UPDATE: Notorious Child Killer Diane Downs Must Wait 10 More Years Before She Applies For Parole Again

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Normal UPDATE: Notorious Child Killer Diane Downs Must Wait 10 More Years Before She Applies For Parole Again

Post by Nama on Sat May 15, 2010 1:17 am

Becky Babcock: A Girl's Fight to Escape her Mother's Crimes

On June 17, 1984, Diane Downs was found guilty of shooting her three children, killing one. She was sentenced to life plus 50 years for the crimes.

Daughter of infamous child killer Diane Downs tries to overcome mom's legacy.

But as Downs was about to begin her new life behind bars, she brought new life into the world.

Just days after her conviction, Diane gave birth to a daughter. The baby girl was whisked away hours after delivery.

The baby was secretly driven to a hotel room and given to her adoptive parents, Jackie and Chris Babcock.

"Oh, gosh, she was adorable," Jackie Babcock told "20/20" in a recent interview. She was the typical little perfect baby."


The Babcocks knew the child they were to adopt was Diane Downs'. They followed the mother's murder trial carefully. When their new daughter arrived -- it was their second adoption -- they named her Rebecca.

The couple watched their new daughter for signs of emotional disturbance, they said. "I think we kind of maybe subconsciously watched for any signs of anything unusual," said Jackie Babcock.

Becky Babcock grew up in a beautiful house in Bend, Oregon, only 100 miles -- but a world away -- from the legacy of her birth mother. It was a childhood straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

"We were always hiking, biking, traveling," Becky Babcock said in a recent interview. "It was very family-oriented as we were growing up. I was taught right from wrong."

Becky always knew she was adopted, and at an early age, she began to ask about her parentage.

"I was about 8 years old when I started probing my mother for information," said Babcock, whose story appears in this month's Glamour magazine.


Jackie Babcock thought it best to give her daughter vague answers. "I told her that her mom was in jail," said the adoptive mother. "I didn't give her any details as to why. That's too much for an 8-year-old to take on."

Becky Babcock was adopted at birth and grew up not knowing the details of her mother's crimes. The discovery would throw her into crisis as a teenager.


The Babcocks were determined to keep Becky's parentage a secret from her. But when she was still in preschool, the unthinkable happened. Authorities called to say Diane Downs had escaped from prison.

Jackie Babcock said she was forced to reveal Becky's secret to a small group of people. "We didn't know what [Downs] would do," she said. "The precautions that we took were to let people know... that were coming in contact with Becky, her daycare person, her babysitter... for Becky's own safety."

Diane Downs had vowed for years that she would get her children back. In fact she seems never to have gone after them. After a 10-day manhunt, police arrested her in a small apartment where she was staying with a fellow inmate's husband, less than a mile from the prison.

The secret was out, but Becky didn't know -- yet. Then, when she was 11 years old, Becky tricked her babysitter into telling her details about her birth mother.

"I asked the babysitter and I made it sound as if I knew," Babcock said. "And so my babysitter's like, 'Oh, you know about Diane Downs?' And that's how I found out."

Years later, a boyfriend whom Becky had let in on her secret invited her over to watch a movie, "Small Sacrifices." The film was based on her mother's life.

Becky Babcock's Hunt for Identity
Jackie Babcock thought it best to give her daughter vague answers. "I told her that her mom was in jail," said the adoptive mother. "I didn't give her any details as to why. That's too much for an 8-year-old to take on."

Becky Babcock was adopted at birth and grew up not knowing the details of her mother's crimes. The discovery would throw her into crisis as a teenager.

The Babcocks were determined to keep Becky's parentage a secret from her. But when she was still in preschool, the unthinkable happened. Authorities called to say Diane Downs had escaped from prison.

Jackie Babcock said she was forced to reveal Becky's secret to a small group of people. "We didn't know what [Downs] would do," she said. "The precautions that we took were to let people know... that were coming in contact with Becky, her daycare person, her babysitter... for Becky's own safety."

Diane Downs had vowed for years that she would get her children back. In fact she seems never to have gone after them. After a 10-day manhunt, police arrested her in a small apartment where she was staying with a fellow inmate's husband, less than a mile from the prison.

The secret was out, but Becky didn't know -- yet. Then, when she was 11 years old, Becky tricked her babysitter into telling her details about her birth mother.

"I asked the babysitter and I made it sound as if I knew," Babcock said. "And so my babysitter's like, 'Oh, you know about Diane Downs?' And that's how I found out."

Years later, a boyfriend whom Becky had let in on her secret invited her over to watch a movie, "Small Sacrifices." The film was based on her mother's life.

Becky had no idea what she was about to watch. She recently recalled the waves of emotion.

"Disgust, sadness," Babcock said. "It became real at that point. The part that shows when I was born, it's as close as I'd ever come to witnessing my own birth. And to be born of a monster is... not something I'm proud of."

Becky Babcock's Teen Years: I Was Wild
For a young woman already struggling with her identity, the discovery was devastating. Babcock said that once she knew the blood of Diane Downs was inside her, she began to mimic her birth mother's impulsive behavior.

"Throughout my teen years, I was wild... and after the movie, it escalated," Babcock said. "I dropped out of high school. I slept around with a lot of people. And I did a lot of harsh drugs. I had no concern for myself."

Things got so bad that Jackie Babcock kicked Becky out of the house. Even Becky's closest friend, Kaylee Hammond, worried that nature was winning over nurture.

"I was worried that she could turn out like her biological mom," Hammond said.

When Becky was 17, she got pregnant and became a teenage mother -- as Diane Downs had been. When her son, Christian, was 3 years old, Becky got pregnant again.

During her second pregnancy, Becky Babcock was broke, homeless and living in a women's shelter. She decided to put her baby up for adoption.

"I couldn't raise another baby and do that to the son I already had," Babcock said. "We picked the most amazing family I could possibly think of."

Babcock felt lost after the adoption, she said. She began to think about her birth mother. Had Downs felt this same emptiness when she gave Becky away? For the first time, Babcock felt a need to connect.

"I thought about, you know, Diane and that was the one and only time I have ever had compassion for that woman," Babcock said.

Babcock decided to reach out to Diane Downs -- her birth mother, whom she calls a monster -- in prison.

Becky Babcock Contacts Diane Downs
Babcock still has the first letter she sent Downs. "I don't know if you're going to believe me," she wrote. "You probably won't. But I believe that I may possibly be your biological daughter." She also sent photographs of herself.

Downs quickly responded. Her first letter was welcoming and warm. But after several letters, Downs' tone changed. Over the course of six letters, Downs' paranoia and psychosis came into full view.

"Just know that someone very powerful has been watching over you all your life for me," Downs wrote in one letter. In another she wrote: "If you love your little boy, you'll take him far from here." Babcock decided to cut off all contact.

"I wrote her a letter," Babcock said. "I said, 'I'm sorry. Please stop writing me.'"

The exchange of letters left Babcock shaken. "I wish I was born of my real parents," she said. "My adopted parents. But I was born of a child killer. People judge me for that."

"Never," she said. "I tried to make myself think about it once. It made me physically sick to think about hurting my child in any way. Mothers are put on this earth to take care of their children. It's our job."

Babcock recently emerged to tell her story, which appears in this month's issue of Glamour. She says she wants to help other children whose parents have committed heinous crimes.

Babcock, the high school dropout, is now a straight-A college student who hopes to go to medical school -- in addition to being a loving mother. She said we all write our own stories, despite our past.


"Being taken away from [Downs] was the best thing that could have ever happened," she said. "It's been quite a journey. There's been ups and downs. I fell off the path for awhile. But I am going to do great things."
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Normal Re: UPDATE: Notorious Child Killer Diane Downs Must Wait 10 More Years Before She Applies For Parole Again

Post by Wrapitup on Sat May 15, 2010 7:55 am

Loved reading that, BJ. It' so nice to read something that ends up positive!!

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Normal Re: UPDATE: Notorious Child Killer Diane Downs Must Wait 10 More Years Before She Applies For Parole Again

Post by Guest on Sat May 15, 2010 9:45 am

I read the book "Small Sacrifices" and watched the movie.
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Normal Re: UPDATE: Notorious Child Killer Diane Downs Must Wait 10 More Years Before She Applies For Parole Again

Post by lisette on Sat May 15, 2010 10:38 am

I wondered about the two children that she shot but that survived (one girl died). I remembered that one of the prosecutors adopted them...This is something that I found from May, 2008:

Christie still lives in Springfield, with her husband
and toddler son. She graduated from Thurston High School before going
on to college. Dan Hugi graduated from Marist High School and, despite
his paralysis, competed on the school swim team before heading off to
college. Hugi retired from the district attorney’s office in 1997.
None of the three has ever spoken publicly about the case and did not
respond to requests for interviews.

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I missed the 20/20 interview with Becky Babcock last night. I wonder if she has any contact with these other children.

Another more recent update on Christie and Danny:


Christie—who testified against her mother—is now 33 and a social worker. Danny—who remains partially paralyzed from the shooting—turns 27 on Dec. 29, and is working as a computer specialist. Both kids were adopted by the original special prosecutor for the case. Neither child chose to maintain communication with Downs, aside from a brief visit shortly after Christie turned 18.

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Post by concerned4all on Sat May 15, 2010 12:32 pm

Thanks BJ & Lissette for this update. I had never heard anything about these 3 kids since the trial. I'm so glad they all turned out so great, and are living very normal lives. Just goes to show, love is thicker than blood.
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Post by raine1953 on Sat May 15, 2010 1:45 pm

Hi Lisette, I saw the 20/20 episode last night, it was very good but except for showing the kids back in 1986, there was no mention of them. The prosecutor who adopted them was on there, he was the one giving the history on the case (thank God for that saint of a man adopting those kids!). There were many clips of Diane (before/during the trial) and some that I don't think (or don't remember) seeing before and she's even more bizarre than I remember!
I read Small Sacrifices too LindaMarie as soon as Ann Rule released it and saw the movie - such a sad case.
Lisette, thank you so much for the update on the kids! I didn't know anything on them and had been wondering last night.
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Normal Diane Downs Maintains Her Innocence

Post by Nama on Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:49 am

Convicted child murderer Diane Downs, who was denied parole earlier this year, has written a 12 page letter to the parole board, once again maintaining her innocence.

Downs was found guilty of murder and attempted murder after alleging that she and her children were shot during a car jacking in 1984.

Evidence at the time concluded that Downs shot herself and her three children. One of the three children, a seven year old, died.

Police believe that Downs attempted to kill her children after becoming involved with a married man who did not want her children.

When questioned about the incident, survivor and oldest daughter Christie implicated her mother in the incident.

Downs has twice been denied parole.

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Post by Nama on Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:54 am


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Post by Wrapitup on Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:41 am

I highly doubt she will be paroled due to her daughter testifying against her as a witness.

Everytime I think of Diane Downs, I think of Farrah. Can't help it.

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Normal Child killer Diane Downs has Friday parole hearing/Parole was denied

Post by lisette on Tue Dec 07, 2010 11:47 am

Child killer Downs has Friday parole hearing

by Associated Press
Posted on December 6, 2010 at 5:25 PM
Updated yesterday at 5:30 PM
SALEM -- Prosecutors are using a new state law lengthening the gap between parole hearings to keep convicted child killer Diane Downs from coming before the board again for a decade.
Downs, whose conviction for shooting her three children and killing one outside Springfield in 1984 inspired the Ann Rule book "Small Sacrifices," is scheduled for a parole hearing Friday. The 55-year-old has been locked up more than 25 years for the shootings.
State law had required release hearings every two years for more than 1,500 prison inmates eligible for parole consideration, but a new law that took effect last January lengthened that time to up to 10 years on a case-by-case basis.
Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner singled her out in a recent letter to the parole board, saying that "offenders such as Downs are precisely why" the law was amended by the 2009 Legislature, the Statesman Journal reported.
"Downs is well aware of the likelihood that she will never be paroled. As such, she has used the parole hearings process as a means of publicizing her latest revelations and conspiracy accusations, rather than as a means of seeking rehabilitation," he said.
At her first parole hearing in December 2008, Downs provided baffling testimony, portraying herself as the victim of conspirators out to get her and her family. The board ruled that she still posed a danger to society and must remain in prison.
Gardner is urging the board to refuse parole for Downs again and suspend any further parole consideration for a decade. "As the board is well aware, Downs has made absolutely no progress over the past 26 years in her acknowledgment and understanding of the factors which motivated her to shoot her three young children," Gardner wrote in the letter.
"To the contrary, she continues to fabricate new bizarre versions of the murder and attempted murders," he said.
In September, Downs stuck to her claim of innocence when interviewed for a dangerous offender report prepared by the Oregon Department of Corrections. The report said "she will never stop looking for the man who committed the crime."
The parole law was changed after prosecutors, crime-victim advocates and family members of violent crime victims successfully lobbied legislators last year to limit parole hearings. They said, in part, that it was too painful for victims and relatives to attend parole hearings every two years.
The law approved by legislators has been sparingly used, according to parole board data obtained by the Statesman Journal. Since April, the board has denied parole for 49 of the 69 inmates who came up for release hearings. Of those 49 inmates, nine of them -- or 13 percent -- were told they must wait longer than two years for their next parole hearings.
The hearing Friday will take place in Salem, but Downs will testify via video from Chowchilla, Calif., where she is incarcerated at the Valley State Prison for Women.

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Normal Re: UPDATE: Notorious Child Killer Diane Downs Must Wait 10 More Years Before She Applies For Parole Again

Post by lisette on Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:15 pm

Diane Downs denied parole; maintains innocence 26 years after murder
Reported by: Kyle Mallory
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Last Update: 1:05 pm
Convicted killer Diane Downs was denied parole again Friday, but this time she'll have to wait 10 years for her next hearing.

The 55-year-old Downs appeared before a parole board via video from a Sacramento prison cell Friday morning, after initially saying she wouldn't appear.

Downs was convicted in 1984 for killing her 7-year-old daughter and injuring her two other children. She has maintained her innocence throughout, saying an unknown man flagged her down while she was driving and opened fire inside the car.

Downs was charged with attempting to escape prison in April of 1994, but appealed the ruling and Sacramento removed it from her record.

The first questions from the parole board got right to the heart of the matter: "Are you still innocent?"

"Absolutely, I didn't commit them (the crimes) and I still maintain my innocence," Downs said.

Downs described the night her children were shot, that a man flagged her down while she was driving to meet an alleged FBI imposter.

According to Downs, the man told her he wanted the car, then leaned inside the vehicle and began shooting.

The parole board chair questioned Downs about different versions of the crime she has told throughout the years.

Downs countered that police were trying to push her into a corner to say something that would incriminate her.

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Normal Notorious Child Killer Diane Downs Must Wait 10 More Years Before She Applies For Parole Again

Post by NiteSpinR on Tue May 21, 2013 10:03 pm

December 11, 2010

On Friday, for the second time in two years, Oregon's parole board denied release to Elizabeth Diane Downs -- and this time the state's notorious child killer will not get another chance at parole for a decade.

By then, she will be 65. If that bothered her, Downs did not let it show. Appearing on a flat-screen TV via video link from California where she is in prison, she responded almost cheerfully to the board's decision. "Yes," she said, she understood.

Downs, who murdered her daughter and shot her two other young children in 1983, appeared calm and collected during most of the session. She didn't fidget. She rarely raised her voice. She spoke in a calm, matter-of-fact tone. But her testimony, as in the past, often slipped down side roads of explanations about the mystery man she claims carried out her crimes.

In her latest version, she linked the shooting to a boyfriend named Rick. She said he claimed to be an FBI agent and that someone called her that night to take photos to him. Although she and her children were watching the "Helen Keller Story," she packed them up and took a drive, encountering a stranger near Springfield who tried to carjack them and then shot her children.

She also said the prosecutor in the case, Fred Hugi, knew she was innocent.

"I believe Fred Hugi believes there's a man out there who is hunting my children," she said. "There are people who know and to them it's a game. It's a sicko game."

After Downs' conviction, Hugi and his wife adopted her two surviving children, Stephen Daniel "Danny," then 3, and Christie Ann, who was 8. Downs shot her third child, 7-year-old Cheryl Lynn, to death.

But she still denies that. "I didn't commit (those crimes) and I still maintain my innocence," she insisted.

Downs might just believe that, said Doug Welch, the lead investigator in the case who is now retired. He was one of the few members of the public at the hearing, held at Chemeketa Community College.

He said Downs appeared much the same as when he first interviewed her the night of the shooting: emotionless and rambling.

"That entire night there wasn't a tear," he said.

Downs didn't show any grief when speaking of her children at the hearing either. In fact, her flat tone when discussing how the prosecutor re-enacted shooting "the Christie doll and the Cheryl doll and the Danny doll" at her 1984 trial stunned board member Candace Wheeler.

"You talk about your kids in a cold, emotionless manner," Wheeler said. Downs later responded, saying she was affected by the loss of her children. "I live with it every day," she said. "I can't talk about my children. I have to internalize it. It's become my private grief."

But Downs did shed a few tears during the hearing -- when speaking of her elderly parents. She said her father was 80 and had suffered a stroke. She said she feared they would be hounded by the public and media if she were released and they all lived together at their home in Texas.

"Allow us to transfer to another state," she pleaded. "I love my parents. My dad needs me to take care of him."

She said her parents still give her an allowance of $95 a month. "I'm the oldest kid on the block," she said.

Downs, an inmate at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, Calif., spoke about the difficulty of being in prison, saying she needed to be paranoid to protect herself. She also maintained that now she's "peaceful, quiet, calm, laid-back."

And she said, for the first time, that her fourth child, who was born after her conviction, was conceived by artificial insemination.

She again denied that Rebecca Babcock, who has told her story to ABC's "20/20" television show, Glamour magazine and the "Oprah Show," is her child.

Her testimony -- and the board's questions -- took just under two hours. Then the three officials deliberated about 20 minutes. Their decision to decline parole was unanimous, said board chair Aaron Felton.

Downs has a "mental or emotional" disorder, he said, that makes her "a danger to the health of safety" of others.

The three-member board split on extending Downs' next hearing for a decade, with one member calling for eight years. The majority won out.

In the past, an inmate had a right to a new parole hearing in two years, but an Oregon law that took effect this year allows for a decade delay. Among 49 prisoners denied parole since April, the board has given only four inmates, including Downs, a 10-year wait.

Welch welcomed the decision. "I'm pleased with the outcome," he said. "She got life plus 50. Let her do life."

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