Diane Downs, the convicted child killer once played on television by Farrah Fawcett, is back on screen through a documentary being aired by 20/20.
That has a lot of people wondering where Diane Downs is now. Today, Heavy has learned, Downs is incarcerated in California. Her most recent mugshot is above. The Diane Downs case is well-known and infamous; she’s accused of shooting her three children along a roadway in Springfield, Oregon on May 19, 1983.
They were Danny, 3, Cheryl, 7, and Christie, 8. Cheryl died in the attack; the other two children suffered terrible wounds – according to Glamour, the bullets paralyzed Danny and gave Christie a stroke. The first two children were Diane’s kids with her ex husband Steve Downs. Danny was the product of an affair. She was in a new relationship – with a married man, according to Inside Edition. This, prosecutors believe, provided the motive for one of the most chilling crimes of the 1980s.
Diane maintained that “a lone gunman with shaggy hair” shot the children in a carjacking, Glamour reports, but prosecutors argued the motive was that Downs wanted to get rid of the kids because her new boyfriend didn’t want children. Christie was the star witness at trial, pinning the crime on her mother.
Here’s what you need to know about Diane Downs now:
Diane Downs Is Being Held in a California Prison
Asked where Diane Downs is now, Terry Thornton, spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections, told Heavy the following information:
“The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has been housing Downs for the state of Oregon since Aug. 30, 1993. She is currently housed at Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla.” Thornton, at Heavy’s request, provided the most recent prison photo of Diane Downs, who is known as Elizabeth Downs in the prison system (Her full name is Elizabeth Diane Downs). It’s dated April 2, 2018.
Some old news reports said Downs was transferred from the Chowchilla prison when it became a male-only facility. However, as of June 21, 2019, she was still in Chowchilla. “There used to be two women’s prisons in Chowchilla. Valley State Prison for Women is now Valley State Prison and houses men,” explained Thornton. According to KATU-TV, Downs is serving a sentence of life plus 50 years in prison. The television station reports that Downs will have a parole hearing before the Oregon Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision in March 2021.
Downs was housed in New Jersey before being transferred to California. Prison records in New Jersey provide the following information about the inmate:
SBI Number: 000443335B
Sentenced as: Downs, Elizabeth
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Green
Weight: 130 lbs.
Birth Date: August 7, 1955
Admission Date: August 28, 1984
Current Facility: Transferred
Current Max Release Date: N/A
Current Parole Eligibility Date: N/A
Her custody date was given as August 28, 1984. She has also used the name Elizabeth Frederickson. In 1987, she was first transferred out of the state of Oregon to New Jersey. According to UPI, Downs was moved out of Oregon in the first place because prison officials desired a “more security facility in a state where she is less known because she is an escape risk who constantly seeks publicity.”
Those fears are based in reality; Downs briefly escaped for 10 days from Oregon Women’s Correctional Center by scaling a fence before she was moved to New Jersey, UPI reported, and an additional five years was tacked onto her sentence.
Diane Downs Was Twice Denied Parole But She Can Try Again Soon
Diane Downs, who has always maintained she didn’t commit the crime, has twice sought to regain her freedom though parole. She was denied parole in 2008 and 2010. She is eligible to try again in 2021, however, at age 65.
At her last parole hearing, in 2010, Downs again maintained she was innocent. Of the prosecutor, she said, according to Oregon Live: “I believe Fred Hugi believes there’s a man out there who is hunting my children. There are people who know and to them it’s a game. It’s a sicko game.” Hugi adopted Christie and Danny, Oregon Live reported.
The Oregon newspaper reported that a parole board member appeared taken aback by how Downs talked about her children, telling her, “You talk about your kids in a cold, emotionless manner.” Downs insisted: “I live with it every day. I can’t talk about my children. I have to internalize it. It’s become my private grief.” It took 20 minutes to get a unanimous vote to deny her parole and extend her chance for another hearing for a decade, according to Oregon Live.
Lane County District Attorney F. Douglass Harcleroad wrote a letter to the parole board opposing Downs’ release in 2010.
“Downs continues to fail to demonstrate any honest insight into her criminal behavior,” Harcleroad wrote, according to The Seattle Times. “She continues to blame others for the commission of her crimes, and blames her attorney, the police officers, the prosecutor and others for her convictions. Even after her convictions, she continues to fabricate new versions of events under which the crimes occurred.”
According to Inside Edition, although Diane drove the kids to the hospital, suspicions quickly began to mount. There was a lack of blood spatter in places within the car, and Diane didn’t seem emotional enough to some investigators. Her story changed, the show reports.
“Diane is the type of woman, I think, could cut your throat and then sit down and have lunch next to your body,” Lane County Det. Doug Welch told Inside Edition in 1989.
During the time frame when she was being investigated, Diane Downs suddenly turned up pregnant with daughter Becky Babcock. The father was a different man from the father of her three other children. According to Oregon Live, Downs was pregnant during her trial with her daughter. Becky was adopted and today lives in Oregon, where she works in behavioral health.