Fallen Angel

True-crime author Barbara Davis fought hard to redeem Darlie Routier's reputation. Now she's caught in her own bizarre web of death, drugs, and family hatreds.

Upon entry, Shockley stated, members of the raid team loudly identified themselves as police and were immediately confronted by Davis, armed with a SIG-Sauer 9 mm pistol. The young man took "an aggressive shooting stance," pointing the gun at the officers. He was then shot twice by 37-year-old North Richland Hills officer Allen Hill. It was later determined, Shockley says, that Davis' pistol was loaded, with a bullet in the chamber, although it had not been fired during the confrontation.

While Hill administered aid to the dying young man, other members of the tactical team found Barbara Davis still in her bedroom, a loaded Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolver beneath her pillow. Only after considerable coaxing did the hysterical mother hand over the weapon.

During the subsequent search of the Davis residence, the "substantial amount" of marijuana addressed in the search warrant wasn't found; only a couple of pill bottles and film canisters containing a few marijuana-plant seeds, a glass bong, a "marijuana smoking pipe," a set of scales, and a book titled Marijuana Grower's Insider's Guide. A closet at the rear of the house had apparently been transformed into a "growing room," outfitted with lights, humidifiers, irrigation equipment, and an assortment of growing chemicals. But no plants. No marijuana, in fact, was found until investigators went into the back yard of the Davis home. There they located three plants growing in pots. Officials later determined that collectively they had a usable weight of only 2 to 4 ounces.

The evidence hardly pointed to the major pot-selling operation the arresting officers had expected to find. (In fact, the marijuana possession charge, a misdemeanor, was recently dismissed.) What they did stumble into, however, was something far more disturbing: enough weaponry to put a smile on the face of the Montana Freemen (16 firearms, ranging from handguns to shotguns to a loaded AR-15 assault rifle, and 700 rounds of ammunition) and 193.2 grams of GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate), commonly known as the "date rape" drug. Enough, police chief Shockley would later say, to make as many as 600 doses of the odorless, colorless, and potentially lethal designer drug. In Davis' bedroom, officers also found printed instructions for making GHB.

Davis, arrested and originally charged with four counts of possessing and manufacturing drugs, insisted that she had purchased the GHB over the Internet for use in her battle with insomnia. She said she knew nothing about the marijuana plants growing in her back yard. And the guns, most of which had belonged to her late husband, were all legally owned.

Davis, who insists she had recently been receiving threats over the Internet in the wake of her defense of Routier, says, "I think this was done to destroy my credibility. Troy was in the kitchen cooking and had just tapped on my bedroom door to ask if I wanted something to eat. He could not have been armed." She describes her son, who was planning to join the Haltom City First Baptist Church the following Sunday, as someone who "did not drink, smoke, or use illegal drugs."

In short order, Internet chat rooms hummed with new conspiracy theories, most based on the notion that Davis had been set up, targeted for reprisal for her new role as a Routier advocate. The truth is less Machiavellian, but just as strange. It leads not to a set-up by police, but one by relatives. It's the first piece in a family-feud puzzle that had been building since a young woman named Barbara Jean McNabb married into the Davis family in 1970.

When Bob Davis, the 55-year-old brother-in-law of Barbara Davis, arrives at the office of his Budget Casket Company ("Prices to Die For"), he is dressed in a bright print sport shirt, his graying hair pulled back in a short ponytail. A self-described "old hippie," he smiles warmly from behind frameless glasses, settles behind his desk, and begins to talk of the stormy relationship between his late brother Jim and the woman he refers to as "Barbara Jean."

He quickly admits that it was the wife of his other brother, Dan, who sent the mystery e-mail to Davis. And, he acknowledges, it was he and his 28-year-old son, Chris, who alerted the North Richland Hills police to drug activity in the home of Barbara and Troy Davis. Yes, he says, it is Chris who is the "confidential informant" mentioned in the affidavit for the search warrant. Chris Davis, his father says, will not speak with reporters. "This has really upset him. He's lost a lot of weight; he's lost his job. He just got caught in the middle of all this."

But Bob Davis, even though he's been asked by the Tarrant County District Attorney's office not to talk about the case, has a story to tell. He has, he says, long been suspicious that Barbara Davis was responsible for the late-night heart attack that claimed the life of his 47-year-old brother in 1995.

"She [Barbara] met Jim when she was 17 or 18, working in a dime store," he remembers. "She was a pretty little thing, and he fell in love right away." They soon married, purchased a trailer house, and moved it onto the northeast Tarrant County farm of Jim Davis' father. In time, the couple made the move to the three-bedroom house on Ulster Drive, where they would live for the remainder of their 25-year marriage.

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