Hey, y’all. Today, I have the story of Darlie Routier and the murder of her two sons Devon Routier and Damon Routier. Notice that I didn’t say that Darlie is the one who murdered them because I’m not certain that she did. I have a passion for wrongful conviction cases. I think Making a Murderer really lit that fire for me. So, I’m researching cases I would like to cover when I came across the story of Darlie Routier.
On June 6, 1996, Devon and Damon were murdered in their home in Rowlett, Texas. Darlie would eventually be convicted of murdering one of the boys in 1997 and sentenced to death. But did she actually murder them? That’s a difficult question to answer and after spending hours and hours researching this case, reading trial transcripts, and watching documentaries about it, I still don’t really know the answer.
- Darlie’s version of events
- Alternate Theories
- Where is Darlie Routier now?
- What do I think?
Marriage and children
Darlie Lynn Peck met Darin Routier in 1985 at the Western Sizzlin restaurant in Lubbock, Texas. Darin was 17, and Darlie was 15. Ahhh, young love warms my cold dead heart. But this story doesn’t have a fairy tale ending.
The pair were set up by Darlie’s mother Darlie Kee. They quickly fell in love and were married in August 1988. And about nine months later on June 14, 1989, their first son Devon was born. Then in 1991, another boy followed. They named him Damon. Darlie and Darin had a third son named Drake in 1991.
So if you’re keeping track, we have Darlie, Darin, Devon, Damon, and Drake. What do you think their favorite letter is?
Darlie’s version of events
Devin and Damon were murdered in the early morning hours of June 6, 1996. According to Darlie, she and the two boys fell asleep on the couch while watching TV. Her husband Darin and the youngest son Drake were asleep upstairs, and neither of them was harmed.
She said that she woke up to see that her two boys had been stabbed, and she saw a white man with a knife. She pursued the attacker through the utility room. The intruder dropped the knife and escaped the house through a cut screen in the garage.
The call lasted nearly six minutes until paramedics arrived. Devon was already dead by the time first responders arrived, but Damon was still alive. Darin attempted to perform CPR on Damon, but the air he blew into Damon’s mouth escaped through the wound in his chest just as quickly. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Sidenote: Darin has always supported Darlie’s wife’s claims of innocence.
The police pretty quickly determined that Darlie was lying. They believe that she killed the boys and then cut herself to hide her involvement. In fact, the lead investigator said that he knew within minutes that it was a staged crime scene.
Darlie was arrested and charged with murder on June 18, 1996.
So let’s break down all the important evidence in the case.
The 911 Call
At 2:31 a.m. on June 6, 1966, Darlie made a frantic call from their big house on Eagle Drive. Through gasps and cries, she told the operator that someone had broken into her home, stabbed two of her children, and cut her throat. This call would later be used against Darlie at trial.
She referred to the intruder as “they” but then later said it was a man. Police said this was inconsistent and suspicious. I don’t agree with that at all. If you don’t know a person, referring to him or her as “they” is completely normal.
People who believe Darlie is guilty, also have latched on to a part of the recording in which she says that she picked up the knife that was used to stab her children. On the tape she says, “…we could have gotten the prints maybe.” Darlie’s critics are suspicious of this because it indicates that she is trying to explain why her fingerprints would be on the murder weapon.
But if you listen to the call in its entirety, the 911 dispatcher actually tells her not to touch anything, and that was what prompted Darlie to say that. It makes total sense to me.
The murder weapon was a knife that came from the Routier’s kitchen. Many believe that this choice of murder weapon rules out an intruder. Why would a burglar not bring their own weapon?
No valuables stolen
A pile of Darlie’s expensive jewelry was lying out in the open but had not been taken. A bit odd for an intruder not to take valuables that were there for the taking.
Behavior at the crime scene
According to David Waddell, the first officer on the scene, Darlie wasn’t worried about her children and wouldn’t help them. Darlie denies this, and the 911 call corroborates her story in my opinion.
She is heard comforting Damon on the call and continuously asked what was taking paramedics so long. And Officer Waddell told Darlie to sit down, which kind of contradicts Officer Waddell’s version of events.
Darlie Routier’s injuries
Darlie was rushed to Baylor University Medical Center because of her injuries. The slash on her neck was only two millimeters from her carotid artery. That could have been a fatal injury, and the wound required surgery.
She also had cuts on her arms, hands, and shoulders, which required stitching. Finally, she had a lot of bruising on the inside of both of her arms.
Investigators claimed that all of these wounds were shallow, superficial, and self-inflicted. And, according to police, serving the purpose of hiding Darlie’s involvement in the murders.
If I’m being honest, reader, and I will be, this is where I start to doubt Darlie’s guilt. I can’t look at the evidence photos of her injuries and call them superficial. She very well could have died from the neck wound.
And the bruises on her arms were severe and consistent with a struggle. The entire inside of both of her arms was solid black with bruising.
None of the doctors or nurses at Baylor testified that the wounds were definitely self-inflicted. They merely said that they could have been. Many things could be, but Occam’s Razor tells me that they probably weren’t.
Have you ever tried to give yourself a shot? I take monthly B12 injections, and I literally can’t push the needle in because I’m too scared. I can’t imagine cutting my own neck that deep.
Look at this slideshow of Darlie’s injuries and decide for yourself if these wounds were self-inflicted.
The blood splatter in the house wasn’t necessarily consistent with an intruder breaking in. In fact, there was no blood in the garage that Darlie said she pursued the intruder through before he escaped through the screen door.
In the kitchen, forensic examiners discovered lots of Darlie’s blood in and around the kitchen sink. The theory here is that she stood at the sink to cut her own throat and arm.
Investigators maintain that the blood splatter on Darlie’s t-shirt was consistent with her raising a knife and stabbing her sons repeatedly.
Besides the severity of Darlie’s injuries, there is one other piece of evidence that really makes me doubt the state’s case. And that is a sock that was found lying near a trash can a few houses down the street.
The sock had both Devon and Damon’s blood on it, but not Darlie’s. And there was no blood around the sock. Just on it.
Here’s the thing about that sock. It blows a huge hole in the prosecution’s theory. Doctors said that Damon would only have lived for minutes after he was stabbed. Darlie was on the call for five minutes and 45 seconds. She was still on the call when both paramedics and police arrived.
So Darlie stabbed both children, called 911, went to the sink to cut herself and then went two houses down the street to dispose of that sock.
I just have a hard time buying that.
Crime scene investigators found a smeared bloody fingerprint on the door frame to the utility room. The print doesn’t match any of the Routiers and as of now, it hasn’t been identified.
Police maintain that there is no way someone left through the cut screen in the garage. They say this because the dust on the frame was undisturbed and no one had walked in the mulch in the backyard.
I found this compelling evidence against Darlie until I saw the pictures of the screen and the surrounding area. There isn’t mulch directly under the window. It’s several feet away. And the window is ground level. You could easily step over it without touching the frame.
The silly string tape
This is one of the weirder parts of this story. Devon’s 7th birthday was only a few days after his murder. In fact, his family had already sent out invitations to his party before his death.
On the day of his birthday, close friends and family held a memorial at his joint grave with Damon (they were buried holding hands and I can’t imagine anything more tragic).
After the solemn memorial, the group had a bit of a birthday celebration for Devon complete with Darlie smacking gum and spraying silly string on the grave. I know. Not a good look, Darlie.
But here’s the thing. That’s not really evidence to me. I can’t judge how a mother grieves her children. And let’s not forget that she hadn’t been out of the hospital all that long and was still on pain medicine.
Darlie said that she did that because Devon loved silly string and she wanted to honor that. I can understand that.
And the defense didn’t show the jury the tape of events before the silly string was brought out. Why didn’t they show it? I don’t know but I think it was a big mistake. Jurors rewatched the silly string incident seven or eight times during deliberations. It clearly played a large part in their decision.
What was Darlie’s motive for this atrocious act? According to the police, it was financial.
Darin owned a computer business called Testnec while Darlie was a stay-at-home mom. They had a beautiful home in Rowlett. And I mean beautiful. It was a mansion really. But here’s the thing, they couldn’t afford the lifestyle they were living.
They were two months behind on their mortgage and owed $10,000.00 in back taxes and $12,000.00 in credit card debt. Darin had been denied a loan only two days before the murders. Is that a coincidence? That’s a very good question.
But the boys only had around $10,000 in life insurance on them which was less than the cost of the funerals. So, I’m not really following that.
Basically, the police say that Darlie was watching her lavish lifestyle slip out of her hands as she fell deeper and deeper into debt and that to solve the problem, she killed her kids. They also argued that Darlie was vain because of her dyed blond hair and breast implants. But that does not a murderer make.
So, let’s just assume that Darlie is innocent. What are the other possibilities?
The first choice is that it was a random attack. But nothing was stolen, so maybe the attacker meant to sexually assault Darlie and the boys woke up. This is all just speculation but it’s not outside the realm of what’s possible.
Was Darin involved?
We can’t really rule out Darin’s involvement. I have exactly zero evidence to support this theory, but I’m not taking it off the table.
Darlie claimed that Darin was asleep upstairs, but did he sneak down in the night after Darlie dozed off? The boys only had $10,000 in life insurance but Darlie had a six-figure policy with Darin as the beneficiary. Maybe Darin meant to only kill Darlie but the boys woke up.
If money really was the motive in this crime, wouldn’t Darin be the better suspect? But on the other hand, would Darin shout his wife’s innocence from the rooftops if he were the actual guilty party? Shouldn’t he want her on death row instead of him?
The last theory that holds any water in my opinion is that Devon and Damon were killed by an intruder that Darin had arranged to burglarize the house in an insurance fraud scheme.
The theory is that Darin set someone up to rob his home so that he could file claims on the missing items with his insurance. The family was supposed to leave for Pennsylvania a few days after the attack to visit Darlie’s parents.
So was the plan for the robbery to happen while they were out of town? Makes sense, but that’s not what happened. That night, neither Darlie’s car nor Darin’s car was in the driveway. It’s possible that the person working with Darin believed no one was home. The three woke up downstairs and they had no choice but to kill them.
Oh, and Darin signed an affidavit swearing that he had arranged the scam.
Where is Darlie Routier now?
Darlie Routier was convicted of capital murder in Damon’s case. She has never been tried for Devon’s murder.
She is currently on death row at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas.
Darlie’s appellate team is still working hard and the Innocence Project in New York has been working on the case. New DNA testing on items that have never been tested was ordered by the court more than once since 2018, but the test results are still pending.
What do I think?
What a question. Cases like this are the exact reason that I don’t support the death penalty. I don’t know that Darlie is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. I have doubts and many people consider me to be reasonable. The thought that a wrongfully convicted person will be executed is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night.
If I had to stake my life on Darlie’s innocence, I couldn’t do that. There are some incriminating pieces of evidence. But if I were on the jury, I would vote not guilty.
Where is justice for Damon and Devon? And Drake who is now an adult and had to grow up an only child without his mother?
And just as an interesting tidbit, Barbara Davis published Precious Angels: A True Story of Two Slain Children and a Mother Convicted of Murder in 1999, which vilified Darlie and denied any possibility of her innocence. But after seeing all of the evidence, she changed her mind. Davis cut her writing career short and feels that she is being punished for the book. Now she donates any proceeds from the book sales to the Routier family.
Let me know if you think Darlie is innocent or guilty in the comments! I’m truly on the fence on this one.