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Small Sacrifices 

A peculiar and disturbing case catches the attention of the police when a young mother and her children, all severely injured, show up in a hospital's emergency room.




Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »




Complete series cast summary:
Farrah Fawcett ...  Diane Downs unknown episodes


On the 19th of May 1983 Diane Downs stops at the McKenzie-Williamette-Hospital and cries for help. She is wounded on her arm and her three children are also wounded seriously. She says that a stranger shot at them but the investigation of detective Welch bring out that Diane is a liar. Written by Volker Boehm

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Her children got in the way of her love


Crime | Drama | History


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Did You Know?


Although Ann Rule's book was very popular (as was this miniseries); critics later pointed out some holes in her presentation of this true crime scenario: 1. James Jagger, Attorney for the defense, said 383 leads that might have proved Diane's innocence, were withheld by the prosecution. He said "he had made numerous requests for discovery, including requests for exculpatory material under Brady v. Maryland". He also said, "I felt I was at a great disadvantage to have been denied access to reports and notes corroborating Ms, Downs' version of events".

2. Trace metal tests were performed on Diane the night of the shooting. They were negative:

3. The shooter (according to the state) was well within the car and would therefore be covered with gun shot residue. Diane was not.

4. The shooter was covered with blood spatter and the ceiling of the car was . Diane was not.

5. The gun, Ruger #14-76187 that Diane was convicted with was subsequently found in a drug raid in Perris, California. Tests were run to determine if the ballistics matched the casings from the shooting site. They didn't!!!

6. Why do you think the prosecuting attorney would adopt the children and then have another attorney send a letter to their grandparents instructing them to not to visit them? Go to: Hugi.letter1.pdf

7. In 1993 we found people who were willing to swear that someone had confessed that he was the one who shot the Downs children. Their affidavits are available for public viewing. Do you think the composite that was drawn on the night of the shooting looks like the confessed murderer? His friends thought it looked just like him. Look at him and decide for yourself and then read the affidavits.


Just two days after Diane and her children were shot, James Claire Haynes began confessing to his friends and family that he was the one who killed Cheryl Downs and critically wounded Christie and Danny Downs. Sworn affidavits attest to Jim Haynes confessions." All of these details point to the possibility that Ann Rule's true crime account was really just an urban legend gone awry; and Diane Downs might be innocent. You can watch her parole hearings online; on youtube; and she still stubbornly maintains her innocence. (And her testimony is very detailed.) See more »


When Diane brings a pizza over to her mailman friend Matt Jensen's house, she asks him if he likes mushrooms on his pizza while holding the pizza out to him. He says yes. But the pizza has no mushrooms on it, it is clearly plain. See more »


Frank Joziak: [after delivering a telling argument against Diane's version of the story] A child, Shauna, was killed. A little girl who isn't here anymore. For what? For Diane Down's warped sense of values. Robbie won't walk, Karen won't have the use of her arm the way it was.
[His voice wavers]
Frank Joziak: These children will *never* be the same.
[Begins to erupt in rage]
Frank Joziak: And look, Diane Downs-! For once, you're not going to lie your way out of this situation, it just doesn't cut it! You're a murderer! A cold-blooded, cruel...
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Referenced in Kids of Killers (2010) See more »

User Reviews

Great Performance by Fawcett
14 August 2006 | by whpratt1See all my reviews

Enjoyed viewing Gordon Clapp,(Detective Doug Welch),"Splendor Falls",'99,)(NYPDBLUE), who starred in this picture and really gave Farrah Fawcett,(Diane Downs),"The Cookout",'04, a very hard time because of things that happened to her very own children. This story is about a Diane Downs who is desperately seeking to find true love in her life and winds up going from one husband to another and plenty of one night stands. Diane claims that her very own father molested her many times and gave her very little attention except for sexual advances. This story goes into great detail about all her affairs and there is a very long trial which Diane has to encounter. Farrah Fawcett gave an outstanding performance and I wish she would perform in many more pictures.

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USA | Canada



Release Date:

12 November 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Small Sacrifices See more »


Box Office


CAD7,300,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(2 parts)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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