It was quite a few years later that she decided to write about Diane Downs, a mother who shot her three young children. In May of 1983, Downs drove her badly wounded children to an emergency room and claimed that a bushy-haired stranger shot them. One child died, and the other two were left disabled. It is believed that she shot her children to gain the love of a man who had no interest in having children. She was indicted and tried a year later, and this book, Small Sacrifices, takes us through the horrifying story.
Rule does an amazing job describing each of the characters, from the prosecutor and defense attorney to Diane Downs herself. The doctors, nurses and police who were involved were obviously traumatized, as was everyone involved. Her description of the mother seemed almost fictionalized...how could anyone be that heartless? She is obviously a psychopath whose abused childhood turned her into a child killer. Her own daughter took the stand and named her mother as the killer, and yet Downs showed little emotion.
I know this book is quite old, but the story is a fascinating look into the mind of evil. Downs was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. She has been denied parole several times and will be up for it again in 2020. The prosecutor took in the surviving two children and ultimately adopted them.
If you haven't read Ann Rule's books, this is a good place to start, and if you are a fan and missed this, I strongly recommend it.
Publisher - Signet
Date of Publication - July 5, 1988