Special Report: Uncaging the Monster

KEZI 9 News had an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at ABC 20/20's special report on Diane Downs, the woman who shot her three children near Springfield.

Posted: Mar 22, 2019 7:10 PM
Updated: Mar 22, 2019 8:00 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- KEZI 9 News had an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at ABC 20/20's special report on Diane Downs, the woman who shot her three children near Springfield.

It was May 1983 when Diane Downs sped into an emergency room at McKenzie-Willamette Hospital with a bizarre story to tell.

The story she gave detectives was that she took a detour off Marcola Road to do some sightseeing when a bushy-haired stranger flagged her down and shot her and her children. That story proved to be nothing but lies.

"Diane was being a mother and doing what she did, she has a special place in bizarre murder cases in Lane County," said Doug Welch, the lead investigator of the case.

Welch's career was never the same after he was assigned to be the lead investigator of the case. At the time, Welch had only been a detective for less than three months and had never seen anything like this, and hasn't since.

"Nothing of this magnitude, when you've got a mother shooting her kids," Welch said.

Welch said even 36 years later, this is a case he will never forget.

"The first murder case you work, there's things that are just burned into your brain that you don't tend to forget," he said.

Welch worked the case for 15 months, and during that time he said he became attached to it. His wife, Tamara Welch, also said she felt consumed by it.

"In the midst of the investigation, Diane really became the fifth member of our household. Doug, as he mentioned, was very involved even to the point of being obsessed," Tamara said.

That obsession was fueled by a murderer who was motivated by love, and nothing could stand in her way, not even her own children.

"When Diane had shot her three children, there had of course been other mothers who killed their kids, but nothing was reported in the media quite like this," said Sunny Antrim, a producer with ABC News 20/20.

KEZI was given exclusive access to 20/20's producers and crew while they sat down with Doug Welch and followed them down that dark country road in Springfield where they filmed scenes visualizing Down's account of that night.

20/20 even tracked down former KEZI anchor and reporter Ann Jaeger for an interview. Jaeger broke the story in her early days as a reporter.

"We spoke to Ann Jaeger who reported on it back then, and till this day she's absolutely fascinated with the way that the story happened," Antrim said.

She's not the only one.

"I want people to remember what she did 36 years ago. She was sentenced to life plus 50, and my hope is that she dies in prison," Welch said.

Downs will once again make her plea for parole next year, and eyes around Lane County and the world will be watching.

The question on everyone's mind: Will this monster be uncaged?

Tune in to KEZI at 9 p.m. to watch 20/20's "My Mother's Sins."

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