Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Darlie Routier: Doting Mother/Deadly Mother

Trouble in Paradise

Returning to Texas, the couple at first moved into an apartment in Garland, close to where Darin worked, learning the computer chip industry, a booming field. Within the year, they relocated to a small home in Rowlett. Here, Darin started a company, Testnec, that tested circuit boards for computers and operated it out of their home. 

Their first child was born on June 14, 1989 a healthy boy named Devon Rush to be followed by another son on February 19, 1991 Damon Christian. With two children and a home company that grew so fast that the owners found it necessary to buy space in an upscale office building, the Routiers' life seemed to be following the quality dream of the new American family.

By 1992, their company had earned them a small fortune. The up-and-coming couple yearned to practice the prestige due them and had a house built in Dalrock Heights Addition, an affluent suburb of Rowlett, adjacent to Lake Ray Hubbard. This community of upper-class businessmen and women bragged crime-free streets and happy families.

The $130,000 two-story home of Georgian design resembled a miniature mansion with classic porch, colonial shutters and a working fountain on the front lawn. 

Complementing their new life, the family boasted a Jaguar, sitting waxed and gleaming in a circular driveway.

Routier family
Routier family

Darlie was happy. And she was a very good mother, doting on her two children, living to celebrate the good times with them. At Christmas, their house was the most illumined, at Halloween their windows displayed more goblins than any other, at Thanksgiving the Routier's turkey was the largest and most flavorful. On the children's birthdays, Darlie threw gorgeous parties inviting classmates for an afternoon of frolic in their spacious entertainment center.

But, there was another side of Darlie, claim some who knew her a side that loved to show off to cover a low self-esteem. She reveled in materialism and impression, often to the point of the bizarre. When she decided to get breast implants, she opted for size EE like the kind women had in Playboy and Penthouse. When she bought clothes, they were revealing outfits she wore out for a night's dancing just to grab the attention of onlookers.  Her wardrobe bills skyrocketed.

Darlie's detractors say that her need to be the flashiest, gaudiest  eventually overcame everything else in her life including her children. Neighbors complained that Damon and Devon, not far past the toddler stage, were left unsupervised. And when she did attend to them, she often seemed bothered at having to take the time to do so. Her patience with them decreased.

The picture of a happy family.
The picture of a happy family.

Roots of domestic problems surfaced. Celebrants at a Christmas party silently watched as Darlie and Darin argued violently when Darlie danced too many times with another man. There were rumors of extramarital dating by both partners. But, the couple continued to play the surface charade, buying buying, buying. They bought a 27-foot cabin cruiser and a space at the dock to board it at the exclusive Lake Ray Hubbard Marina.

Friends who were aware of their problems were happy when Darlie became pregnant early in 1995; they counted on the new baby as the common denominator to re-new the couple's love for each other. But, after Drake was born on October 18, 1995, the mother suffered postpartum depression. Mood swings drew sudden tempers and dark rages.

Not helping matters was the state of their finances, which, despite good business profits from Testnec, did not meet the exorbitant lifestyle Darlie and Darin preferred to live and had grown used to. Ends suddenly did not meet.

 Asserts Barbara Davis in Precious Angels: "Testnec would gross more than a quarter of a million dollars (in 1995). Almost $12,000 worth of new equipment was purchased for the flourishing business. The Routiers' tax return for the year indicated a gross income of $264,000. With a profit range of 40 percent, the couple netted a little over $100,000."

Darlie was unable to shed the weight gain she had acquired since her last pregnancy and grew increasingly antagonistic. She dropped diet pills that didn't work. A fact that, when the couple battled, Darin would remind her of, knowing he'd hit her tender spot

Cost-cutting measures ignored, spending sprees accelerating, their financial troubles deepened. The toll on their serenity was excruciating. Testnec was losing money and Darin was unable to pay himself the salary he required, nor pay Darlie anything at all for doing the books, which she had let go in her depression. Creditors fell upon them, demanding late bills. On Saturday, June 1, their bank denied them a much-needed loan of $5,000.

Darlie sporadically kept a diary. There were times she would attend to it daily, followed by long absences. On May 3, 1996, contemplating suicide, she wrote, "Devon, Damon and Drake, I hope you will forgive me for what I am about to do. My life has been such a hard fight for a long time, and I just can't find the strength to keep fighting anymore. I love you three more than anything else in this world and I want all three of you to be healthy and happy and I don't want you to see a miserable person every time you look at me..."

Darin walked in on her while she was writing and noticed the tears swelling in her eyes. She broke down and confessed the terrible thoughts of suicide that had been running hot through her brain. He held her and they talked long into the afternoon. By the end of the conversation, she had calmed. For one afternoon, they loved each other again.

A month later something snapped. And flushed up hell.

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