Diane Downs

Topics: Crime, Criminology, Assault Pages: 5 (2195 words) Published: May 2, 2013
A Mother Shoots Her Three Children
What causes a mother to shoot her three children? Throughout this paper we will try and establish some theories on what might have caused this mother to commit such a criminal act. I feel that I should first give some background on what we will be discussing. I have chosen to do my paper on a female murderer named Diane Downs. She was convicted of murder, attempted murder, and criminal assault for the shooting of her three children. The incident took place on Thursday, May19, 1983 in Springfield, Oregon at approximately 10:48 p.m. She was driving a red Nissan that had Arizona license plates. She pulled into a hospital emergency room bay screaming that “Somebody just shot my kids!” The site of the blood soaked car and the three children that lay in the middle of it all was a nightmare for the staff at the hospital. One child, Cheryl 7, who was sitting in the front seat, was already dead and beyond help, a second child, Christie 8, who was sitting in the back seat of the car, was still breathing, and the third child, Daniel 3, also sitting in the back seat and barely breathing. Diane herself had been shot in the arm. The doctors were able to save the two children Christie who would have partial paralysis, and Daniel who would be paralyzed from the waist down. Diane had gone to see a friend; she decided to take a more scenic route home. She claimed that a “bushy haired man” wearing Levi jacket with an off colored t-shirt was standing in the middle of the gravel road waving as if he needed help. So she braked to inquire, he asked for the keys to her car when she told him no he then pointed his gun through her car window and opened fire on her children. As she was trying to get away he fired another shot into her arm. At this point the investigators were starting to get suspicious because they thought her manner during the incident was to calm for a person who had just experienced this type of traumatic event. When given the unfortunate news about Cheryl and the other two children her attitude remained calm and rational, this stunned the hospital personnel who were expecting her to go into hysterics. When she was told about Danny‘s chance of surviving her reply was “Do you mean the bullet missed his heart? Gee whiz!” Investigators are now trying to put the forensic evidence together to see what kind of killer they should be looking for, but none of the pieces seem to be fitting. From the story of the carjacker to the reaction her daughter was having when Diane was in the room. So investigators decided to start evaluating everything and everyone from the beginning. They started with why she was on that road and why she stopped to talk to a stranger. One homicide detective found her like no other women he had encountered after a similar crisis. Another detective found her very stoic for a mother whose entire brood was just shot. When forensics went through her car they found shell casings that were fired from a .22 caliber, either from a handgun or a rifle. Powder burns found on the children’s skin indicated that the weapon was fired from an extremely close range. Evidence of blood spatter indicated that the gun was fired from the left side of the car (driver’s side). When Diane was allowed to see her daughter Christie the doctors got concerned when the visit sent her heart rate higher. At this point the investigators had to wait until Christie was well enough to tell them her story. Diane’s childhood began on August 7, 1955 in Phoenix, Arizona. Her parents Willadene and Wes Frederickson named her Elizabeth Diane Frederickson. At one point she tried to claim her father molested her as a child, but later recant the accusation. At fourteen she changed her name to Diane Frederickson. In school she was bright, but not one of the in-crowd. Her parent’s had old-time-Baptist ways and were very strict with their disciplining. At fourteen she was enrolled in a charm school where she met the...

References: Walsh, Anthony. Criminology The Essentials, 2012.Print.
Rule, Ann. Small Sacrifices. 1989. Print.
Geringer, Joseph. Crime Library, Criminal Minds and Methods. 2013. Print
Bianco, Juan Ignacio. Murderpedia. 2013. Print
Frederickson, Wes. Diane Downs: Murderer or Victim. 2013. Print
Montaldo, Charles. About.Com: Crime/Punishment. 2013. Print
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