Justin is an avid true crime fan, wrongful convictions advocate, and voracious reader.
Revisiting the Myths of Darlie Routier
The case of Darlie Routier has been heavily debated since her capital murder conviction and death sentence were handed down by a Kerrville jury on February 4, 1997. The 26-year-old homemaker and mother of three alleged that an intruder had broken into her home on June 6, 1996, stabbed two of her sons to death, and attacked her, leaving her with a slashed throat, a couple of minor stab wounds, and a multitude of bruises.
Investigators, however, believed that the crime scene was "staged" and almost immediately zeroed in on Darlie as their prime suspect.
I have already extensively covered this case in another article, "Darlie Routier: Wrongfully Convicted of Murdering Her Children," and I had no intention of writing another. However, I continue to see a plethora of online comments indicating why some people believe she is guilty, and I realize there are still an overwhelming number of half-truths and misconceptions out there.
This article will address some of the myths surrounding this case.
Myth 1: The Motion-Activated Light
Investigators mentioned in an arrest warrant that one of the red flags that stuck out to them involved the outdoor motion light in the back yard. When the sensor was triggered, the light came on and stayed on for 18 minutes. They stated that if an intruder had come in through the garage window, which had been sliced open, he would have set off the light. Yet the light was not on when police arrived, only a matter of minutes after Darlie's 2:31 a.m. 911 call came in.
Debunking the Myth
What the investigators failed to mention is that the motion light was attached to the Routier's redwood home spa, which was at the very back of the yard. One had to walk right up to the spa to set off the light, and the spa was located far enough from the garage that it would not have been in an intruder's path either coming or going. The motion light is a complete non-factor, but has often been cited as one of the reasons Darlie must be guilty. It's total nonsense.
Myth 2: The Bloody Handprint on the Couch
I'll bet that if you've ever researched this case, at some point you read or heard about young Damon's bloody handprint, wiped away from the couch as a "clean-up" attempt. Here's the problem with that: It never happened. I can show you exactly where that falsity came from.
During Prosecutor Toby Shook's closing argument, he made a statement that referred to a bloody handprint, which was cut out of the carpet, right next to the couch.
"Another thing that didn't make sense is the hand print. You will recall, they cut it out. It was Damon's hand print. It was a small palm print there on the couch. Actually, I think it was right in this area here. They cut it out, the blood came back to Damon, and you could see his little hand there. The trouble is they didn't find that until after they pulled the blanket up. You see that blanket had to be placed there after he had walked through there."
Debunking the Myth
Toby Shook simply misspoke; there is absolutely no testimony from any witness stating that luminol showed where a bloody handprint had been wiped away. There is, however, testimony regarding a bloody handprint cut out of the carpet next to the couch. That is what Shook was referring to in his closing argument. While the image of Darlie surreptitiously wiping away her son's blood from the couch is both heartbreaking and ominous, it simply isn't true, and never was.
Myth 3: Doctors and Nurses Called Darlie's Injuries Self-Inflicted
No, not a single one of them ever said that. When asked if her wounds were possibly self-inflicted, the answer was they "could have" been. They could have just as easily been inflicted by an attacker; the experts simply could not say. In fact, Dr. Janice Townsend-Parchman flatly refused to even offer her opinion of whether or not they were, indeed, self-inflicted.
Douglas Parks, Court-Appointed Attorney: Now, the prosecutor asked you whether or not these wounds could have possibly been self-inflicted. Based upon your examination of Mrs. Routier, and the photographs that you have seen, do you have an opinion whether or not these wounds were self-inflicted in reasonable, medical probability?
Dr. Townsend-Parchman: They could have been.
Douglas Parks: I could win the lottery if I buy a ticket, Doctor. If I ask you whether or not, in your opinion, these wounds are consistent with being self-inflicted, in all reasonable, medical, probability, what is your answer?
Dr. Townsend-Parchman: You are not going to get one. All I'm going to say is they could have been.
Douglas Parks: Okay. Obviously then, they could not have been self-inflicted?
Dr. Townsend-Parchman: They might not have been.
Myth 4: Darlie's Hair Was Found in Window Screen
Next, I want to talk about a piece of evidence that prevented Darlie from being granted a reduction of her $1,000,000 bail. When trace evidence analyst Charles Linch examined the cut window screen thought to be the point of entry, he discovered what he described as a "forcibly removed, color-treated" blonde hair.
Well, that settled it: No bail for Darlie. Obviously, she had gotten a hair caught in the screen when she was going in and out of it, attempting to stage the crime scene.
Debunking the Myth
Fast forward a few months, after DNA tests have been performed and the results came in, and lo and behold...that hair did not belong to Darlie at all. It belonged to a Rowlett Police Officer named Sarah Jones.
This inspires more questions than answers, as far as I'm concerned. How did she come into contact with that screen? Sarah Jones did not work this case, and I can find no document or report that she was ever on Eagle Drive. I can't think of any scenario in which her hair would be close enough to the evidence to be "forcibly removed" and caught in the screen.
A little research uncovered the fact that Jones left the Rowlett P.D. in 1999; she is no longer an officer of the law. She has also been married to Eric Zimmerman, a Rowlett firefighter/paramedic who was on the scene the night of the murders. Several paramedics were called to the stand to testify for the state. Interestingly, Zimmerman was not one of them. Zimmerman also admitted that he placed two articles of (still wet) bloody clothing on top of each other in a bag, potentially cross-contaminating the evidence and making bloodstain patterns more difficult to analyze.
Read More From CrimeWire
Myth 5: Darlie Was Not "In Shock"
In medical terms, shock occurs when you do not have enough blood circulating in your body. It is a life-threatening emergency. Paramedics and doctors did examine Darlie for this condition, and concluded that she was not suffering from medical shock.
This is often confused with emotional shock, which is altogether different. Emotional shock is what Darlie's supporters are referring to when they argue that she was "in shock," although her non-supporters will be quick to respond that the "facts" state otherwise. They do not. The article below explains emotional shock in better detail.
- Emotional Shock: Definition, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
People may experience emotional shock in the wake of a traumatic event. This article explores the causes, symptoms, and treatment for emotional shock.
Myth 6: Insurance Scams For Quick Cash
Some years after Darlie was sent to death row, her husband, Darin, provided her attorneys with an affidavit. In it, he admits that in the months and weeks leading up to the crime, he had been actively seeking someone who would "burglarize" their house while they were away. The plan was for the "burglars" to remove electronics, antiques, jewelry, and other valuables and keep them in a storage unit for Darin to reclaim later. Darin, in turn, would contact his insurance company and file a claim. From the proceeds, he would pay the burglars while keeping a nice sum for himself, and keeping his belongings, to boot.
I've often heard people express disbelief that Darin actually intended to do this. Some people believe it is simply a lie he made up in time for Darlie's first appeal, especially since he alleged that he made it up at the request of her lawyers when he appeared on The Last Defense in 2018.
I believe Darin was being untruthful when he stated that he only signed the affidavit "because her lawyers put it in front of me and told me to just sign it." I believe Darin most definitely had every intention of following through with this plan. Money was tight, and Darin had done almost the exact same thing back in 1993 with his Jaguar.
A certain YouTuber, who has been very vocal over the years regarding his opinion of Darlie's guilt, uploaded a rather interesting video several years back. It was an hour-long phone call to a woman named Barbara Jovell, who had once been a very close friend of Darlie's, but ended up testifying against her in the trial. Jovell verified that in 1993, Darin did indeed arrange to have his Jaguar "stolen," and the car was kept on a property in Oklahoma while Darin was rewarded with a check from the insurance company.
Aside from the 1993 scam, Jovell also verified that there was a plan in the works in late spring/early summer of 1996. The Routier family had plane tickets to fly out to Altoona, PA, for Darlie's grandparent's golden anniversary. Jovell claimed that while they were away, she was supposed to come in and feed the animals, water the plants, bring in the mail, etc. Darin wanted her to "discover" the burglary and be the one to phone the police while he was conveniently out of the state. Jovell, wanting nothing to do with this plan, refused.
Being that Darin has a history of this sort of thing, I don't feel it is too much of a stretch to believe that he truly was planning a burglary scam.
Myth 7: Eyewitness Discrepancies
Mary Angelia "Angel" Rickels testified for the defense in Darlie's trial. On the night of the murders, two men attempted to break into her home while she was there alone with her 15-year-old daughter, terrifying them both. She claimed she did not get a good look at their faces, but she was able to offer a description of their clothing.
The first man was described as "stocky," wearing a dark-colored jogging suit and a knit cap with blonde hair peeking out. The second man was taller and thinner, wearing a dark-colored cowboy hat, blue jeans, and a "western" shirt.
Darlie's description of the attacker was that he was about 6' tall, with collar-length hair that appeared to be dark, wearing blue jeans, a dark T-shirt, and a dark ball cap.
Darlene Potter was another witness who saw two men walking on the side of the road within a half mile of the Routier residence while she was driving home in the early morning hours of June 6, 1996. According to Potter, the first man was about 6', of medium build, with shoulder-length brown hair. He was dressed in blue jeans, a black T-shirt, and no shoes or socks. The second man was described as stockier, about 5'8, no facial hair, wearing a light-colored ball cap, white shirt, and blue jeans. Potter estimated the men to be between 22-28 years old.
Non-supporters often point out the fact that Potter's affidavit mentioned that it was "after 2 a.m." when she made this sighting. They'll say that these men couldn't have had anything to do with the murders since the family wasn't attacked until closer to 2:30, when 911 was called. I say, when you are a woman driving alone in the middle of the night, "after 2" means anywhere from 2:01 a.m. to 2:59 a.m. My personal belief is that she saw these men shortly after the attacks had taken place.
Much has been made of the discrepancies between the witness testimony, as far as height, build, and clothing. While one could make the argument that the eyewitness descriptions are too varied to rely upon, this brings to mind the multiple inconsistencies of the descriptions given of Ted Bundy from witnesses who saw him at Lake Sammamish. Depending on who you asked, he had brown hair, sandy blonde hair, brown eyes, green eyes, he was about 5'8, he was definitely over 6'...you get the picture. These people all saw the same man, but each one described him differently. This is very common when there is more than one eyewitness. We normally do not remember things exactly as they occurred; the term for this is "memory error."
Blatant Misogyny on Display
A final thought on the testimony of Angel Rickels: Toby Shook was able to cast doubt on Rickels' experience when his questioning revealed that she had been watching a horror movie, and was taking the anti-depressant Trazadone. Shook basically insinuated that the entire experience was a hallucination brought on by medication and a scary movie (was Rickels' daughter taking Trazadone too? Was this a shared "hallucination?").
I find the insinuation to be downright insulting; he basically dismissed this college-educated, registered nurse as a "frightened little woman" confused as to what really happened. This tactic would never have been used on a male witness, and this just serves to underscore the misogyny that runs rampant through the Texas court system.
Whether or not Darlie is guilty will continue to be a hot point of debate until she is executed or exonerated. The New York Innocence Project was recently granted approval for extensive DNA testing on 27 pieces of evidence; some of these items are being re-tested with newer, more sensitive equipment, while other items are being tested for the very first time. The items have been safely received by a laboratory in California and are currently undergoing analysis. I have no insight to offer as to when the results are expected to come back.
I do not expect this article to change anyone's opinion on her guilt or innocence, but I do hope that at least some of the misinformation in the case has been put to rest. Until next time, stay safe and healthy, dear readers. Cheers!
A Poem by Darlie Routier Written for Her Sons
I thought of you today, as I always do
I thought of your smile, and your laughter, too
Your little hand, pressed gently in mine
No hurry or rush, no pressing of time
I thought I could hold you forever,
but God took you home to His kingdom in Heaven
There are so many words, I never got to say
So many games and silly things we never got to play
I saw the rainbow, not just one, but two
I knew it was a gift, from your brother and you
My heart longs for you, and I cry out in pain
Nothing in my life will ever be the same
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