Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Texas Cadet Murder Case

Fateful Obsession

"After Diane gave me the ultimatum, I thought long and hard about how to carry out the crime. I was stupid, but I was in love."

— From David Graham's confession

Diane Zamora and David Graham (COURT TV)
Diane Zamora and David Graham

The Texas teenagers did not fit the classic profile of cold-blooded killers, at least not until closer inspection. David and Diane appeared to be just another amorous teenage couple, an exemplary one at that: a handsome, athletic clean-cut young man and a pretty dark-eyed honor student. Beneath the external appearances an unhealthy obsession had begun to develop.

Bright futures ahead of them, they were both 14 years old when they first met at Fort Worth Texas, but did not begin officially dating until four years later. They were enrolled in weekly Civil Air Patrol search and rescue training classes for volunteers age 12-21.  Having similar interests in learning the basics of military life, every Tuesday night they participated with other area teenagers in military-style drills at a small airport. The program not only brought them together as a couple, but also supplied them with the experience useful for their military careers.

Drawing them together were their similar aspirations, goals, intelligence levels and desires for achievement.  David wanted to be a fighter pilot and Diane wanted to be an astronaut.  The discipline and regimentation of the military life was their preferred lifestyle.

On their first date they went to the movie Crimson Tide. Ironically, this 1995 action/drama/thriller movie's story line foreshadows the Graham-Zamora folly. The movie's spectacular ending depicts the escalating conflict into mutiny, as the two lead characters fight for control of the Alabama nuclear missiles.

A whirlwind romance after dating only one month, they announced their engagement, planning to marry after their scheduled graduations from U.S. military academies. "They were just together all the time," Gloria Zamora would testify. "I basically didn't see much of her after he came into her life." Inseparable, while high school seniors, they often took turns spending the night at each other's family homes.

There are conflicting reports regarding the couple's relationship. Certain friends and family members claimed they were enthralled with each other. Others saw their relationship more as an unhealthy obsession. Zamora supporters claimed that it was Graham who dominated the relationship. When out in public he would constantly have his arm around Zamora and was alleged to have refused to let her family members give her a hug at her high school graduation. They also said that Graham insisted that Zamora run on her school track team, something that she did not enjoy doing, but did it anyway because he told her to. Graham's supporters, on the other hand, perceived that it was Zamora, not Graham, who was possessive and obsessive. They alleged that Zamora insisted that Graham quit a couple of jobs so as not to interfere in their relationship.

David drove Diane everywhere: to work, CAP meetings, school, track meets, and they saw each other every day. Moreover, when Diane was in the hospital after her serious auto accident, maiming her hand, David stayed with her day and night, even missing school. When apart, Zamora spoke of Graham constantly, referring to their bond as "pure" and "not an ordinary love".

In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, forensic psychologist Sharri Julian opined that the Graham-Zamora crime was about sex, that they were exhibiting what is known as 'folie deux' (a shared pathological disorder). "You've got two people who, individually, would probably never do anything like this," she said, "but they become so intertwined with one another that they form a third person. They're bright, intellectual people who both probably perceive of themselves as highly moral, but then they come together. Somehow, one there in the cosmos, these two celestial bodies collide and this is what they produce."

Only a few short months into their obsessive relationship, David told Diane devastating news, especially in light of her high regard for her virginity and having had sex with David under the sanctity of their engagement.

 "I have something to tell, that is really important," David said. "You haven't been the only girl in my life. I have had sex with someone else before."

"I just looked at him in shock," admitted Diane, "and I asked did he mean he wasn't a virgin when he met me and he said he was. I think that made me feel even worse 'cause that (he) mentioned that he lost his virginity to me, but that he had been with someone else since."

David explained it this way, "I was always being told by Diane that our relationship was perfect and pure. The love we shared would never be broken, no one would ever come between us. No one, that is, except that one girl that had stolen from us our purity."

For the two people caught in an unhealthy dependency, the results of this devastating revelation were explosive.

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