Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Darlie Routier: Doting Mother/Deadly Mother

Of Shadows and Silly String

Darlie Routier had not yet returned to her home on Eagle Drive since that horrible morning; she, Darin and baby Drake had been staying with Mama Darlie in Plano. Needing some articles of clothing, she telephoned her friend Mercedes Adams a few days after the funeral to ask if she would mind driving her there. Mercedes complied, but expected Darlie to buckle under upon walking into the place that took the lives of her two sons. The girlfriend was in for an awakening.

Death lingered in the foyer, but Darlie, Mercedes noted, charged onto the scene seemingly unaware and like a bull elephant, arms akimbo, shouted, "Look at this mess! It'll cost us a fortune to fix this shit!"

"Right there where her boys were killed, and that's the first thing she said to me. I put my hands on Darlie's shoulders and said, 'Darlie, look me in the eye and tell me you didn't kill the boys.' She looked me in the eye and said, 'I'm gonna get new carpet, new drapes, and fix this room all up.' I couldn't believe it."

Back at the Rowlett Police Station, questions loomed. Among them: 1) What was the motive for the murders? 2) If a robbery, why was Darlie's jewelry and purse left untouched? 3) Why would an intruder kill two children before dispatching the adult, who posed a more serious threat? 4) Why would the killer, who obviously had no scruples about murdering a pair of small boys, back off when Darlie awoke, leaving a witness alive to identify him? 5) Why would he drop the murder weapon on the floor, giving Darlie, his pursuer, a weapon in which to fight back? 6) Why would he have used the Routiers' butcher knife in the first place? (Assailants come to their intended victim's premises already armed.) 7) Why were there no visible signs of an intruder footprints, handprints, drops of blood beyond the house where he made his escape? And as questions mounted, it appeared that a bread knife owned by the Routiers might have been used to cut the garage screen, thus more questions: 8) Had the intruder used the Routier's bread knife to slash his way in? and 9) If so, how did he get the knife in the first place?

Detective Jimmy Patterson conferred with Dr. Townsend-Parchman, who had photographed Darlie's wounds allegedly received by the phantom intruder. While her boys were maliciously and forcefully attacked, her wounds were surface and bore trademarks of what doctors call "hesitation wounds" that is, the wounds indicated that the blade had slowly, deliberately, cut into her skin and, when pain was encountered, the person holding the blade reflexively withdrew it.

Rowlett police had turned to the FBI's Center for Analysis of Violent Crime in Quantico, Virginia, to evaluate and compare the wounds of the dead boys to those of Darlie. The FBI's Al Brantley, after studying the doctors' and coroner's reports as well as the crime findings in general attested that the wounds between sons and mother were indeed vastly different Darlie's superficial, Damon's and Devon's massive and mortal. The attack on the children was personal, said Brantley. "The killer focused on their chests," he emphasized, "almost as if going for their heart. That indicates extreme anger toward them."

Sanguinary nightshirt, police evidence
Sanguinary nightshirt, police evidence

Brantley reported other observations. "For a violent struggle to take place as the mother claimed, no real breakage occurred. After looking at the crime-scene photographs, it appeared to me that the intruder who committed this crime had a strong connection to the material items in the home. The living room was fairly small and compressed. Two adults fighting would have resulted in a lot more broken things. A lot of fragile items in the living room that should have taken the brunt of a struggle were not broken."

His conclusion: Damon's and Devon's slayer was someone who knew them and knew the premises. The entire scenario had been planned in advance and staged.

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