Friday, April 12

Diane Downs documentary: 5 chilling revelations about a murderous mother on ABC 20/20, from strange jail letters to a ‘scary’ book


THESE are the five most chilling documentary details about Diane Downs, from the murderous mother’s bizarre jail terms to a “scary book.”

Viewers of ABC’s 20/20 true crime documentary on Diane Downs have gotten a deeper look into the mother’s life.

Viewers of ABC's 20/20 documentary on Diane Downs, pictured, have gotten a deeper look into the life of the murderous mother.

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Viewers of ABC’s 20/20 documentary on Diane Downs, pictured, have gotten a deeper look into the life of the murderous mother.Credit: AP
Becky Babcock's biological mother is Diane Downs

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Becky Babcock’s biological mother is Diane DownsCredit: ABCNews

The documentary comes as Downs, who has given birth to four children, is serving a life sentence for horrific crimes she committed against her own children.

Downs launched a violent attack on three of his children, Danny, Cheryl Lynn and Christie Anne in 1983.

Their fourth baby, Amy Elizabeth, was adopted and named Becky Babcock.

Downs was eventually convicted of one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder and felonious assault in 1984.

She was sentenced to life in prison and an additional 50 years after shooting her three children, killing one. And he won’t meet with the parole board again until 2025.

Despite her troubled past and remaining in jail, her daughter Babcock decided to send letters to her birth mother in prison.

LETTERS FROM JAIL

Becky Babcock, the fourth and youngest daughter of Downs, explained in the documentary THE SINS OF MY MOTHER the reasoning behind why he began writing letters to his imprisoned mother.

Babcock recalled being “irresponsible, partying too much and jumping from man to man” in her teens, revealing that she felt “it was hard to accept my genetic makeup”.

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She said that after “being a teenager” after the birth of her first child, she made the “hardest decision” to put her second child up for adoption.

“I wanted to know how he felt, if he loved me, if he wanted me… if he connected with me before he gave me up for adoption,” Babcock explained.

“I wanted to relate to her… not as a mother because I had a mother, but as someone who shared the pain and emptiness I felt at that moment.”

She said that opening her mother’s letter in October 2006 was like “Pandora’s box” as she “chose” to allow her mother into her life.

However, after exchanging words, Babcock said that the letters “kept coming in and they were bizarre, to say the least”.

Babcock said the letters “progressively got crazier and crazier,” something he noted after asking about his biological father.

“He started writing about people who want to hurt me and
She told me that if I loved my little boy, I would take him away from there,” Babcock continued.

The letters finally led her to realize that her mother was crazy.

‘SCARY’ BOOK

When Babcock was a child, she tricked her nanny into saying her birth mother’s name, prompting her to search Barnes and Nobles to find a true crime book his mother, revealed the documentary.

After finding the book, he said: “I opened it up and looked at a picture of Diane Downs sitting at a table.

“It was a face I had been looking for and it wasn’t a face I wanted to see.

“The cold look in his eyes scared me and to see his hands, which you know were just like mine, and reality set in… that’s what gave birth to me.”

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“It was terrifying, I slammed the book shut and left,” Babcock recounted after seeing her mother’s photo.

PRISON ESCAPE

On July 11, 1987, a Saturday morning, Downs escaped from a women’s prison by climbing a 12- to 15-foot-high chain-link fence around the detention center.

She successfully escaped from the Oregon Women’s Correctional Center and wore clothes to prevent the barbed wire fence from hurting her, according to ABC News.

Police found her ten days later living with the husband of another inmate.

Downs was recaptured in Salem, Oregon on July 21.

He received an additional five-year sentence for the escape.

Downs and some members of his family continue to maintain their innocence, claiming that a convicted felon has confessed to shooting the children.

He is in jail in California after being denied parole in 2008 and 2010.

‘SURREAL’ BEHAVIOR

Dr. Steven Wilhite spoke in the documentary about his interaction with Downs at the hospital.

“His behavior was flat. Not a tear, even though he knew Cheryl was dead,” he said.

Wilhite later added: “When I was done caring for Christie, I looked up her mother. And to my complete surprise, Diane was not emotional …not a tear in his eyes.

“And then he’s like, ‘I really wrecked my new car… I’ve got blood all over the back of it.'”

“I’ve never seen a reaction like that.”

Former Lane County District Attorney Pat Horton explained, “Her behavior in the hospital did not fit a traditional grieving mother whose children had just been shot, one killed, the other two seriously clinging to life.”

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Doug Welch, a former Lane County Sheriff’s Office detective, called Down’s behavior “surreal.”

PAROLE HEARING

During the documentary, Babcock reacted to seeing his birth mother’s hair-raising 2010 parole hearing.

She said: “She doesn’t make any sense and honestly it seems like she just thinks she’s smarter than the law and believes her own lies.”

“It just gives me goosebumps, just hearing her voice and seeing her.

“If you do something that horrible, at some point you have to apologize.”

In footage from Down’s parole hearing, Babcock’s birth mother is heard talking about “milk carton kids” and bragging about her intelligence.

Babcock first went public about her mother in 2010 and also met her in an attempt to learn about her roots.

Over the years, she has told her story numerous times and has been seen on 20/20, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Kids of Killers, and the Happy Face podcast series.

Diane Downs launched a violent attack on three of her children in 1983

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Diane Downs launched a violent attack on three of her children in 1983
Downs is serving a life sentence for horrific crimes he committed against his own children.

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Downs is serving a life sentence for horrific crimes he committed against his own children.

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