Real Names: Devon and Damon Routier
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Rowlett, Texas
Date: June 6, 1996
Details: Devon and Damon Routier were the sons of Darlie and Darin Routier. 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 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 vacuum had been found knocked over Darlie's bloody footprints, further suggesting that she had staged the crime 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.
Suspects: The Routiers believe that the murders were a sexual assault gone awry, and that a serial rapist was responsible. A man who committed several rapes throughout the Rowlett area with similar M.O. to the murders, who entered windows of the homes, accosted the victims with knives from the kitchen and wore tube socks on the hands to avoid leaving fingerprints, was suggested as the real killer. This unidentified figure was arrested for the rapes in 2001, and the Routiers consider him a suspect.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the August 24, 2001 episode. It was also on Forensic Files and The New Detectives.
Results: Unresolved. Darlie and her attorneys have conceded that she is the only possible killer, as noted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on May 21, 2003. A request for retesting of a limited number of items was granted on June 18, 2008 and the parties are waiting for the results. Only if they show the actual existence of an intruder can a court order a new trial on her claim that she is actually innocent of the crime for which she was convicted. In 2015, the results of the tests 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 the juror who had felt she was innocent. The juror now believes that she is guilty. However, most of her supporters continue to insist that she is innocent.