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Monday, December 22, 2008

Diane Downs Update

Remember Diane? She (played by Farrah Fawcett in the movie) was the "mother" who shot her three children because her married boyfriend (played by Ryan O'Neal in the movie) didn't want children. Ann Rule wrote a book that the movie was based on called "Small Sacrifices".

She went before the parole board last week and was denied. Imagine that! I read the transcript of her hearing and folks, it was scary. I came away from it feeling that either she is the craziest woman in the country OR (to play Devil's advocate) they hopped her up on some serious drugs before they allowed her to go in there. She brought a book with her to the hearing. It was a book of short stories about Angels. She repeatedly referred to this book as having evidence of a conspiracy surrounding her conviction. She stated often during the hearing that this book would exonerate her and prove to the world that she was rail roaded. Hmm.

Her father, Wes Fredickson, has a website ( dedicated to Diane wherein he pleads her innocence. He has also self published a book which is supposed to prove her innocence. As of this writing, he is being sued for the contents of it. I have read everything on that site and I will say he makes two interesting points. First, there was no residue on her and there were no blood splatters on her both of which would have indicated her as the shooter. I spent the better part of 4 hours trying to find out if those statements were true or not but couldn't find anything to either collaborate his statements or refute them.

Having said the above, I still feel she was guilty as hell and is exactly where she deserves to be. The rest of his site is dedicated to detailing "witness" statements who name the "real" shooter. They say this guy killed the kids because Diane owed him money.

Now, my problem with this is the fact that although Diane changed her story more often than she changed her underwear, three facts were always consistent and three facts alone. The location of the shooting, the location of the shooter (when she first saw him) and how she and her children happened to be in that spot at that moment.

The location was a lonely strip of a road. The location of the shooter when she first saw him is always that he was standing in the middle of the road in front of her car trying to flag her down. And the third consistency in her story(s) is that she, on the spur of the moment, decided to take this lonely strip of a road as a shortcut to get to another road.

My problem with this is simple. If the guy she owed money to was out to kill her children because of it, how in the hell did he know that she would be coming down that exact road, at that exact spot, at that exact time? I would come closer to believing this fairy tale IF Diane had stated that the guy was behind her. Then I could think he followed her. But in each and every tale she utters about that night, he is ALWAYS standing in the road in front of her car flagging her down. Unless this guy has teleporting powers, I don't see how this scenario could be possible.

Sometimes, it's not what a person changes about their story that tells you volumes. It's what they don't change and because of the above consistencies, I have no doubt that she is guilty.

I understand her father's pain and completely understand him wanting to convince SOMEONE that he could never have raised a daughter who would do this to her children. However, he needs to put it to rest. She did it. He needs to accept that fact and try to move forward from that standpoint. I am very sorry for him and her mother. I really am. I can't imagine being in their situation.

Back to Diane. When I googled her, it came up with 182,000 hits. When I googled John Gacy I got 110,000. WOW!

I think people are still intrigued by her for several reasons.

1. She was a mother of 3 small children (ages 2-6) who viciously and systematically shot each of them. One by one. In a moment of passion to shoot one person can sometimes be accepted (never a child but anyway) but to shoot 3 children who were in a car, it would require her to shoot the one sitting next to her, get out of the car, go around to the back door, open it, lean in, shoot another child. Then close the door, walk around the car, open the door, lean in, shoot the third child. Now also, it should be known that while she was shooting the other two the first child sitting in the front seat apparently opened the door and fell out of the car, still alive. Diane then had to go to her, pick her up, put her back into the car and then she shot her again. Now that's a LOT of effort to put into killing your own children. It was proven at court that she then drove 5 - 8 miles an hour to the hospital. She apparently wanted to make sure she didn't get there before she thought they were all dead because the ones in the back seat were still making "gurgling" noises.

The middle child, Cheryl, died. The oldest child, Christie is partially paralyzed on her left side after suffering a stroke from the massive loss of blood and the baby, Dan, is paralyzed from the waist down.

2. Diane was way past flamboyant and has always been described as being very pretty (I think she looked average but that's just my opinion). She made really good press. She loved the press and sought out attention anywhere she could get it. In an interview right after the shootings Diane was asked about her feelings regarding the incident. Diane stated: "Everybody says you sure were lucky. Well, I don't feel very lucky. I couldn't tie my damn shoes for
about two months. How's that for motherly concern? At the time of this interview, Cheryl was dead, Christie had suffered a debilitating stroke and Danny was paralyzed from the waist down for life and she is concerned that she couldn't tie her "damn shoes for about two months".

3. Another reason I think folks are still captivated is because the prosecuting attorney and his wife adopted the surviving children and raised them as their own.

During these years, Diane has escaped from prison, been put in the hole for trying to start a drug ring while in prison, been put in the hole for being physically and verbally abusive to the employees of the prison and has attempted on numerous times to contact her former lover and his wife, as well as, threatened the lives of her remaining children and their adoptive parents. Yeah, she's a real peach.

As I stated earlier, Diane Downs is exactly where she needs to be and she should never be free to walk the streets of any town ever again.

But that's just me.


Anonymous said...

i recently watched an episode on ID Discovery based upon this case and i read the book "Small Sacrafices" some time ago but it i recall correctly, although you are correct in that no gun shot residue was found, i dont think the test was completed but either Ann Rule detailed it in the book or i read it somewhere a bullet was found at a trailer which was shot by her gun and matched to those found in her children.

i may not be a "religious person" but when i read this book i was grateful, and hoped, that the wings of an angel sheltered those children offering their protection and it made me very happy that the officer involved from the very beginning became the adopted father.

Ernie said...

Thanks for the comment. I do recall about the bullet but had completely forgotten it until you mentioned it. Also, the people who adopted the two surviving children were actually the prosecuting attorney and his wife. I saw an update on them not long ago and both the kids have grown up well and are either college educated or working on getting their degree. Sometimes the worst events in our lives turn into the biggest blessings, sad to say.

Anonymous said...

I just reread the book about Diane Downs. I guess so many people are appalled by her, for the fact she could kill her own child and not ever admit her guilt. I hope she never gets out of prison for that reason.

Anonymous said...

i read the book & watched the film with farrah fawcett, if I remember correctly she was pregnant during her trial.

Ernie said...

You are 100% correct. She was pregnant by the time her trial started. This is a rather common "trick" that women on trial for murder do in the hopes that their pregnancy will garner sympathy from the jury. She has alleged the father of her child was a journalist but she has never given his name.

By her own admission, Diane loved being pregnant. Between the ages of 19 & 28 (when she was arrested) she reportedly was pregnant a total of 7 times. Her 3 children, a stillborn, a miscarriage and twice as a surrogate for money.

There have been "witnesses" who have come forward (at her father's request) and have identified the shooter as a man angry because Diane owed him money and hadn't paid. My problem with this is, if Diane owed money to him, she would then recognize him if she saw him face to face. So why then, didn't she tell the world?? She was on trial for her very life! I seriously doubt anyone would keep that information to themselves and risk getting life in prison (which is exactly what happened to her). Instead she has steadfastly maintained that she did not know the shooter and had never seen him before.

Thank you for your comments.

Tonya said...

Diane Downs is guilty as sin and has no remorse whatsoever. She proved how much she cared with stupid little comments about not being able to tie her shoes. Her children were SHOT and she sheds not a single tear, screams not a single time?? I have 3 children and I cannot even imagine such a tragedy! Diane is where she needs to be!

Ernie said...

I so agree with you, Tonya. I would be slap out of my mind had anything remotely similar happened to my children. Of course, everyone reacts differently to things. There have been scores of people arrested for vicious crimes simply because the officers didn't think that they reacted "normally" to the situation thus making them culpable. However, in Diane's situation, I have no doubt of her guilt. None whatsoever. Thank you for the comment.

Anonymous said...

this person was flat out a dark being in the guise of a human. there is no empathy in this person and their effect was that of a robot. thank the lord that those two children that survived managed to know some love in the home of the prosecutor and his wife. also, thank the lord that the baby born after the trial appears to be normal, rational and conscientious--everything that the birth mother never will be.

Anonymous said...

What I can't understand, is why her father, [I believe he was accused in court of molesting Diane. And would not help her or her children before the killings?], is now defending her, even after more evil deeds are done by her. I wonder about his sanity also.

Ernie said...

I agree with you "Anonymous". Her father is a piece of work. I have also wondered why he is so intent on defending her now. My only thought is that he is not really defending his daughter but rather he is defending his ability as a father. In other words as long as he professes her innocence then he didn't fail miserably as a father because he didn't raise a cold, callous murderer and lose his grandchildren in the process.

Ernie said...

Referring to the comment about her daughter born in jail being normal, I have seen this (now) woman on several talk shows. She has written a book and she appeared on a documentary I watched about children of murderers. I'm thinking she's not exactly normal. I get a feeling that she is more like her mother than any of the others - which is rather sad and scary. Sometimes the bloodline runs strong.

L.M. Lynn said...

Hi Ernie. I am really enjoying your blog that i just discovered today. What is it about the last daughter of Diane that makes you think she is the most like her mother? I say the documentary on her and thought she seemed ok. Now you have got me nervous!!!

Ernie said...

L.M. Lynn, thanks for your comment. I don't know her youngest daughter so I am basing my opinion solely on television and print interviews of her. Judging from those, it appears Becky may suffer the same emotional detachment that Diane suffers. The feeling that no matter what she does in this life, she will never truly be loved. This need for attention and constant reassurance. Becky was always kept from the spotlight as were Diane's other children. So why is it when she could very safely forever retain her privacy she decides to go public? Money isn't the answer since none of the interviews (or the documentary) she participated in paid much, if anything. The only other reason would be for the attention. Nothing pleased Diane more than attention and after the "incident" she absolutely courted the press and reveled in every second of their attention. That's why I made the comparison between the two. Thanks again for the comment and I hope to chat with you again.

kathleen said...

This woman is clearly f---d in the head and probably always was. I personally think she's got more than one personality disorder. I read the book thoroughly (as well as seeing the movie); and all I've read about Diane factually all prove to me she's always had one huge concern in her life--herself. Total narcissist, and I hope to hell she never gets out of prison.

Anonymous said...

I just read the book too and the woman who initially dressed Diane's arm said there was residue on her arm.

Anonymous said...

I just finish watching 20/20 and she is where she needs tobe I just wonder if rebecca the last child and the two other siblings ever meet

HI THERE! said...

This case has fascinated me for some years. One thing I noticed was this: "pick her up, put her back into the car" - I believe the blood spatter on the outside of the car suggests Diane shot Cheryl the second time while she was still outside it, then put her back in the seat before 'allegedly' speeding to the hospital.
Also, I thought it was Christie's right side affected by the stroke, while her left hand had to heal from the gunshot. The poor kid couldn't use either hand!!
I'm confused about where Christie was sitting. In Ann Rule's novel it says she was in the right rear seat, but Christie testified she sat behind the driver's seat. I tried finding out if she referred to their trip the beach a week before then, but she described the night of the shooting.
.. just a few questions for ya! :-)
Oh yes, and I remember the debris in Diane's wound. There was some black stuff cleaned out of it. I don't know why her hands were free of it, tho'. That's weird, but then so is how a beach towel just happened to neatly wrap itself around her arm. Maybe she had the towel around her hand before shooting? No one could say the 'black stuff' on her arm couldn't also have been on the towel, perhaps coincidentally in the same spot. It would have been before she shot her own arm too, so it's possible she put it on the wound.
Great Job on the Blog! Keep it up. Do you have any pics?

Ernie said...

First I'd like to thank all of you for your comments! I'm a little behind on responding so please allow me to just respond to each in one comment.

1. Have the three kids met? Don't hold me to this but I seem to remember seeing Becky (the youngest) in an interview and she said she had met the other two but at this point they do not have a close bond but she is hoping in time that will form.

2. Residue on her arm but none on her hands? Residue is a funny thing. Books, TV & the movies would like us to believe that if you shot a gun there will be residue. That is not always the case in real life. Also, sometimes the residue will not be on your hands but perhaps on your arms or face or other part of your body depending on how the gun was held and how close to the body it was. Residue is blown and travels in the air. Any breeze or change in the breeze can affect if and where it lands on the shooter. Also, residue can be washed away or rubbed off. This is the very reason that the police bag a suspected shooters hands - to prevent the residue from falling off or being rubbed off.

3. How did the towel get wrapped neatly that she placed on her arm? Experts believe that the murders was a premeditated one. Diane planned this murder for days (possibly weeks). She bought the unicorn for the kids as a memorial, she took them to the beach and out to see the horses as a last good time on this earth before they were killed. Having said this, she most likely folded the towel and placed it on her dash in preparation for when she would have to shoot herself in the arm.

4. As for her having a personality disorder, she was indeed diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I had thought she would have a sociopathic diagnosis but I have never interviewed her so her doctor certainly knew more than me.

5. Someone mentioned the location of Christie in the car. Although Ann Rule wrote that Christie was in the passenger rear of the car, Christie placed herself behind the drivers seat rear of the car. While I highly respect Ann Rule, I'm going to have to go with whatever Christie says in this matter since she was actually there.

6. Another thing that was brought up by you was the impression that Christie was shot inside the car and again outside the car. This is true. When Diane leaned in the car and shot Christie, she thought she had killed her. Diane then went around the car to shoot the other children but before she could do this, Christie opened the car door and fell out onto the road. Diane then walked back around the car, put another bullet into Christie and placed her back inside the car. She then methodically continued her shooting spree.

Again, thank you all for your comments. I appreciate each of them.

Anonymous said...

"6. Another thing that was brought up by you was the impression that Christie was shot inside the car and again outside the car. This is true. When Diane leaned in the car and shot Christie, she thought she had killed her. Diane then went around the car to shoot the other children but before she could do this, Christie opened the car door and fell out onto the road. Diane then walked back around the car, put another bullet into Christie and placed her back inside the car. She then methodically continued her shooting spree."

Sorry but I think you mean Cheryl.

Ernie said...

Ahhhh, I think you are right! I did indeed mean Cheryl. Thank you for catching that!

Anonymous said...

rebecca has serious issues. nothing about her is "ok" instead of just keeping her secret she went public to say "LOOK AT ME!!!!!! IM SO WONDERFUL!! POOR POOR ME MY MOMMY IS A KILLER AND I HATE IT!!!! BUT INSTEAD OF JUST NOT MENTIONING IT, I THINK ILL GO TO MAGAZINES AND REPORTERS AND SHOUT IT FROM A MOUNTAIN TOP!!!!SO EVERYONE KNOWS!!! HA HA HA HA HA!! IM A FREAK JUST LIKE MY MOM, YAY!!OH, SORRY, I MEAN BOOHOO BOOHOO, PITY ME PITY ME PITY ME PLEASE!! AND WHILE U PITY ME PUT ALL MY BUSINESS ON TV AND IN NEWSPAPERS AND IN MAGAZINES AND OMFG DONT FORGET FACEBOOK!!!!!" shes a freak, idc what anyone says that woman going public, was nothing less than the video of her mother reenacting the attack on her kids!! happy giggly smiley and completely psycho everyone look at my ugly ass.

Ernie said...

Anonymous: I agree that she had complete and total anonymity until SHE came forward and began doing her talk show circuit and agreed to appear on the documentary about children of murderers. She does appear to have much of her mothers' driving need for attention and sympathy.

Espana said...

Unbelieveable that this actually happened. This is the second time I have read this book and it still facinates me to the point where I cant put it down. I am looking forward to reading more Ann Rule 'True Crime' novels.

Anonymous said...

dianes dad said on the night this happenedit looks like diane didit wes said he told the cops that night the kids are shot in the chest and diane is right handed and shes shot in the left arm

Ernie said...

You are right. Her dad inititally supported the assumption that she had committed this horrendous crime. However, it didn't take him long to come around to support Diane and profess to believe her incredible string of lies. As of 2 years ago (the last time I checked) he ran a website devoted to bringing the "real" shooter to justice. He even goes so far as to show photo's of the "shooter" and give names and details about him. If you want to pursue it the address is: Thanks for the comment!

Luanne said...

I just finished the book, Small Sacrifices. Concerning the gunshot residue, I remember reading that a nurse or receptionist saw Diane wash her hands right after she entered the hospital. I still can't understand why she didn't have blood spatter on her. However, I am certain of her guilt. No mother behaves as she did following a tragedy of this magnitude.

Sue Harviel said...

Luanne: It has been surmised that Diane didn't have blood splatter on her clothing due to the fact that she stood outside the car when she shot the child located in the front passenger seat. The interior of the vehicle would have caught the majority (if not all) of the splatter. When she shot the children in the back seat, she actually leaned over the front seat to shoot them thus effectively shielding her from any splatter. The reason Diane feels no remorse is because she is completely incapable of feeling love for anyone. What she thought was love for her married boyfriend (I feel) was simply want. The same kind of fervent want that a person might get when they see a new car on the market that they just have to have! Her children were just accessories and something to keep her company when she didn't have anyone else. When she was done with them, she thought nothing at all about discarding them the same way you or I might toss out an old purse. Quite frightening. Thank you for your comment.