911 dispatchers in Rowlett, Texas received a panicked call from Darlie Routier, 26, in the early morning hours of June 6, 1996. She claimed that an intruder broke into her house and stabbed both of her sons, Devon and Damon, as well as herself. Her other child, a baby named Drake, was sleeping upstairs with her husband, Darin, and both were unharmed.
Devon was already dead when police arrived. Damon died on the way to the hospital in an ambulance. Darlie Routier was hospitalized after suffering bruises and cuts to her throat and right arm.
“Somebody came in, they broke in and just stabbed me and my children!” she screamed during the 911 call.
She described the assailant as a white male standing about six feet tall. A window screen in the garage had been cut, indicating an entryway for the attacker to gain access to the home, according to police.
However, cracks soon appeared in Routier’s intruder story. Not long after, infamous footage of her laughing and spraying silly string around her sons’ grave surfaced.
It wasn’t long before people began to wonder if Darlie Routier had actually killed her sons.
The Evidence Doesn’t Add Up
Forensic analysis revealed evidence that contradicted Darlie Routier’s statements to the police, and suspicion grew around her.
For starters, the murder weapon was a knife from Routier’s own kitchen, raising suspicions that there had been an intruder. Second, the motive for the break-in was unknown, but it appeared unlikely that it was robbery given the large amount of valuables left in plain sight but not taken.
In addition, forensic analysis of the blood spatters around the house revealed patterns that contradicted Routier’s version of events. The pattern of blood drops in the kitchen appeared to be the result of someone standing still, rather than running after an attacker, as Routier claimed.
Next, blood spatter on the back shoulder of Routier’s nightshirt supported the theory that she was the one who stabbed herself. And the puncture wounds on her shirt didn’t match any wounds on her body, implying that she stabbed the shirt on purpose to help serve as evidence for her cover-up story.
Furthermore, forensic analysts discovered large amounts of Routier’s blood in and around the kitchen sink, implying that she had stood at the sink to cut her own throat and arm — as someone who purposefully cuts themselves in order to have wounds to show authorities as a cover might do.
Finally, forensic experts discovered evidence of fiberglass rods on a bread knife in the kitchen that matched the fiberglass rods of the garage window screen. Authorities believed the cut screen was the intruder’s entry point into the house. But why would an intruder return the knife?
It seemed as though the attacker had been inside the house the whole time. And because husband Darin was with infant Drake the whole time, suspicion quickly fell on Darlie Routier.
The Case Against Darlie Routier Takes Shape
To begin with, the initial 911 call appeared suspicious.
Officers testified that Darlie Routier appeared unusually calm and alert during the call, and that she ignored instructions to apply pressure to Damon’s wound. (However, supporters of her innocence point out that she was still screaming during the call and that she may not have followed instructions due to shock.)
Even more suspicious was Routier’s statement to the dispatcher on the phone that she had touched the knife, saying, “I wonder if we could have gotten the prints maybe.”
Officer David Waddell testified during the trial, “I thought if she was worried about fingerprints on a knife, she could certainly take care of her kids.”
Following that, it appeared incriminating that Routier did not follow paramedics as they took Damon away or ask where they were taking him after the call ended and rescue workers arrived. Later, hospital nurses stated that her behavior following Damon’s death was not typical of a mother who had just lost two children.
Furthermore, her story about the intruder didn’t make sense. The window in the garage where the alleged intruder entered was not disturbed in the same way that it would have been if someone had entered from the outside. And the utility room where the murder weapon was allegedly dropped lacked blood spatter consistent with it having been dropped there.
have had no time to stage a crime scene and that unidentified bloody fingerprints on the coffee table and in the garage likely came from the alleged intruder.
The most damning evidence against Darlie Routier came from Routier herself. She had invited local news crews to film her and her family and friends at the gravesite eight days after their deaths, celebrating what would have been her son Devon’s seventh birthday. Routier and company were then caught on camera chewing gum, laughing, singing, and spraying silly string over the graves.
Prosecutor Greg Davis saw the video and saw it as proof that she was not grieving the loss of her sons. Her upbeat demeanor seemed out of character for a woman who had just lost two sons. Routier was arrested and charged with premeditated murder four days after the video was released.
The prosecution relied heavily on the video from the graveside birthday ceremony during the trial. They accused her of being a shallow, materialistic woman with no remorse. They claimed she wanted her sons to leave because they were too much responsibility and were impeding her desired lifestyle.
Darlie Routier’s defense team argued that she had no reason to murder her own children. According to the prosecution, her motivation was that she “was no longer the glamorous, blond center of attention” and was upset with her children.
Furthermore, the wound on her neck was only two inches away from her carotid artery, which the defense claimed was inconsistent with a self-inflicted injury.
Routier’s supporters also claimed that the silly string video was manipulated to make her appear heartless. Before the more joyous birthday party, she had held a solemn ceremony to honor the two boys. However, it was never shown on the news cameras.
“They ended up deliberating on the Silly String,” Routier’s mother Darlie Kee told The Dallas Morning News later. “Silly String is not a lethal weapon.”
“He wanted to be seven,” Routier later said of the video. Because he wasn’t here anymore, I did the only thing I could to honor him and grant all of his wishes. But how do you know what to do after losing two children? “How do you know how you’ll act?”
The Fate Of Darlie Routier And The State Of The Case Today
Ultimately, after the prosecution and defense battled it out, Darlie Routier was found guilty of the first-degree murder of Damon on February 4, 1997 and sent to death row.
Routier appealed her conviction in 2001 after years of legal wrangling, only to have it upheld in 2003. Four years later, her attorneys requested that DNA testing be used to exonerate her, which has yet to be done.
Those who believe Routier is innocent frequently point to the lack of DNA evidence as well as the discovery of a bloody sock, presumably belonging to the alleged intruder, in an alleyway behind the family home (among other pieces of evidence).
She is currently being held at the Mountain View Unit prison in Gatesville, Texas, awaiting execution, whether she is innocent or guilty. Darlie Routier maintains her innocence to this day.
“I did not kill my children,” she said from prison shortly after their deaths. That is absurd. I awoke, stabbed my children, and attempted to sever my head? “Come on, come on.”
Whether that’s true or false may never be known for sure.