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Convicted child-killer moved to New Jersey

By TOM TOWSLEE

SALEM, Ore. -- Convicted child-killer Elizabeth Diane Downs was placed Wednesday in a maximum-security prison for women in Clinton, N.J., Oregon Department of Corrections officials reported.

Downs left Oregon by plane late Tuesday and arrived at the Correctional Institute for Women in the morning, Robey Eldridge, a department spokesman, said.

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Oregon will receive a prisoner from New Jersey in exchange for Downs, he said.

Marion County Circuit Judge Robert McConville cleared the way for Downs' transfer by denying a request by Steven Gorham, her attorney, that she be kept in Oregon until the appeal of her life sentence is decided.

McConville said Gorham failed to prove that corrections officials were violating their own procedures by moving Downs out of Oregon without a proper disciplinary hearing and as punishment for her escape.

Prison officials said they wanted Downs placed in a more security facility in a state where she is less known because she is an escape risk who constantly seeks publicity.

Downs, 32, was convicted in June 1984 of the shooting death of her 7-year-old daughter, Cheryl, and of wounding her other daughter, Christie, then 8, and her son, Danny, then 3. She was sentenced to life plus 50 years.

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Her two surviving children are still living in the Eugene-Springfield area where the shootings occurred.

Downs, formerly of Chandler, Ariz., escaped from the Oregon Women's Correctional Center June 11 by scaling a fence. She was captured June 21 at a house just four blocks away.

McConville sentenced Downs Monday to a maximum of five additional years in prison for her escape.

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