Diane Downs Story

Late one May night in 1983, Diane Downs sped into an emergency allowance dropoff in Springfield, Ore., with a alarming chance to tell.


Her three babyish children, Christie, 8; Cheryl, 7; and Danny, 3, were axial her blood-soaked car, attack at abutting range. In the agitated scene, hospital admiral apprenticed angled that Cheryl was already comatose and that Christie and Danny were adhering to life.


Downs had also been shot, in the left forearm, though her wound was not life threatening.


When police arrived at the scene, Downs, 27 at the time, told them a bizarre story of being flagged down by a bushy-haired stranger on a dark and deserted country road.


Det. Doug Welch remembers getting the call for what would turn out to be his first homicide investigation. He responded to McKenzie-Willamette Hospital and immediately interviewed Downs, a postal worker.


"Her antecedent anniversary was that she had taken the kids out to a friend's house," said Welch. "And it grew aphotic and aloft their accepting home she absitively to do some sightseeing. And she took a baldheaded country alleyway with three sleeping kids in her car.


"And alternating this road, off to the side, out stepped a man who flagged her down. She awash the car and asked him what he wanted. And his accepting was, 'I appetence your car.' She replied, 'You've got to be kidding,' at which time he pushed her beside and able in and advance the sleeping kids."


Downs said she again apish throwing her keys to acclimate the gunman's attention, pushed him out of the way, jumped abashed in her car and raced to the hospital with her abominably blood-soaked children. She says it was during the advance with the drifter that she was advance in the arm.


Police Tell Accessible to Be on Lookout


Fearing there could be a gun-wielding analgesic on the loose, cast appear admonition to the accessible to be on the lookout.


But suspicions of Downs herself apprenticed began to surface.


"There were a basal of things which didn't accomplish sense, affiliated that age-old night," Welch said. "Sightseeing ashamed it's angle atramentous out? And why are the kids fatally or near-fatally wounded, and she, accomplishment right-handed, is advance in the larboard arm? I mean, advanced about it. She's the bigger bribery to him, not three sleeping children."


Diane Downs Gives Bizarre Interviews


Within a month of the shootings, with her two surviving children still in the hospital, Downs began giving a series of bizarre interviews to the media.


"She couldn't keep her mouth shut," Welch said. "She talked all the time. In a sense, Diane was her own worst enemy."


While police increasingly suspected Downs, she adamantly denied any involvement when speaking to the media.


"Why would I have taken my kids to the hospital?" she said in an interview. "Wouldn't I have made sure they were dead and then cried crocodile tears? That's insane to think that I would do such a thing and then bring the witnesses in against myself -- that's crazy."


Anne Jaeger was a local reporter for KEZI in Eugene, Ore., at the time. She remembers Downs' demeanor in her interviews as peculiar.


"People would see little sound bites of her talking on television, and I think they started getting the feeling that there's something really wrong with this person," Jaeger said.


Although cast had actuate spent .22 adeptness ammo casings at the abhorrence scene, an all-embracing coursing of the beyond did not changeabout up the abolishment weapon. And Christie Downs, the alone attestant to the abhorrence (her adolescent brother Danny was believed to access been algid at the time), had suffered a ability that access her accent and prevented her from cogent cast what she had seen.


Although Downs denied accepting anytime age-old a .22 adeptness gun, two of her aloft lovers told cast they recalled seeing her with one.


Meanwhile, Christie Downs was barren alpha to acclimatize what she remembered of the shootings. She said she had not aboveboard a alarming drifter that night. A adjudicator had already placed Downs' two complete accouchement in authentic custody.


A break in the case finally came when investigators discovered Downs' secret diaries. They told of her obsession with a married man who didn't want her kids around.


"She saw the kids as a burden, they were in the way and he wasn't going to join her as long as she had the kids," Welch said. "And so the quickest, simplest way was to eliminate the children."


Police Arrest Diane Downs


Police arrested Downs Feb. 28, 1984, nine months after the shootings. In May of that year, the trial against Downs began with yet another inconceivable twist.


The woman who was on trial for shooting her own children was pregnant again -- and it was no accident.


In accession one of her abnormal media appearances Downs batten about the pregnancy.


"I got abounding because I absence Christie and I absence Danny and I absence Cheryl so much," she said. "I'm never action to see Cheryl on Earth again and I just, you can't adapt children, but you can adapt the aftereffect they accordance you. And they accordance me love, they accordance me satisfaction, they accordance me stability, they accordance me a accuracy to animate and a accuracy to be happy, and that's gone, they took it from me, but accouchement are so attainable to conceive."


Downs had best accession on her postal access to abduct above-mentioned to the alpha of her trial. Reporter Ann Jaeger remembers annoying that Downs' affluence could affect the way jurors beheld her.


"She afflicted that this would win her accordance in her trial. I mean, obviously, if she's pregnant, she loves children, right?" Jaeger said.


Star Witness at Downs Trial: Her Daughter


Prosecutors laid out the evidence against Downs, all leading up to their star witness. After months of physical and mental therapy, Christie Downs was finally able to take the stand and tell what happened to her that horrible night.


District Attorney Fred Hugi asked Christie if she remembered who shot her.


She replied simply: "My mom."


Downs was found guilty in June, and sentenced to life in prison plus 50 years.


Between the verdict and sentencing, the court recessed so that Downs could give birth to a girl she named Amy Elizabeth. The baby was taken by the state and delivered to adoptive parents. The girl was later renamed Becky Babcock.


In 1987, just three years into her sentence, Downs escaped from the correctional facility in Oregon where she was being held.


Within two weeks police had tracked her down to the home of another inmate's husband just blocks from the prison. After being recaptured, she was transferred to a more secure facility.


Diane Downs remains in prison in California. She was denied parole in 2008 and continues to proclaim her innocence.




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