Newcomers to this blog are advised to begin with the first two posts, Just the Facts, Ma'am and Case Solved, which explain in very general terms why I believe I've solved this case. Some important questions are answered in the following post, Misunderstandings, Misconceptions, Misdirections. After that feel free to browse whatever topics might interest you (see blog archive).

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Friday, July 27, 2018

The Impossible Darlie Routier Case

No action around here for some time. Very unusual because this blog is usually overwhelmed with comments, often too many for me to keep up with. I get it though, because, well, what more is there to say about the Ramsey case that hasn't already been said a thousand times? We're all patiently waiting for news regarding the CBS lawsuits, but those wheels are grinding really, really slowly.

Meanwhile I've been preoccupied with various other, very different, projects, all of which are now complete -- which means I'm getting bored. The  other day, however, I accidentally came across a youtube video on the Darlie Routier case. That peaked my interest, so I decided to do a bit of research, and what I learned truly stumped me. For a brief summary of the case, for those of you who may not be familiar with it, I recommend this presentation of the Case Background.

There are aspects of this case that remind me of both the Ramsey and Amanda Knox cases. As with the Ramsey case, we have an alleged intruder, but no evidence of his presence anywhere in the house. We have an apparent entry-exit point at a window that seems almost certainty staged. And of course we have the brutal murder of two young children, roughly the same age as JonBenet. We also have a mother, not unlike Patsy Ramsey, who, like Patsy, has been accused of putting on an act in order to cover up her "obvious" guilt. In both cases, we see the usual attempts to "nail" the favored suspect on the basis of heavy-handed and, imo amateurish attempts at "criminal profiling": her 911 call was "obviously" faked; her story kept changing; "no loving mother would do" this or that; she showed too much emotion; she showed too little emotion; she lied. Etc.

We see similar efforts in the Amanda Knox case. Amanda did cartwheels while waiting to testify, Darlie held a birthday party for one of her murdered sons at which she appeared suspiciously happy; Amanda seemed emotionally detached; so, at times, did Darlie; Amanda was a spoiled brat; Darlie was a self-absorbed narcissist who had recently had breast implants. More seriously, we see a naive over-reliance by the investigators on dubious forensic evidence, coupled with a tendency to ignore exculpatory evidence and even simple logic. In both cases, the relative position of certain items in the  house was deemed crucial despite the existence of alternative explanations. In both cases, efforts to establish motive bordered on the absurd.

Thanks to the research I've done on both the Ramsey and Knox cases, I've developed a healthy skepticism regarding investigative methods of this sort, that are long on speculation and short on logic. Nevertheless, I must admit that, unlike my convictions regarding the  innocence of both Patsy and  Amanda, in this case I'm stumped. While evidence of an intruder was missing in both the Ramsey and Routier cases, the Ramsey case is different because the presence of an intruder along with the existence of a "ransom" note written on a pad from the house doesn't add up. The Ramsey intruder theory simply makes no sense. Darlie's contention that she was assaulted by an intruder does, on the other other hand, make sense -- there is no reason to assume an intruder could not have been present -- but there is no evidence to support it. While an intruder who had just stabbed two children so viciously that the knife went completely through them would be expected to leave a trail of blood along the entirety of his escape route, no such trail was found. Nor were there any traces of foreign DNA and no strange footprints or fingerprints. The presence of some of the victims' blood on a discarded sock found two or three blocks away is a complete mystery as no other blood was found anywhere near it. If it had somehow become attached to an intruder's clothing and accidentally fallen off, we'd expect to see a bloody trail leading to it. By the same token, if it had been planted there by Darlie after stabbing her children, then she too would have left a trail of blood.

On the other hand, I find it extremely difficult to conclude that Darlie could have stabbed her children and then covered it up by concocting an unlikely story, despite the lack of intruder evidence. First of all, it's literally impossible to see a motive. Why would a supposedly loving mother, with no record of any mental illness and no criminal record suddenly snap and brutally stab two boys that she apparently doted on? To what end? In the Ramsey case, an apparent motive becomes much more likely when we consider the evidence of prior molestation, but nothing of that sort or anything close to it has emerged in the Routier case. The children had life insurance, but it amounted to only $5,000, roughly the cost of burial. Secondly, the wound on Darlie's throat, which the investigator's assumed to be self-inflicted, came dangerously close to severing her carotid artery -- according to her doctor, it missed that artery by only one or two millimeters. This is most definitely NOT consistent with a self-inflicted wound. Darlie came very close to death that day.

So WHAT exactly is the story here? What could have happened? I must say that if I'd been on that jury, I'd have voted for acquittal, based essentially on reasonable doubt, because the case remains an unsolved mystery as far as I'm concerned. I would certainly not have voted for the death sentence, that's for sure.

Despite the fact that, at this point, I'm completely stumped, I do have some thoughts regarding certain possibilities that might or might not be fully consistent with the evidence. And I'm eager to learn what readers might think and whether  someone might come up with a convincing angle that I'm not aware of. In any case, I'll be discussing an alternative theory in my next post.


  1. Ah yes Doc. My second favorite case , I know every detail of this case very well. I am always very intrigued by cases that leave me a bit stumped or 50/50 as to guilt of a suspect. I , at first study of this case long ago could not decide if Darlie guilty or innocent. However, over time this one has become pretty close to a no brainer to me, although I have always since day 1 bekieved that her husband played some role. The only piece of evidence that points away from Darlie is that one of the boy's bloody socks was found about a block away from the house.
    Evidence against her is as follows, the knife used in the murder of the boys, taken out of the holder from inside the Routier's own kitchen was found to have fibers from the exact screen that was cut by "the intruder" to get into the house. Solid evidence of staging and cleanup were found in the kitchen sink, the vacuum cleaner was found over blood from the murders. This killer went from a stabbing motion used to kill the boys to a slashing motion to "attempt" to kill Darlie. (Convenient)
    The glass broken on the kitchen floor was broken after the blood was already there. Blood splatter was found on the back of Darlies shirt, which, according to experts, could only come from her lifting a knife over her head and stabbing from overhead. It has been awhile since I have read anything about this case but for years Darlie's lawyers were pursuing proof of an intruder and from the way I had understood it found just that, fingerprints that could not be identified.
    Prosecutors say that these are nothing more than smudged prints from the boys and Darlie herself.
    This case seems much more cut and dry to me than the Ramsey case and the seperation of media generated BS was much easier to seperate from fact than the Ramsey case as well. The media generated a huge Darlie is innocent campaign based on Darlie and her husbands claims of innocence and you will hear alot of Darlie was only found guilty because of the silly string tape but I beg to differ on that.
    I will update myself on this case now but read a bit more on it and you be the judge.
    I think in relation to the Ramsey case however, that if anything , it proves that a mother is surely capable of doing what was done to JBR and this is just another example and a great one of that.
    Darlie's behavior after the murder was much more convincing and believable than Patsy Ramsey's, thus many peoples belief that Darlie is innocent.


    1. Thanks for the link to this very interesting description and analysis of the blood evidence. While the post contains useful information (presuming it's accurate), it's also a good example of why I tend to be skeptical of conclusions based solely on forensics. The descriptive part seems accurate enough, but at least some of the conclusions drawn seem tainted by confirmation bias. My suspicions are reinforced by my experiences in analyzing the Amanda Knox case, where the authorities became convinced of her guilt based almost solely on highly questionable interpretations of forensic evidence.

      In this case, I see a similar tendency. For example:

      "Luminol proved blood was rinsed down the sink and wiped up from the counter on the sides of the sink, the taps and spout."

      OK, that's interesting. But assuming Darlie had been staging, what possible reason would she have had to rinse and wipe off that blood?

      "Luminol used on the floor showed someone had cleaned up bloody footprints."

      Again, how would cleaning up those footprints have been useful if Darlie had been staging a breakin? No reason to clean up her own footprints, as she was obviously there. No reason to clean up one of the boy's footprints, for the same reason. And what reason would she have had to clean up an intruder's footprints? Evidence of a cleanup does look suspicious but unless you can show how this would have helped her make her case, it's irrelevant.

      "The vacuum cleaner found in the kitchen had bloody footprints underneath it and Darlie’s blood on the top in patterns showing she was moving, not using the vacuum as a crutch."

      What possible reason would she have had to lie about that? What would she have had to gain by claiming she used the vacuum cleaner as a crutch.

      The best all this forensic blood evidence can do is demonstrate some inconsistencies in her story, which could easily be due to the confusion of someone experiencing extreme trauma. But there is nothing in any of it that would have been of use to her if she'd been staging.

      And yes, blood evidence in itself can't lie -- but an "expert" analyzing that evidence can certainly draw the wrong conclusions.

    2. IF Darlie did it, I think the most likely scenario is that she got away from the room the boys were in, cut herself over the kitchen sink, and then tried to clean up the evidence. This, of course, would have had to have happened after she took the blood stained sock down the alley.

      Is this what really happened? I don't know. I can't rule out her husband.


  3. I am also familiar with this case and have watched and read everything I could pertaining to it. It is, indeed, baffling and difficult to believe a mother could do this to her own children. However, I agree about blood evidence telling the story. There was just too much that didn't jive with what Darlie claimed happened.

    As far as laughing at the grave site (and I do realize we all grieve differently) as a mother myself, there could have been no way I would be able to even smile, let alone laugh, at that point or for a very long time afterwards.

    In my opinion, she is where she belongs.


    1. Sorry, but I can't get past the very serious throat wound, which could easily have killed her. The police concluded early on that is was "superficial," but it most certainly was NOT. That wound in itself speaks very strongly for her innocence.

  4. How 'bout Darin as the perp? At least he had a credible motive: Darlie was insured for $250K, he had financial problems, and Darin had committed insurance fraud in the past.

    1. Yes, CC, good thinking. There are some very good reasons to suspect Darin. I'll be going into that possibility in my next post.

  5. I don't, personally, like the blood evidence - particularly the idea that Darlie got blood spatter on her back from raising the knife for a strike.

    1. There are a great many reasons why that blood could have gotten where it did. Forensic "experts," like profilers, tend to lack imagination and have a tendency to draw conclusions based on what seems most likely to them, ignoring other possibilities.

    2. This particular "expert" contorted himself into a pretzel to, supposedly, demonstrate how Darlie could have gotten blood spatter onto her own back.

      IMO, the only intruder was one paid by Darin, or Darin himself.

    3. The blood splatter came from being overhead and stabbing downward, there was no pretzel like anything ? The blood spatter on Darlie Rroutier's shirt was A-typical of someone onthe ground being stabbed by someone above them, right down to the tails on the droplets all pointing the way you would expect them to in any downward stabbing. Regardless, there is no innocent or other explanation for blood splatter on Darlie Routiers back. None whatsoever.

  6. Is there another reasonable answer how a woman who claims to have been sleeping on her back, on a couch, while her boys are being stabbed to death gets their blood splatter onto her back ?
    Secondly, for whatever reason parts of that scene were staged that we do not know about, it still puts Darlie in the middle of the staging and thus involved in some way. There is no way around that
    I am not arguing that Darin is as shady as they come and possibly could be involved but the insurance scam was nothing more than a sham made up by the Routiers. The man, who years later was questioned if Darin ever came to him and ever even mentioned such a thing said no he had never heard nor had Darin brought up anything about it.

    I could probably dig up his interview with PI's on YouTube if anyone is interested.

    Darlie had written a suicide note shortly before this and I personally think this is a big clue into where her psyche was at the time.
    No one knew this and it just goes to show how easy it can be to hide a mental illness.
    If there is any possible scenario with the evidence that exists that eliminates Darlie from being involved at all, I would love to hear it.

    1. Darin arranged to have his car stolen for the insurance money a few years before the murders. He entertained the idea of having their home burgled while they were to be out of town in late 1996, asked Darlie's stepfather if he knew anyone who could do the job, but the murders intervened.

      Darlie's "suicide note" was written as a diary entry. She discussed it with her friend, Barbara Jondell, who alerted Darin, and Darin came home from work and discussed it with her.

  7. You are correct CC , however this story did not come out at all until many years after Darlie was convicted and needed new leads for her defense. Conveniently being one of her family members (her dad) of all people, who had this info and somehow decides to come forth with it years later. Why would Darin go to his wifes father of all people to have some stranger break into the house that his grandkids and daughter live in to do this ? It Makes no sense and was just another BS attempt to give Darlie wiggle room. If you believe this story I have a roomful of stocks to sell you, just send me a check.

    You are also correct on the suicide note, no argument here. The way it was worded was not something she was just contemplating however, it was an apology for her killing herself, which to me sounds to me like a lot more than her just considering it, she had made a decision to follow through and like I said, points to some pretty serious mental issues going on with Darlie at this time.

    1. Darlie's stepfather signed an affidavit attesting to the story, as did the PI, Rejas. Darin admitted it to The Texas Monthly. So yeah, I believe it, and no thanks - I'd never buy anything you're peddling.

  8. The one flaw in you thinking is you're right that Patsy was innocent but Amanda was not.

  9. Hey Doc, I emailed you a couple of years ago and asked you to look into this case, you didn't want to at the time. So glad you have changed your mind, I see little to no evidence of her guilt. Shocked she has not gotten a new trial.

  10. Wasn’t LE quick to pick her up because Texas had just had another mom killed kids murder-where the mom said someone carjacked her and took the kid when in reality the mom drowned her kids and car in a lake. It seemed like LE used that case as a reason to take Darlie in so quickly. Do you think that played a part in the jurors mind too when they convicted her—maybe they would have been more open minded had another mom kills kids murder hadn’t just happened...?

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