Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Darlie Routier: Doting Mother/Deadly Mother


Because of its severity, the crime scene drew Rowlett's law enforcement honchos. Among them were Lieutenant Grant Jack, commander of the Investigative Division. Summoned from his bed, he arrived shortly after 3 a.m. and viewed the battle-hardened appearance of Eagle Drive.

In the foyer of 5801, he met Detective Jimmy Patterson, a veteran of the Crimes Against Persons Division, who pointed out the Routier child, Devon, still lying under a blanket. He explained what he knew up to this time concerning the slayings that the mother claimed a stranger had committed the atrocities and a butcher knife (murder weapon) lay where the police found it, on the kitchenette counter, bloodied. The mother, said Patterson, had put it there after lifting it off the floor after the killer dropped it.

As the two professionals conferred, their forces uniformed and in plain clothes steam-rolled throughout the home's many rooms looking for suspicious objects and possible clues. Ascending the Routier's circular staircase to the second floor, a couple of them were accosted by a yapping white Pomeranian that rounded the upper landing to hold them at bay; the animal nipped Patrolman Mark Wyman's trouser leg. Karen Neal, on hand, rushed to the rescue.

"It's Karen, Domain, Karen! Now leave the policemen alone and get in your corner!" she scolded. Corralling Domain, she apologized to the police and explained that the dog was averse to strangers. The patrolmen, and probably Karen Neal too, wondered where this watchdog had been during the all-important time of break-in. He might have saved two lives.

Lieutenant Jack, a professional in the law enforcement field for more than 20 years, had never witnessed slaughter like this in such a peaceful, suburban community; it left him pondering the creature that caused this, that walked on two feet and called itself human. And when the morgue attendants zipped what was left of little Devon into the standard black plastic body bag, the officer, who considered himself a pretty tough person, turned his face away to bawl like a baby.

"For months, when I'd came home from work, I'd walk into my five-year-old's room to check on him," Jack later recalled. "When I looked at my son sleeping, I didn't see him, I saw Damon in the morgue and Devon on the floor...I just couldn't shake the vision."

But, it wasn't just the physicality that gnawed at Jack. It was something else. Something deep under that warned his psyche: Something doesn't add up here. Patterson felt it, too, and admitted it. A strong sense of the macabre crept into their bones.

Jack put Patterson and his partner, Chris Frosch, in charge of the investigation; he sent Frosch to the hospital, in fact, to interview Mrs. Routier at first chance. He needed to get as much detailed information as he could about what happened in this house to cause such blood-letting and havoc. So far, too many blanks existed. And too many suspicions, Maybe wayward, maybe premature.

Aerial view: 5801 Eagle Drive
Aerial view: 5801 Eagle Drive

Eagle Drive had become a rush. Media crews had assembled and cameras flashed in the darkness, catching police activity. The whiteness of their spotlights illumined the pre-dawn hours and mingled with the colors of the squads' rotating "cherry" beams to stroke a bizarre texture of light across the dark canvas somewhat, Jack thought, like the thread-thin line between nightmare and awakening. The lieutenant squinted into the light of the overheads and shook his head at the attention these tragedies always attract.

Away from the ears of the cameramen, Sgt. Walling drew his superior into his confidence; he looked stunned. "Lieutenant, you won't believe what Mr. Routier said to me right before he left to go to the hospital with his wife. He turned to me and I swear to God he said, 'Golly, I guess this is the biggest thing Rowlett's ever had.' The man had two of his children slaughtered tonight, and he's acting like the damn circus is in town!"

No, Jack thought to himself, things didn't add up.

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