Female Killers · Massacres/Mass Murder · Texas

Mother suffering from diagnosed postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis drowns 5 children to save their souls

June 20, 2001
Houston, Texas
Andrea Yates drowns her 5 children to supposedly save their souls from Satan

Andrea, who had 5 children in a 7 year timespan, was suffering from postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. She became depressed after her fourth child; she was found shaking and chewing her fingertips on June 16, 1999 and attempted suicide the next day. Andrea was admitted to the hospital and given prescription drugs for her depression but soon held a knife to her neck and begged for her husband to let her die. After another round of hospital stays and drugs prescribed, she seemed to stabilize, but shortly after she relapsed and attempted suicide twice more. She saw even more doctors who diagnosed her with postpartum psychosis and was urged not to continue having children as her condition would likely worsen. The couple conceived their fifth child 7 weeks after she was discharged.

In March of 2001, Andrea’s father died which seemed to be the catalyst for yet another downward spiral. She stopped taking her medication, mutilated herself, stopped feeding her youngest child, read from the Bible “feverishly,” and was admitted to a mental health facility once again in April. She was released, and on May 3 she drew a bath in the middle of the day which was initially suspected to be another suicide attempt. Andrea later confessed she had originally planned to drown the children but changed her mind.

On June 20, against doctor’s warnings, Rusty Yates left Andrea alone with the children. He had scheduled his mother to come by the house an hour after he left to take over for Andrea; all 5 children were murdered in this 1-hour timeframe. (Rusty told family he was trying to give Andrea some time alone with the children to increase her independence. He had also allegedly told Andrea’s brother depressed people need a “swift kick in the pants” as they were bringing Andrea to one of her many treatments for depression.)

She drowned John Samuel (5), Paul Abraham (3), and Luke David (2) first, laying them on her bed after their deaths. She then drowned Mary Deborah (6 months) and left her floating in the water while she called Noah Jacob (7). He asked what was wrong with Mary and ran away from his mother but was overpowered. Andrea left Noah floating in the tub and placed Mary’s body in John’s arms on the bed. She called the police repeatedly but did not say why she needed assistance. She also called her husband and told him he needed to come home.

Andrea claimed she killed the children to save their souls. In her mind, if they died before the “age of accountability” they would be immune from damnation. Andrea was found guilty and given a life sentence during her first trial. She was granted a second trial when it was found some psychiatric evidence presented by the prosecution was materially false. She was retried and found not guilty by reason of insanity and sentenced to a state mental health hospital.

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