Darlie Routier. If you remember her at all, you’re probably seeing the same mental image that most of us have: a young, attractive blonde woman chewing gum and spraying Silly String onto the new graves of her little boys. She was wearing shorts. She was laughing.

The children were murdered in June 1996, and Routier, convicted of the crime, still sits in Mountain View prison in Gatesville. She’s been there almost 20 years.

There are numerous lawyers, police officers, and judicial scholars who believe that Routier was railroaded, poorly defended, and found guilty on the basis of irrelevant factors. Her hair was bleached, her breasts augmented, her clothes and jewelry flashy. Jurors didn’t like her, and the television footage of the Silly String incident was damning. But everyone who knew her agrees that she was an attentive and loving mother. Perhaps “was” is the wrong word. One son, then an infant, was not in the room where the other two boys were stabbed. But Darlie Routier never got to mother him. She’s been in jail, in court, or in prison throughout his lifetime.


Kathy Cruz has written a sizzling page-turner about the tragedy, Dateline Purgatory: Examining the Case that Sentenced Darlie Routier to Death. The Hood County News reporter drove across Texas during all her off-hours to interview everyone involved who was willing to talk. She reviewed boxes of court transcripts and other records. Her diligence and determination are remarkable. And the story she has put together casts a heavy shadow of doubt on Routier’s guilt.

Darin and Darlie Routier made their home in Rowlett, Texas, with their three sons. They lived beyond their means, and Darin had admitted that he was planning to stage a burglary as part of an insurance scam.

But police were certain that Darlie had killed her kids and that the crime scene had been staged. Some expensive jewelry lay in plain sight, so investigators ruled out burglary. A window screen appeared to have been cut from inside the house, so they ruled out breaking and entering. Darlie’s throat was slashed, and her right arm was cut to the bone. Her hands and arms were deeply bruised, and she spent two days in intensive care at Baylor Hospital in Dallas. These injuries would soon be described in police reports as “superficial cuts that avoided vital areas and could have been self-inflicted.”

Darlie has always claimed that two men entered the living room where she and the boys had “camped out” to watch a movie. All three were asleep. She awoke as one of the intruders began stabbing her. She says the boys were unconscious, having already been attacked.

A sock stained with one of the children’s blood was found 75 yards from the Routier home in an alley. Experts testified that the little boy would have lived only minutes after being stabbed. Darlie Routier stayed on the telephone with the 911 dispatcher until first responders arrived. A person thinking clearly would wonder when Darlie had run down the alley: before or after stabbing and slashing herself?

While Darlie was in the hospital and during the following days, she spoke openly with the police without legal representation. Some of the details varied from one account to the next, and these discrepancies were brought up in court.

The trial was held in Kerrville in what is known as one of the most conservative counties in the state. The defense was weak, and the judge repeatedly fell asleep during the proceedings.

And the storm just kept on gathering. The court reporter delayed turning in the trial transcript, claimed that no audio files existed because the recording equipment had failed to function, and eventually produced a transcript marred by thousands of errors. When called to testify about the discrepancies, she took the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer.

In 1999, true-crime writer Barbara Davis wrote Precious Angels: A Story of Two Slain Children and a Mother Convicted of Murder, excoriating Routier, but now that author is convinced of that mother’s innocence. Even though Davis’ account fed the flames of Darlie-hate, she now says, “It became my biggest shame.” She has since quit writing. A wealthy Waco businessman was so troubled by the case that he financed his own investigation. He does not believe Routier is guilty. And at least one juror regrets his role in the deliberations.

This story reads like Greek tragedy, although as long as Darlie Routier is still living, the story isn’t over. She could possibly get a new trial, but that’s unlikely. While incarcerated, she received a letter from a male inmate in another prison who claimed to have knowledge of what had happened that night in 1996. But along with details that seemed accurate, his forecast of the future was even more chilling. He wrote, “They didn’t want to try and execute you while you’re still young and pretty because it will draw a public outcry. So they will put off your date for 25 years when you get old and ugly. … There are a lot of people who want you to die.”

Darlie Routier, like all of us, will die. But with any luck, her death won’t be at the hands of the state.

[box_info]Dateline Purgatory: Examining the Case that Sentenced Darlie Routier to Death, by Kathy Cruz
TCU Press
240 pps.


  1. Whether you believe she is innocent or not, Darlie Routier did not receive a fair trial: selective/questionable evidence, a sleeping judge, unwarranted character assinatiation, a transcript filled with errors and a weak defence team all fast-tracked this woman to death row.
    Time is running out – read this and take action.

    • She received a fair trial. Even the DNA results released this summer only point to Darlie. Read the transcripts, study the evidence. Darlie is definitely guilty of killing Damon and Devon. Only Darlie.

    • In an update to her case, Darlie and her attorneys have conceded that she is the only possible killer, as noted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on May 21, 2003. A request for retesting forestic evidence was granted on June 18, 2008. During the Summer 2014 a judge ordered for more forensic testing again. That testing was completed in June of 2015. Only unidentified thing is a smudged finger print that is Darlies size, just too smudged to id.

    • I’ve watched so many trials in my life. Darlie Routier is one that I have fought with. I mean lots of things could have happened she could have picked up that night she could have knocked over the vacuum after she walked by it with blood she could have been totally innocent. But what do for me finally is I found out that this screen cut in her house was from the inside maybe the outside they weren’t sure but the serrated knife that was used was put back in the knife block. Like he put it back or they put it back. Crazy! I mean is it possible that he put it back maybe. This woman if she is innocent and I said if, has lived all horrible deal in life.

  2. I hope once this bitches name showed up on the scheduled execution list there won’t be any more stoppers. This is just taking way too long for justice to be served in this case. Simply way to long.

  3. The very idea that she cut her own throat is nonsensical. The chain she was wearing around her neck was imbedded in her wound with the knife having cut two of the links in the chain. It had to be removed by a nurse at the hospital prior to surgery and it was noted during the suturing of her neck that it was a slice that was only 2MM from her carotid artery. Darlie’s neck was slashed from L to R, as someone who is L-handed would have done. When did she have time to allegedly provide self-inflicted wounds, run 150 yards in just a t-shirt to plant a bloody sock, stage the scene and have EMT’s arrive while one of her children is still alive and she’s screaming “hang on, Devin!”? Her defense sucked, there’s no doubt about it but I believe it’s because the state’s case was so flimsy, based on character assassination, coached witnesses whose stories changed, that the defense thought they wouldn’t need much to provide doubt.

    Unfortunately, with a sleeping Judge and a transcriptionist who lied about the 53+ pages lost and who was given immunity when testifying about the transcript she provided, Darlie should have been given an immediate retrial but in Texas, they are loathe to admit their mistakes. I remember watching a show about Project Innocence and the prosecutor who many suspected of hiding evidence, refused to admit they were wrong despite DNA evidence that pointed to someone other than the man who had been in prison for 10 years. She kept saying I did the best I could do with what I had to work with but in reality, she twisted what she had to fit her idea of what happened rather than accept the evidence at face value.

    In Darlie’s case, the prosecutor was so unsure of himself that they only charged Darlie with one of her sons’ murder rather than trying her on both so they would be able to try her again for the other son if she was acquitted on the first one. It’s not double jeopardy but sure as hell close to it. They didn’t have a case against Darlie so they assassinated her character that was similar to 90% of the women in TX when it came to appearance. She was loved by her kids, family, husband, neighbors and their kids. Parents were never hesitant to let their kids play at her house so just how bad of a mother was she? Not at all! She needs a retrial now!

    • It’s pointless to to argue with ignorant people, I’ve always believed she was innocent just as you have. She was definitely railroaded! Her trial was held in a county that had already found her guilty so why pay any attention let alone stay awake!