Andrea Yates was born July 2, 1964, in Houston, Texas. In 1993, she married Rusty Yates, who was a disciple of preacher Michael Peter Woroniecki. Through sermons, videos and personal telephone calls, the Woronieckis condemned the Yates’ for their hypocritical Christian lifestyle, saying their children were doomed to hell because of their parents sins. The Woronieckis also preached that married couples should have as many children as possible.
n 1999, Yates was treated for postpartum depression and psychosis, illnesses that ran in her family. After the birth of her fifth child and the death of her father, she went into a severe depression and was forcefully admitted to Devereux-Texas Treatment Network. There, Dr. Mohammed Saeed prescribed a series of psychotropic drug treatments. In June 16, 1999, Andrea called Rusty and begged him to come home. He found her shaking involuntarily and chewing on her fingers. The next day, she was hospitalized after she tried to commit suicide by taking an overdose of pills. She was transferred to the Methodist Hospital psychiatric unit and diagnosed with a major depressive disorder. The medical staff described Andrea as evasive in discussing her problems. On June 24 she was prescribed an antidepressant and released.
Once home, Andrea didn’t take the medication. She began to self-mutilate and refused to feed her children because she felt they were eating too much. She thought there were video cameras in the ceilings and said that the characters on television were talking to her and the children. She told Rusty about the hallucinations, yet neither of them informed Andrea’s psychiatrist, Dr. Eileen Starbranch, who later told the court at Yates’ first trial that she ranked her “among the five sickest patients” she had ever seen. On July 20, Andrea put a knife to her neck and begged her husband to let her die.
Andrea was again hospitalised and stayed in a catatonic state for 10 days. After being treated with injections of drugs that included Haldol, an antipsychotic, her condition improved. Rusty was optimistic about drug therapy because Andrea appeared more like she was when they met. Starbranch warned the Yateses that having another baby might bring on more psychotic behaviour. Andrea was placed on outpatient care and prescribed Haldol.
At the end of March, Andrea was admitted to a different hospital. Her new psychiatrist treated her briefly with Haldol but discontinued it, saying that she did not seem psychotic. Andrea was released only to return again in May. She was released again after 10 days and in her last follow-up visit, her psychiatrist told her to think positive thoughts and to see a psychologist.
March 2000, Andrea, at Rusty’s urging, became pregnant and stopped taking the Haldol. On Nov. 30, 2000, Mary was born. Andrea was coping but on March 12 her father died, and her mental state regressed. She stopped talking, refused liquids, mutilated herself, and would not feed Mary. She also frantically read the Bible.
On June 20, 2001, during the hour between her husband leaving for work and her mother-in-law arriving, Andrea Yates drowned all five of her children in the bathtub. Andrea put into action the thoughts that had consumed her for two years. She filled the tub with water and, beginning with Paul, systematically drowned the three youngest boys, then placed them on her bed and covered them. Mary was left floating in the tub.
The last child alive, her firstborn, 7-year-old son Noah, asked his mother what was wrong with Mary, then turned and ran away. Andrea caught him and as he screamed, she dragged him and forced him into the tub next to Mary’s floating body. He fought desperately, coming up for air twice, but Andrea held him down until he was dead. Leaving Noah in the tub, she brought Mary to the bed and laid her in the arms of her brothers.
Throughout the trial, Rusty Yates stood by his wife, claiming it was the illness and not Andrea that had killed the children. She pleaded innocence by reason of insanity citing postpartum psychosis. In March 2002, a jury rejected the insanity defense and found Yates guilty of first degree murder, sentencing her to life in prison with eligibility for parole in 40 years instead of the death penalty. That same year, The Yates Children’s Memorial Fund was established in memory of the children. Rusty Yates divorced Andrea during her incarceration in 2004 and remarried in 2006.
On January 6, 2005, the Texas Court of Appeals reversed the convictions and on July 26, 2006, Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed to North Texas State Hospital and in 2007 was transferred to Kerrville State Hospital.
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