Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Undocumented: Andrea Yates

At 10.00am on June 20th 2001, Rusty Yates answered a phone call from his wife, Andrea.
Andrea: 'You need to come home'
Rusty: 'What's going on?'
After repeating the statement multiple times, she added;
Andrea: 'It's time. I did it'
Terrified, Rusty asked her to explain;
Andrea: 'It's the children'
Rusty: 'Which one?'
Andrea: 'All of them'
Texas: June 20th, 2001
Five children; dead.
It was as if he was expecting it...
The NASA engineer frantically raced home from work to find an army of police and ambulances outside his door. After screaming 'how could you do this?', he collapsed into a fetal position on his lawn, assaulting the ground beneath him as he watched his estranged wife walk away in handcuffs.
In the back master bedroom, four children lay dead. All were clothed, all had their eyes wide open. Their brother was still submerged in the bathtub, floating amidst his siblings faeces and vomit.
Andrea had called the police. According to the operator she had spoken coherently, but when she answered the door, her shirt and hair were soaked with water. With a transparent look on her face, she told officers that she had killed her children and expected to be punished for her crimes.
The same question rested on everyone's lips; how and why could any mother murder every single one of her children?

Andrea Yates

Born on July 2nd 1964, Andrea Yates (born Kennedy) was born in Houston and was the youngest of five children. She was shy, but extremely dedicated to her studies and earned a nursing degree from the University of Texas Health Science Centre and shortly after became a registered nurse.

She met Rusty when she was 25 and quit her job as a nurse following the birth of her first child. In 1993 they married and told friends that they expected six children. After the birth of Noah, Andrea began to have violent thoughts and visions (including seeing someone being stabbed and believing Satan was speaking to her) but kept them to herself.

Following an erratic relationship with self proclaimed 'prophet' Michael Woroniecki (someone Rusty had introduced her to), Andrea began to abandon her Catholic views; views Michael referred to as sinful. Yates introduced Christian only texts into her family and was frequently reminded by Woroniecki that she was 'evil' and 'wicked' and that she needed to change.

It was inevitable that Andrea would sink into a swallowing depression. She desperately wanted to be a good mother and as pressures built, her father developed Alzheimer's. Any joy that remained in Andrea's life was rapidly deteriotating.
The pellucidity of the woman who had just sickeningly taken the lives of her babies disturbed investigators.
When asked 'who killed your children?', she replied 'I killed my children'. When asked why, she said 'because I'm a bad mother'. And that was it.
Indolent and sluggish, Andrea told police how she had awoke at 08:10am and waited for her husband to leave for work. Once he had, she left the children who were eating their breakfast downstairs to fill the bathtub with water (3 inches from the top).

One by one, Yates drowned three of her sons (Luke, 2; Paul, 3; and John, 5), forcing them face down into the water. Once they had died, she lay them face up on the bed and covered them with a sheet. Sat next to her and crying was her next victim: 6 month old Mary. Her oldest son, Noah, was the next to be called. However, once he had realised the sickening truth of what was going on, he desperately tried to run from his Mother who was wickedly chasing behind. Noah was caught; his last words 'I'm sorry'.

But the question had still not been answered; why?


Crucially, Rusty Howard had explained to police that his wife had been taking medication for depression. She had even been hospitalised for attempting to kill herself numerous times. Andrea was extremely ill.

In 1999, Andrea called Rusty at work telling him that she needed help. He came home to find her shaking and chewing her fingers. Weeks later she attempted to kill herself by overdosing on drug's prescribed for her father and was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder.

For two years leading up to the tragic event, Andrea had been experiencing malevolent thoughts of hurting her children and believed they were not developing correctly due to her bad parenting. Andrea continually reiterated her desire to be punished for being a bad mother.

Unfortunately, Rusty didn't believe Andrea was a danger to her children. How wrong he was.


On March 12th 2002, the jury reached their verdict; guilty.

Andrea's defense had based their argument on insanity claims, however, these were rejected. If Andrea was not insane, then she was liable to the death penalty. The nation was split on whether Yates should be given the death penalty or not and a letter was sent by Andrea's defense attorneys even asking for a mistrial. The answer was 'no'.

The jury returned a sentence of life in prison rather than death; Andrea showed little emotion. She now spends her days in Mountain View Unit, a state psychiatric prison in Texas.

Rusty believed his family were mishandled by the mental health system. He felt he had not been adequately warned and believed his wife had not been adequately treated.

So was it the fault of the mental health system or the naivety of Rusty Yates that led to the death of five innocent children? No investigation has been developed.


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