On 19 May 1983, Diane Downs and her three children were taken to the emergency room in Springfield, Oregon, saying she was shot by a “thick-haired man” who tried to steal her car on an abandoned road that rainy night.
Diane Downs claimed that the man also shot her three children, Christie – 8, Cheryl – 7 and Danny – 3. Sheryl died on arrival, while the other two were clinging to life. Downs said she was hit in the arm by a bullet. What he thought had already happened was much worse.
Both authorities and hospital staff felt Diane Downs was too quiet for someone who had just undergone something horrific and changed her story while being interrogated by investigators.
Now Diane’s youngest child is talking loudly – after 36 years. Becky Babcock was born while Diane Downs was imprisoned. It was later adopted by another family. In a 20/20 documentary, Babcock opens up to know the truth about her notorious mother.
“The first letter written to Diane Downs, I must have written 100 times,” she says. “I was nervous, it was scary, I wanted to call her – not as a mother, because I have a mother – just as I felt the pain and emptiness I felt at the time.”
“I wrote very quickly,” says Babcock. “When I looked at the mailbox and saw its message, it was like a Pandora’s box. I’m opening it, would you throw it away?
“I did not open the tear and start reading,” Babcock told the exhibition. I sat and thought about it for a while, and I chose to open that letter. I chose, to some extent, to let her in my life. “