A prototype for Susan Smith and Casey Anthony.
A bed hopper and unfit mother who shot her three small children (Christie, 8, Cheryl, 7, and Danny, 3) on May 19, 1983, killing Cheryl and paralyzing Christie and Danny in an effort to continue an affair with a married former colleague who did not want children in his life. She tried to pin the crime on a "bushy-haired stranger" who attacked them on a country road.
Downs could not keep her story straight, however, and her calm (even giddy) behavior in all of the media circus raised suspicion.
Although often described as "beautiful" and "dangerously seductive", Diane Downs looks more like John Lithgow on a bad day and even sported a mullet early in the case. Despite this, she cunningly bedded a man during the investigation to become pregnant as a means of gaining sympathy.
Downs also used the molestation defense at her trial, claiming that her father had fondled her; he denied it and by 1989 she had recanted her accusation.
Despite suffering a stroke and losing much use in her arm, Christie Downs, at nine years of age, tearfully confirmed at her mother's trial that her mother was the one had shot her and Cheryl and Danny.
Diagnosed by psychologists as a narcissistic, histrionic antisocial personality and thus diagnosed as a sociopath, Diane Downs was sentenced to life in prison and to this day maintains her innocence, despite overwhelming evidence and her constantly changing story.
In 1989, "Small Sacrifices", a tv movie based on the case was released, starring Farrah Fawcett as Diane Downs, although the Downs is hardly attractive with her creepy Joker smile and masculine face.