June 3, 1974 - June 13, 1990
Marie Purnhagen was born at 2:30 am on June 3rd, 1974. She weighed
in at 4 and a half pounds. She had beautiful light blue eyes and
no hair. She was a healthy baby who slept through the night from
the moment she was brought home. I think she was born with a smile
on her face. She rarely cried.
she was three, she took ballet and tap with her older sister
Stacy. Before her recital, she cut her bangs totally off her
head. She was so scared to be on stage that before their dance
number was over, she had basically inched herself behind the stage
and Stacy were very close. They were constantly getting into
mischief and Gracie, being younger, was usually left holding the
bag. When her brothers and little sister came along, she learned
how to make that work to her advantage.
was very protective of her brothers and sister and usually was put in
charge of them after Stacy got married. She usually always had
Tiffany with her, but still had time with her friends. And there
were plenty. Girls AND boys. In fact, before Stacy got
married, she liked the fact that Gracie drew so many people to her.
was also close with her brother Artie. They were only 17 months
apart. Artie was 5' 10" at age 14 and she loved to introduce
him to friends as her "Big Brother".
Teddy and Tiffany, she was the typical big sister. She brought
them along even when she didn't want to and took care of them while we
were at work.
learned never to ask her why she did anything or why something
happened. The result would be a long explanation that, by the end
of it, would leave your head spinning and saying "Huh!?"
She could double talk with the best of them. Saying alot without
saying anything, which leads me to believe she would have eventually
become a politician!
us she was a source of joy and we knew there would never be a dull
moment in our lives with her around. We miss her terribly, but we
thank God that he blessed us with such a dynamic spirit like Gracie, if
even for a short time. She will always be in our hearts and
minds. She gave us many happy memories and she will always
be our daughter.
February 4th, 1981 - June 13th, 1990
Elena Purnhagen was born at 12:30 in the afternoon on February 4th,
1981. She was 4 pounds, 4 ounces and bald. She had huge
brown eyes and looked exactly like her older sister Stacy. I told
people they were twins born nine years apart.
was a very loving child and usually mild-mannered. Being the
youngest, she was usually teased by her older sisters and
brothers. I called her "Mouse" and she would call me her
"Mouse Mommy". She was our baby. When I wasn't
working, we were definitely joined at the hip. She was good in
school and all her teachers loved her.
her sister Gracie was outgoing, Tiffany was extremely level-headed for
her age. She was also generous with her hugs and kisses. She
was always doing things to help around the house and anywhere she
could. She was always concerned about your feelings and was very
tactful for a little girl.
she could hold her own if she had to. Once, when her brother Artie
teased her just a little too much, she picked up an object and chased
him out of the house with it. She was 8, he was 14!
was always very proud and wanted to show everyone when she learned
something new. I can still see and hear her when she learned how
to hold her breath under water. It was something every child says,
but the memory is so precious to me. "Mommy, Daddy,
Watch! Watch what I can do!" as she took a deep breath and
put her head under the water. Then as she came up, "Did you
miss the hugs and kisses. The way she looked and talked. I
miss when I would tuck her in at night and lay down with her. She
would put her little arm around my neck and snuggle up against me and
say "I Love You" - "Goodnight Mommy and Daddy".
miss you more than words can say but we are so glad God brought you into
our lives if only for a little while.
Words from a grieving mother:
two daughters were murdered on June13th 1990. Their 10th year
anniversary just passed. They were murdered by Dennis and Delton
Dowthitt in Montgomery County Texas, behind the Imperial Oaks
subdivision. Delton murdered 9yr old Tiffany and he admits to it.
Dennis, his father, murdered Gracie. She had just turned 16 on June
3rd. Before he murdered her, he sexually mutilated her with a beer
bottle and then ripped her throat out, literally. Dennis is on Death
Row in Huntsville waiting for a second date to be set. Delton will
be eligible for parole sometime in the next five years. This amazes me because since he
was incarcerated he has been in solitary confinement because he is
too dangerous to be among the other criminals, yet they may give him
parole just because of, whatever. I will need help keeping him in
prison for as long as I can. His sentence was for 45 years because
he testified against his father and he was ineligible for the death
penalty because he was 2 weeks shy of his 17th birthday when this
"I am having a
very hard time writing this. 10 years is like a blink of the eye
right now. I also cannot believe that I can't remember if Delton was
charged with murder or capital murder. I think it was just? murder.
I miss my girls soo much. I've always wanted to get involved and
help others. I just can't seem to get myself past what happened to
me. Selfish, huh?!"
"Sorry for venting
again. Feb 4th will be Tiffany's 20th birthday. Yet she will not be
here for it. It is another milestone she won't reach here on earth.
She was brutally murdered when she was 9 years old along with her
sister Gracie who had just turned 16. March 7th 2001 their
murderer, Dennis Dowthitt is supposed to be put down. There is
always a chance, probably good, that he will get another stay of
execution. It just makes me so mad that he is still here and she
isn't. Also that he can get another chance to beat death when they
couldn't. There seem to be so many people so worried that
"He" will be executed. Where were they while my babies
were being executed? Just wondering."
To the Board of Pardons and Parole
We understand that Dennis Dowthitt's
lawyer has asked you for a commutation of sentence from death to life
and a 60 day reprieve. We would hope that you will not do this and
continue on with the execution. He murdered two of our daughters, Gracie
and Tiffany. Gracie had just turned 16 and Tiffany was only 9. This was
in 1990. We have waited long enough for his execution and this plea for
his life is just unacceptable.
Gracie was sexually mutilated with a
beer bottle and then had her throat ripped out. Tiffany was strangled so
hard with a rope that she was basically decapitated. How you could allow
this man to live this long boggles our minds. Please don't forget about
what he did to our daughters. They were real people also and barely
lived the life that they should have because of him.
We are begging you, please refuse this
lawyers suggestion and carry out Dowthitt's sentence. Otherwise, you
stand the chance of inflicting his kind of brutal attack on some other
child should he get out. Let Gracie and Tiffany rest in peace and make
the world safe from at least this one particular predator.
Thank you for listening to us.
Linda and Art Purnhagen
My wish for all of you
Wed Jun 13, 2001
This is an extremely difficult time for myself and my family. This week
mirrors the week of June 13th, 1990 in that June 13th then was also a
Wednesday. Gracie and Tiffany were murdered that night. We were told
they found their bodies on June 17th, Father’s Day. This Sunday will
be Father’s Day also. And it goes on and on; their funeral was
Wednesday. June 20th. These wishes and prayers are for all of you as a
tribute to my girls.
For All the Victims - I pray and wish that you have eternal piece with
God, and for you to know that you are always in our hearts and minds. I
ask that God let you watch over the future victims and alleviate their
For All the Future Victims
- I pray that God will send his angels to take you quickly into the
light away from any and all pain.
For All the Survivors of
Murder Victims - I pray that God will send you his Comforter to heal
your broken hearts and give you the strength to go on living for your
For All Future Survivors
of Murder Victims - I wish for you the same.
For All Executed Murderers
- I pray that God makes you watch over any future murderers and he gives
you the ability to reason with them and stop them from committing their
For All Future Murderers -
I pray that God gives you the ability to listen to these voices and stop
from killing anyone.
For the Families of the
Executed - I pray God brings you peace and healing and
For the Families of the
Future Murderers - I pray God gives you insight into their
problems and the ability to act and get them help before they commit
their horrible crime.
For Everyone - I pray that
God gives you all peace, harmony, understanding, and tact for all of us
who have had tragedy touch our lives.
Grace Marie Purnhagen
June 3, 1974 - June 13, 1990
Tiffany Elena Purnhagen
February 4, 1981 - June 13, 1990
Dennis Dowthitt was
executed on March 7, 2001
For more details about the murders, read
from the Houston Chronicle below.
Circuit Court ruling on Dennis Dowthitt's appeal
painting, Side By Side, is the work of artist Greg Olsen.