Thursday, June 27, 2013


In the hours before they arrested Diane Staudte for the deaths of her husband and son and the alleged assault on her oldest daughter, Springfield police seized dozens of items from her home in southwest Springfield — including several computers that investigators think may contain evidence of the plot to poison a family.

An inventory of property taken from the home at 1644 W. Swan Street reveals the direction the murder probe is taking. The inventory form was filed at 4:40 p.m. June 20, less than two hours before prosecutors charged Staudte with first-degree murder and felony assault in the alleged attacks on her family.

Among the items taken:

-Seven computers — including a silver HP laptop, three black Dell laptops, a silver Dell, and two gray Acer machines.

-Three cell phones.

-Fifty-nine CDs and several thumb drives.

-A microcassette recorder and three tapes.

-Two journals.

-A six-pack of Coca-Cola bottles and a drinking glass with "brown liquid remnants."

-Several containers with possible poisons, including windshield de-icer, HEET, steel cleaner, washer fluids, and antifreeze.

None of these items means much without proof that they are linked to the deaths of Mark and Shaun Staudte, and the illness of Sarah Staudte. Almost every household has items that are poisonous if used improperly. And just because someone has a journal doesn't mean there are incriminating passages in it; it would be surprising if either Diane or Rachel Staudte wrote anything that could be considered damning evidence of guilt.

But the inventory shows police are pinning their hopes on finding something on the hard drives and histories of the laptops — including evidence the machines were used to research poisons.

The documents attached to the search-warrant return also reveal police relied heavily on interviews with a doctor and nurse at CoxHealth to bolster their case against Diane Staudte. The nurse told cops Diane "made jokes and laughed with hospital personnel" as she visited her sick daughter. "She said Diane told her she was going to have to deal with it if Sarah died, but said if Sarah lived that was 'what was meant to be,'" according to a police affidavit. Then again, that also could be taken as evidence that Diane is a deeply religious person (she says she is) and was leaving her daughter's fate up to her God.

The documents also show that as of the day Diane was arrested, there was no definitive proof Sarah Staudte had been poisoned; the doctor suspected as much, but "the tests had all come back negative," according to the affidavit.

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