She's On Death Row For Killing Her Children, But She Swears She Is Innocent

To many people, Darlie Router did the unthinkable: she murdered her children. On June 6, 1996, the 26-year-old mother of three called the police, reporting that an intruder had broken into her Rowlett, TX, home and stabbed her and two of her sons. Routier survived the attack, but the wounds proved to be fatal for Devon, 6, and Damon, 5. Within weeks, she was arrested in connection with her children's murder. A jury found her guilty and sent her to death row.

However, Routier and her family have always maintained her innocence, and further review of her trial supports her story. The following list collects Darlie Routier murder controversy facts. While she has been called a heartless child killer and compared to Andrea Yates, it may be possible Routier is just a victim herself and innocent of murder. Routier's story has been featured on the 2018 crime documentary series The Last Defense.

  • Darlie Routier Called 911 Saying An Intruder Attacked Her And Her Sons

    On July 5, 1996, the Routiers settled into the family room in their Rowlett, TX, home. Darlie Routier fell asleep on the couch with her two oldest sons, 6-year-old Devon and 5-year-old Damon, sleeping on the floor nearby. At around 10:30 pm, Routier's husband, Darin, took their youngest son, 7-month-old Drake, upstairs where they went to sleep in Darin and Darlie's bedroom.

    At 2:30 am, Routier alleges that she woke up to Damon calling out for her and that she saw a man walking out of her utility room. Routier went to the kitchen to follow the man, and when she turned on the light, she noticed blood on her nightgown. She followed the figure through the utility room, where she discovered a knife, which she picked up and placed on the kitchen counter.

    Reportedly, Routier then saw Devon and screamed, waking Darin. They quickly called 911. Police and paramedics arrived on the scene just three minutes after the call. Devon was already dead, and Damon died after being transported to the hospital.

    Routier was taken to the hospital as well for her injuries, which included a deep stab wound across her throat that forced a necklace so deep into her throat it had to be surgically removed. The gash across her neck barely missed her carotid artery. Additionally, Routier's right arm was covered in bruises, and she sustained two stab wounds.

  • Evidence At The Scene Contradicted Routier's Account

    Investigators became skeptical of Routier's story of a break-in as they gathered evidence. There was jewelry sitting on the kitchen counter that the intruder did not take. While a window screen was cut from the outside, investigators found that the knife used to cut the screen was a bread knife from the Routiers' own kitchen. 

    The blood splatter found on Routier's nightgown indicated that she may have been holding the knife that killed her sons, and tests showed that blood was found around the kitchen sink as if someone had tried to clean blood off of themselves.

    They also found Routier to be inconsistent with what exactly happened, as her story kept changing regarding the events that took place. Her lawyers have claimed she went in and out of consciousness, which made the sequence of events challenging to remember. Based on these inconsistencies, law enforcement arrested and charged Routier with the murder of her sons less than two weeks after the killings.

  • Prosecutors Believed Financial Difficulties Contributed To The Murders

    The Routiers reportedly started having financial problems, so much so that in March of 1996, three months before his sons were murdered, Darin was planning an insurance scam to obtain funds. He asked his father-in-law whether he knew anyone he could hire to burglarize his home so that he could receive an insurance payoff. 

    In a police affidavit, Darin made clear that his intentions for the planned robbery were to take place while his family was not in the home. The scheme caused some to wonder whether the murders were part of a staged robbery gone wrong. 

    During the murder trial, prosecutors speculated that the Routiers' financial difficulties were a possible motive for Routier to commit the murders. They brought her physical appearance under questioning - such as her dyed hair and fake breasts - and proposed Routier was scared of losing her lifestyle, which led her to kill her children. 

  • A Video Played As Evidence In Her Trial Portrayed Routier In A Bad Light

    A Video Played As Evidence In Her Trial Portrayed Routier In A Bad Light
    Video: YouTube

    What would have been Devon Routier's 7th birthday fell eight days after his death. On his birthday, Routier gathered with family and friends to celebrate his memory at his grave. A local news channel captured video of a laughing Routier spraying Silly String on her sons' graves. 

    The video was shown to jurors seven times during her murder trial. Greg Davis, the lead prosecutor in the case, told the courtroom: “The defense claimed she was grief-stricken and shocked. The video shows she wasn’t either of those.”

    Some believe that the Silly String video is one of the main reasons why the jury convicted Routier of murder. However, the local police department had surveillance cameras set up at the cemetery that captured Routier crying during the graveside prayer service prior. The police footage was inadmissible in court and therefore never shown to jurors. 

  • A Bloody Sock Was Discovered 75 Feet From The Routier Home After The Murders

    One of the most significant pieces of evidence supporting Routier's account is a bloody sock investigators found in an alley approximately 75 yards from the Routier home. DNA tests proved that the blood on the sock belonged to one of the boys. 

    Defense attorney Steven Cooper claims Routier would not have had time to stab the boys, plant the sock, stage a break-in, and injure herself all without her husband waking up. 

    During the trial, the defense brought attention to a bloody fingerprint discovered on a table in the Routier home. Prosecutors dismissed the evidence as a child's print. Since the children were both already buried by the time the trial had taken place, prints could not be checked. Reportedly, medical examiners had failed to obtain the prints prior to the children’s burials.

    However, the Routiers exhumed the children's bodies in 2000, and the fingerprint did not belong to either child, their parents, or any of the investigators who searched the home that day. In 2008, a federal judge allowed for additional DNA testing, including the fingerprints and other pieces of evidence police recovered from the home.

  • Routier Was Convicted Of Murder And Sent To Death Row

    A jury convicted Routier of one count of murder for killing her 5-year-old son, Damon. On February 4, 1997, the judge sentenced Routier to death by lethal injection. While there were inconsistencies between Routier's account and physical evidence at the scene, a lot of her supporters contend the prosecution's case was based on circumstantial evidence.

    While she's lived on death row for more than 20 years, Routier has maintained her innocence the entire time. As of June 2016, a date for her execution still has not been set. Routier continued to file appeals, including the 2008 appeal to have DNA evidence tested.