Diane Downs monster mother of well adjusted Rebecca Babcock

Diane Downs, 54, is an American woman who was convicted of murdering one of her children having shot all 3, and then trying to blame it on a carjacker. Her lies were exposed and she was convicted in 1984 and sentenced to life in prison.

The trial captured the imagination of the American public who had always wondered what had happened to the child she was carrying at the time of her trial.

That child is in fact Rebecca Babcock who grew up with her adopted parents just 100 miles away from her biological mother. Her story became public last night on ABC. Babcock always knew that she had been adopted, but was shocked to learn that she was the daughter of a convicted murderer. At age 16 it is hard to comprehend that her mother’s conviction flowed from shooting her own children.

More so when that mother is a liar whose only real motive for destroying her children's lives was because they became unwanted baggage in her relationship with a married man.

She was born Elizabeth Diane Frederickson in Phoenix, Arizona on August 7 1955 where, she claimed, her father molested her when she was a child. She graduated from Moon Valley High School in Phoenix where she met her husband Steve Downs. She had also been expelled from the Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College in Orange, California after a year for promiscuity.

She married Downs on November 13, 1973 and divorced him in 1980.

On May 19, 1983, Diane Downs shot her three children: Stephen aged 3, Cheryl Lynn aged 7 and Christie Ann Downs aged 8. She then drove them in the blood spattered car to the McKenzie-Willamette Hospital. On arrival Cheryl was already dead and Downs herself carried a gunshot wound in the left forearm. She claimed to have been the victim of a carjacking on a rural road near Springfield, Oregon, by a strange man who shot her and her three children.

The police were alerted when they noticed that Downs was too calm to have gone through the events she was describing. More so when Downs went to see Christie for the first time; Christie's eyes glazed over with fear and her heart rate jumped.

It then emerged that Downs had telephoned a man in Arizona named Robert Knickerbocker immediately upon arriving at the hospital. Police found a motive buried in her diary; an affair with a married man, Knickerbocker, who didn’t want her children.

Things got worse for Downs when the forensic evidence did not match her story; there was no blood on the driver's side of the car, nor was there any gunpowder residue on the driver's panel. Downs did not tell police she owned a .22 caliber handgun, but both Danny Downs and Knickerbocker said she did own one.

Police later discovered that she had bought the handgun in Arizona, and found unfired casings that had been worked through the same gun that shot the children. This was compelling despite the fact that they were unable to find the actual weapon.

Then witnesses came forward and said they saw Downs' car being driven very slowly toward the hospital despite her claims that she had rushed the children there. That was the final straw for the police who arrested her in February 28, 1984, and charged her with murder, attempted murder and criminal assault.

Evidence was overwhelming with prosecutors confirming that Downs shot her children to be free of them so that she could continue her affair with Knickerbocker who had let it be known he did not want children in his life. Most damning of all was the testimony of the surviving daughter, Christie Downs, who told the court how her mother shot all three children while parked at the side of the road, then shot herself in the arm.

She was found guilty on all charges on June 17, 1984, and was sentenced to life in prison plus 55 years. Most of the sentence is to be served consecutively with the judge making it clear that he did not want Downs ever to regain her freedom.

Ten days after the sentencing, Downs gave birth to a baby girl - Babcock - while the other surviving children eventually went to live with one of the prosecutors of the case, Fred Hugi. He and his wife Joanne adopted them in 1984. The youngest child, Danny, was left a paraplegic as a result of the shooting. His older sister Christie has permanent partial paralysis on one side of her body.

Downs briefly tasted freedom when she escaped from the Oregon Women's Correctional Center on July 11, 1987, but was recaptured in Salem, Oregon on July 21.

Even at her first parole hearing in 2008 she continued to try and maintain her innocence which will no doubt prolong her sentence indefinitely. She is now serving her time in the California State Prison system. Rebecca grew up in Bend, Oregon, to a loving family and appears to be proof that nurture is stronger than nature.

She tells of a wonderful family upbringing with hiking and other normal every day activities.

At age 8 after her persisting Jackie Babcock her adopted mom told her that her mother was in prison but not why.

That came when she was 16 with the obvious shock that that entails.

When Downs escaped she vowed to get back her children but as it turned out she was found ten days later with another married man living near the prison.


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