Diane Downs Jenelle Eason

The Case of Diane Downs

Diane Downs was born in Phoenix, Arizona. She was raised as a child by her parents, old time Baptists. She attended a religious school and then went to Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College. She married Steven Downs in 1973. They roved together everywhere.

Downs’ marriage was rocky and she often missed her children. She did not feel warm affection from her mother or father. She preferred to work and stay away from home. She was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.

She worked as a part-time letter carder at the Cottage Grove post office. She was a bright student and a member of the church. She remained in good standing at the Christian school. She was also known to be promiscuous and ignored her mother’s duties. She eventually went to prison for a decade. She was transferred to the Clinton Correctional Institution in New Jersey in November 1987. In January 2010, she was denied parole. She will not be eligible to reapply until 2020.

On February 28, 1984, Diane Downs was arrested by the Lane County Sheriff’s Department. Her former lover, Robert Knickerbocker, told investigators that he and Diane had a brief affair. After the incident, Downs called her husband. Then, she drove to the hospital. Soon, she was pregnant with her fourth child. Her children were put into protective custody.

Then, the alarm rang for an unplanned roll call. At about 8:40 a.m., the alarm was triggered by a strong wind. A nurse then reported that a woman was suspicious. She was found and questioned. Downs told the investigators that she was carjacked by a stranger. She said that the stranger shot her.

Her surviving daughter, Christie Ann Downs, testified against her mother. She stated that she was scared to be in the presence of Downs. She believed her mother had committed acts to get free of her. During the trial, Hugi, the assistant DA for Lane County, began a line of questioning about Diane. He then referred to passages from her diary and asked her questions. She would cry when Hugi asked her, but he was reassuring. He hoped that her voice would finally emerge.

He also presented to the court the method of her murder and motive. Downs was convicted on all charges. Her sentence was life in prison plus fifty years. In February, the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the convictions.

The case was a reoccurring news story. It made headlines in 1991. In 2010, Downs’ last child, Christie, appeared on Oprah Winfeather’s show. She has since grown into a contented teenager.

She will remain in prison until her release in 2020. In the meantime, she has a cross, which became an instrument of justice for her. She can apply for parole if she is deemed fit. She can then serve the remainder of her sentence.

Downs’ former lover, who still lives in Oregon, was not present during the court proceedings. But he had personal plans for the case. He wished to take it over. He had previously worked for the Chandler police station.

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