Murderous Moms: Did Silly String Send Darlie Routier to Death Row?
ROWLETT, TX — In the wee hours of June 6, 1995, 26-year-old mother-of-three Darlie Routier screamed in horror. Two of her three sons — Damon, age 5, and Devon, age 6 — had been stabbed to death.
Routier, too, had been knifed in the neck during a struggle, she said, with a home invader who subsequently fled into the night.
Eight days after the murders, though, a video emerged of Routier breaking out a can of Silly String. It proved to be an act that seemed, in some courts of popular opinion, to portray her as depraved enough to have savagely slaughtered her two children.
The Silly String incident occurred on what would have been Devon’s seventh birthday. The video depicts Routier and other family members visiting the dead boys’ adjacent graves, which are covered with balloons, and essentially having a party.
In addition, Routier is clearly seen on the tape laughing, joking, chewing gum, all of which leads up to her jubilantly spraying Silly String all over her sons’ final resting places.
Local news stations aired that home-video footage nonstop. Later, during Routier’s trial, the jury watched it in court no less than seven times.
Initially, police bought Routier’s story about an outsider attacking her family while her husband Darin and seven-month-old Drake, the couple’s third (and only surviving) child, slept upstairs.
On June 18, though, four days after the Silly String video scandalized seemingly all who saw it, officers arrested Darlie Routier and charged her with the murders of Damon and Devin. The authorities cited no witnesses, no motive, no confession, and, early on, no real evidence.
What everyone involved did keep citing, though, was that Silly String.
Chief among those blasting the video was Dallas County assistant district attorney Greg Davis, who later said:
“Here’s a mother who has supposedly been the victim of a violent crime. She has just lost two children, and yet she’s out literally dancing on their graves.”
An eight-month trial followed. Prosecutors portrayed Routier as a pampered hedonist who killed her kids over fears that they would be too much of a financial burden.
In addition, the state presented a letter from Routier addressed to her three sons in which she asked them to “forgive me for what I am about to do.” Routier said she wrote that while she was contemplating suicide.
Ultimately, the prosecution proposed that, after stabbing her boys, Darlie staged the break-in scene by cutting open a garage window screen, planting a bloody sock in an alley, and slashing her own throat.
Defense lawyers countered that any such theory was preposterous, noting that Darlie would have trailed blood all over had she attempted that fakery. They also kept pointing out her lack of motive.
The accused mom did not help her case, though, by taking the stand where, under cross-examination, she “withered” and ended up claiming she had amnesia. And of course, as noted, the Silly String video got played over and over again.
It all resulted in the jury proclaiming Routier guilty and sentencing her to death. Afterward, Darlie Kee, Routier’s mother, said: “They ended up deliberating on the Silly String. Silly String is not a lethal weapon.”
Darlie Routier has been incarcerated for more than 20 years now. She has never once stopped proclaiming her innocence.
Over the past two decades, Router’s attorneys have filed multiple appeals and won some rulings regarding DNA evidence. A growing movement to get a new trial continues to gain ground.
In regard to the Silly String video, in 2015, Routier told ABC News:
“[Devon] wanted to be seven. I did the only thing I knew to do to honor him and give him all his wishes because he wasn’t here anymore. But how do you know what you’re going to do when you lose two children? How do you know how you’re going to act?”
Those are questions perhaps only Routier herself can answer.
For more on the Darlie Routier case, watch the “Kill Their Own” episode of Investigation Discovery’s Deadly Women on ID GO now!