been attacked with the kitchen knife before giving chase to the assailant, however they believed that the majority of recorded blood spatter belonging to her was actually confined to one spot in the utility room rather than spread across various rooms. They believed that this was indication that she had been standing still when the injuries were afflicted, and therefore came to the conclusion that Darlie had inflicted the injuries upon herself in order to appear as a victim.
After studying the crime scene, law enforcement also believed that certain areas of the home had been “staged”. James Cron stated that upon inspection, there was broken glass scattered neatly over blood stains. So, rather than being mixed in with the blood as per a “normal” crime scene, the glass appeared placed on top of it. Along with this, the fact that absolutely nothing, including the knife used in the attack and all of Darlie’s expensive jewellery hadn’t been taken was ringing alarm bells for the police.
It wasn’t only the physical evidence that was playing a part in Darlie’s charges. Upon further investigation, it was alleged that the family were experiencing financial issues meaning that Darlie wasn’t able to have the lifestyle she was accustomed to. It was also said that the family had recently opened up new life insurance accounts for the children. It was also alleged that the Routier’s marriage was experiencing troubles, with rumours circulating about mutual affairs and public rows.
Upon trial, the prosecution presented the “Silly String” video heavily as evidence of Darlie’s guilt. According to them, Darlie was a materialistic and shallow mother who resented her children because looking after them interfered with the carefree, relaxed way of life she had become accustomed to. She was painted as careless and artificial with only her best interests at heart. She had fabricated the story of the intruder and had murdered her children in cold blood in order to get her old life back.
Her defence team on the other hand, informed the jury that Darlie was a loving and doting young mother, and that her behaviour at the grave side was that of someone who had suffered an immensely traumatic ordeal. Character witnesses also described a dedicated and caring Darlie, who would do anything for her family and wouldn’t dream of bringing any harm to her beautiful boys. They also argued that the silly string video was cleverly used in order to make Darlie look heartless when in fact, she had also held a sombre service of remembrance for the boys prior to spraying the silly string and singing. They also protested that the injuries Darlie suffered were so close to killing her that she couldn’t have inflicted them on herself.
Despite her lawyers advice against doing so, Darlie also took to the stand during her trial. She protested her innocence and relayed to the jury the events of the evening that lead to her being on trial for murder. Prosecutor Greg Davies didn’t suffer fools and tore into Darlie immensely, reducing her to an inconsolable shadow of the woman who just minutes before had stood up and vehemently defended herself.
When the jury retired to confer, it took them only 4 hours to reach a verdict. They announced that they had found Darlie Lynn Routier guilty of the first degree murder of Damon. She only stood trial for the one murder because under Texas law, if found guilty she would be eligible for the death penalty, which is exactly what prosecutor Greg Davies wanted.
Three days after the conclusion of the trial, Darlie was back in court for sentencing where she was told that she was going to receive the death penalty. She would spend her remaining years on death row in Texas before being given a lethal injection to end her life.
Darlie Routier is still on death row, and still protests her innocence. She has a huge support network with campaigns and websites working tirelessly to get her a retrial. Darin has since divorced Darlie, but still remains supportive and believes in her innocence. Her third and surviving son Drake was taken in by Darin’s parents and is now in his early twenties, only ever knowing his mother as being incarcerated and only having contact with her through a glass divide. It still remains to be seen as to whether Darlie will get her new day in court, as new evidence has allegedly been found. For the time being though, Darlie Routier spends her days on the death row wing in Gatesville, Texas.