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The Cult of Darlie

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Brown, however, cut out all the information about Darlie before the piece was published. From what little Brown knew about the case, he thought Darlie did it. "I didn't want to give her any ink whatsoever," he says. "We're a local magazine that focuses on positive things."

McLemore and Pardo invited Brown to Waco to show him the evidence they'd collected. Brown turned them down several times, but finally relented.

Before he went, Brown read all the newspaper coverage on the trial, and by the time he was done, he was intrigued by some of the inconsistencies in the state's case. If Darlie slashed her own throat by the sink, as the state alleged, why was her blood on her pillow on the couch where she lay asleep? And how did that bloody sock get down the alley? "I love a good mystery," Brown says.

In Waco, Pardo and McLemore showed him more perplexing pieces of the puzzle: the bloody fingerprint they believed was identifiable, pictures of Darlie's badly bruised arms. Brown was impressed and even shared some theories of his own. What he didn't tell them was that he was planning to try and prove them himself.

Brown wasted no time getting to work. It was the middle of the night by the time he left Waco. But instead of heading home to Lewisville, he decided to swing by Rowlett. He wanted to test one of his theories about the errant sock that police had found in the alley, 75 yards from the Routiers' house. He wondered whether an intruder had used it to keep from leaving fingerprints, then absently placed it on top of his car when he reached for his keys to make a fast getaway. Brown pulled into the alley behind the Routiers' home. He placed a sock on the roof of the car and then floored it; he did this several times, and each time, the sock landed in almost the same place police had found the original one.

Brown says everyone was talking about helping Darlie, but from what he could tell, no one was really doing anything to prove who else might have committed the murders. So he decided to take matters into his own hands, especially after it became clear to him that Pardo suspected that Darin had something to do with the boys' deaths. Brown vehemently disagrees with that theory and accuses Pardo of being as wrongheaded as the police.

One of the things Brown did was blow up a picture of the bloody fingerprint on the utility-room door--the one that's supposedly unidentifiable--and show it to some forensic experts, who assured him it was clear enough to be used to rule out suspects. He claims a Plano police officer, who helped Rowlett police on the Routier murder investigation, told him that he had compared the print with Darlie's and Darin's and that it didn't match. Rowlett police, however, allegedly told the officer not to compare the print with anyone else's. Brown says that when he called the officer back a week later to get him to repeat on tape what he had said, the officer changed his story.

Brown also went to the trouble of comparing the print with the fingerprints of the person Pardo and the Routier family long suspected could have been the so-called intruder--the criminal son of the Rowlett police officer.

Brown's book says the prints didn't match. But Brown now hints he may have just said that to appease the appeals attorneys, who are not pleased about his going public with his information.

The McLemore-Pardo camp accuses Brown of stealing its ideas, trying to profit from them, and undermining Darlie's appeal in the process. "We don't need some wannabe Sherlock Holmes tipping off the other side, which is what this guy is doing," McLemore says. "I feel sick I ever talked to him."

Stephen Cooper, one of Darlie's appeals attorneys, is amused by the revolving cast of weird characters his case keeps attracting. It would be downright entertaining if it didn't take away so much time from what he needs to be doing--researching and writing the appellate brief. The transcript fiasco alone has delayed the whole process by more than a year. And every time someone contacts Darlie's family claiming he has the evidence that will free her, Cooper has to listen and calm them down.

A bit of a character himself, Cooper doesn't know what to make of the Barbara Davis turnabout. "I'm thinking double agent," Cooper says. "You have to understand, Hitler had a higher standing with Darlie's family than Barbara Davis when her book came out. Now I hear she's changing her position and visiting my client on a regular basis. It's like re-electing Richard Nixon. Yeah, maybe he can change, but why risk it?"

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Ann Zimmerman

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