Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Diane Downs: Her Children Got in the Way of Her Love

Unhappily Married

Throughout 1976 and 1977, Diane took the kids and ran away from Steve several times, but she always came back. Steve woud hunt her down to one of her many relative's homes. But, once reunited, it was monkey-chasing-weasel time all over again. He was unhappy, she was unhappy, but the marriage waned on.

"(Diane) waited for something to happen," writes Rule. "Hostile but passive, she was both bored and angry. Life was passing quickly by her; none of the things she promised herself had come true."

She decided again to conceive but not Steve's baby. By that time, 1978, the family had moved to Mesa where both Diane and Steve worked for the same mobile home manufacturer. On the assembly line Diane found her "stud," whom she passionately seduced. Her tummy swelled again and she floated in wonderland, drugged on love. Danny was born four days after Christmas, 1979.

Downs Family
Downs Family

Even though the child was not his, Steve accepted the boy as his own. Still, the marriage had reached its ebb and, within a year, the Downses decided to divorce. Diane moved in with the father of Danny, and it was during this time she began to change. Now out of the wifely manacles imposed by society and the Baptists, she seemed to ignore her duties as mother, also. The opiate of her children's love had worn off. She preferred to work, to stay away from home, to throw the youngsters on any babysitter she could find.

One sitter relates an incident that, even though she didn't know it at the time, foreshadowed tragedy. "Diane put everything before those kids. If Danny wanted attention, she would push him away...but the worst thing was one time, I caught Cheryl jumping on the bed, and I said that was not permitted. I made her sit in a chair and think about it. Cheryl sat quietly for awhile, and then she looked up. 'Do you have a gun here?' 'Of course not. Why?' 'I want to shoot myself. My mom says I'm bad.'"

Diane finally found a full-time position with the U.S. Post Office in 1981 and was stationed in Chandler. It was there she met Lew Lewiston and fell in love. But, for once, it was the other party, not Diane, to make the decision when and where the love affair would end.

As she had done mentally to her own kids, Lew physically walked out of her life.

Caught unawares, she ran home to Oregon, but not quite understanding, nor acceptant of the fact, that this time she didn't have it her way.


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