Real Name: Darlie Lynn Routier
Date: June 6, 1996
Location: Rowlett, Texas
Details: Darlie and Darin Routier were married and had three children. After the birth of her third child, she began to suffer from post-partum depression. However, the Routiers' life seemed perfect otherwise. On the night of June 6, 1996, Darlie slept on the sofa in her family room while her two sons, Devon and Damon, slept on the floor near her. Darin and her infant son Drake were asleep upstairs when she allegedly woke to find a person right above her. She screamed for her husband, and the assailant fled the house and dropped his knife on the way out.
Darlie realized that she and her older sons had been attacked and she called 911. Darin immediately noticed Devon and Damon were badly stabbed, so he began CPR on them as Darlie stood by. By time paramedics arrived, Devon was dead; Damon died en route to the hospital. Darlie was also treated for cuts that included an almost-fatal gash on her throat near a major artery. She survived her wounds.
Darlie was interviewed by detectives shortly after surgery. According to Darlie and her family, she was considered a suspect from the very beginning. Detectives claimed that they were suspicious of several aspects of her story and the intruder theory:
- Darlie had somehow slept through her attack and the murders of her sons.
- She was unable to give a clear description of her assailant, despite coming face-to-face with him.
- Police did not find evidence at the crime scene that supported an intruder.
- The alleged entryway for the intruder was an open window in the garage that had its screen slashed. However, there was an undisturbed layer of dust on the sill, suggesting that no one had actually came through it.
- A long bleached-blond hair was found in the cut screen. Darlie had this color hair at the time.
- Nothing was missing from the home, which ruled out robbery as a motive.
- There was a lack of a blood trail leading outside of the garage.
- The alleged intruder did not leave any blood or footprints at the scene.
- A tube sock with Devon and Damons' blood on it was found in an alleyway near the home. Police believed that it was planted there by Darlie as an attempt to stage the scene.
A week-and-a-half after the murders, Darlie was interrogated by a detective reportedly known for extracting confessions. She allegedly stated: "If I did it, I don't remember." However, the detective did not record the statement. Darlie's family claims that she never made the statement. Darlie was arrested and charged with capital murder. She was also put on suicide watch.
Attorneys hired to defend Darlie challenged the accusations. According to them, evidence used to secure the arrest warrant was flawed. According to Lloyd Harrell, a private investigator for the defense, the blond hair found in the window screen was determined to belong to a Rowlett police officer. He also noted that the window sill was low to the ground, making it unlikely for an intruder to disturb the dust.
Darlie's trial was moved to Kirk County, a conservative in South-Central Texas, with a high rate of conviction in death penalty cases. Her trial began on January 6, 1997. The prosecution opened its case by presenting the state's theory of the crime. According to the state, Darlie was a greedy, selfish, and vain woman whose extravagant lifestyle was threatened by the responsibility of motherhood. Prosecutors claimed that if Devon and Damon were dead, she could collect on their life insurance policies.
The D.A. argued that Darlie, still suffering from post-partum depression, murdered the boys, slit her own throat, and then tried to make it appear that an intruder committed the crime. A medical examiner testified that her wounds were superficial and self-inflicted. However, the defense introduced medical reports that stated that her neck wound came within 1/16 of an inch of severing her carotid artery and killing her. Hospital photographs also showed extreme bruising on her arms.
Her attorneys also pointed out that Darin was insured for $800,000 and her boys only $10,000. According to her mother, it took $13,000 to bury them. The prosecution countered with a blood spatter expert, who focused on a small amount of blood on the back of Darlie's shirt. It contained both boys' blood. According to the expert, this was cast-off blood, which would occur as she stabbed them. As she brought the knife back, the blood would drip off and land on the back of her shirt. However, Darlie's mother claimed that this occurred because the police contaminated the evidence in their collection process.
The prosecution then brought up a controversial piece of evidence. Eight days after the murders, the Routiers celebrated Devon's seventh birthday posthumously at his grave-site. Darlie had just been released from the hospital and was on painkillers, antibiotics, and anti-depressants. A news crew captured her smiling and spraying silly string on his grave as part of a birthday celebration. Darlie claims it was a celebration of his birthday and was not cold gesture against her son.
During deliberations, the jury viewed the "silly string video" eight times. It took them only ten hours to convict Darlie of capital murder. Her family and supporters claim that crucial evidence was overlooked during the investigation:
- Her family claims that the photographs of Darlie's wounds were not properly presented to the jury. After the trial, juror Charles Samford got to look more closely at the pictures. He felt that the wounds were not self-inflicted.
- Her defenders also point to the tube sock found seventy-five yards from the Routier home. The sock contains the boys' blood along with skin DNA from Darlie. However, none of her blood stains were found on it. Her supporters believe that someone else left the sock there.
- According to her supporters, Darlie would have been unable to kill the boys and stage the scene in the small timeframe. Medical testimony established that Damon, who didn't die until paramedics arrived, could not have lived for more than nine minutes after receiving the fatal wound. Darlie was talking to a 911 operator for five minutes and forty seconds of those nine minutes. The police secured the scene for an additional two minutes before paramedics arrived. According to her supporters, that would leave her a minute and a half to place the sock in the alley, stage a crime scene, and cut her own throat.
- According to her supporters, there were two unidentified fingerprints found at the scene. One was on the door leading to the garage and another was on the credenza behind the couch.
- Numerous violent rapes in the area occurred around the same time. In some cases, the assailant entered the unlocked homes of victims, accosted them with knives found in the kitchen, and used tube socks over their hands to avoid leaving fingerprints.
Routier was sentenced to death row on February 1st, 1997. She now sits on death row in prison; many of her supporters still have a hard time accepting her as the murderer of her sons. Juror Charles Samford now believes that he convicted an innocent woman. Unless significant new evidence is discovered that persuades the police or prosecution's evidence, it is very likely she might be executed for the murders of her two sons.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the August 24, 2001 episode. It has also been featured on Court TV, The New Detectives and Forensic Files.
Results: Unresolved. In the "Forensic Files" episode about the case, several pieces of evidence were mentioned. The murder weapon was determined to have come from a knife block in the kitchen. Darlie claimed that she chased the intruder through the kitchen and he knocked a wine glass off of a rack. However, pieces of glass were found on top of blood droplets. Also, there were no cuts on her feet.
Underneath an overturned vacuum cleaner was more blood spatter and a wheel impression, suggesting that it was knocked over after she had ran by it. Darlie's blood was on the handle and it dripped at an eighty degree angle, as if she was leaning over it.
A blood spatter analyst noted that the blood droplets on the kitchen floor were circular, meaning that it was deposited by someone standing still or walking slowly. This was inconsistent with her story. The analyst could also find no evidence that the intruder dropped the knife on the kitchen floor as she claimed.
An audio expert analyzed Darlie's 911 call and eliminated all of the background noise. In his opinion, she had quickly moved from at least three different rooms in the house. This also contradicted her story.
Luminol was applied to the Routier kitchen. The luminol showed footprints in front of the sink; the prints belong to Darlie. Luminol testing revealed that more blood had been cleaned up around the sink before police arrived. Large amounts of Darlie's blood were found in front of the sink, suggesting that she stood there for a long time. Prosecutors believe that she cut her neck and arm there.
On the carpet was the distinct outline of the murder weapon. A large amount of blood was concentrated towards the tip of the knife. The blood spatter analyst noted that this meant that the person holding the knife was also bleeding. The blood from the outline belonged to Darlie and also Damon. However, she claimed that she had only picked up the knife and placed it on the kitchen counter.
On one of the bread knives from the knife block, a trace evidence analyst found a single fiberglass rod and some rubber dust. The analyst determined that the rod and dust were made of the same fiberglass material found on the cut window screen. No other source of fiberglass was found in the home. This meant that whoever cut the window screen then put the knife back in the knife block.
Other evidence and inconsistencies were found in Darlie's story that were brought up a trial. Several nurses and doctors testified that she did not initially have severe bruising on her arms, although the bruising was seen later. According to several witnesses, the wine glass rack (where one glass allegedly was knocked off of) was sturdy and the glasses could not fall off if they were bumped. Darlie also claimed that she had placed a towel on Damon's back; this story was contradicted by first responders. She repeatedly told the 911 operator about picking up the knife and getting her fingerprints on it.
While in jail, she claimed that she knew the identity of the intruder. However, at trial, she claimed that she had "amnesia" and couldn't remember saying that. Darlie also claimed that Damon was walking around and talking, despite being brutally stabbed in the liver and lungs. Also, the Routiers had severe financial problems prior to the murders. Friends testified that, following the murders, she was not upset and seemed more concerned about the money and refurbishing her home. Finally, Darlie repeatedly changed her story regarding: waking up, chasing the intruder, standing at the kitchen sink, helping the boys, and knowing the identity of the perpetrator.
For unknown reasons, during her May 21, 2003 appeal, Darlie and her attorneys did not challenge the legal or factual sufficiency of the evidence to support her conviction. A request for retesting forensic evidence was granted on June 18, 2008. During the Summer of 2014, a judge ordered for more forensic testing again. In 2015, the results were released: all DNA profiles tested were determined to belong to Darlie and Darin.
In 2014, a TV series Dead Again investigated Darlie's case. The investigators all came to the conclusion that she was guilty, and presented their findings to Charles Samford, the juror who had felt she was innocent. Charles now believes that she is guilty. However, her supporters continue to insist that she is innocent.
- Darlie Routier on Wikipedia
- Darlie Routier at the Crime Library
- Darlie Routier Innocence Website
- Darlie Routier Guilt Website
- Darlie Routier on 20/20
- Darlie Routier Case on Forensic Files
- Routier v. State 2003
- 2015 DNA Report
- Did Darlie Routier kill her kids? Doubts remain 20 years later
- The Disputed Conviction of Darlie Routier