QUESTION: Was Yates insane? Does her (ex) husband bear any responsibility in the crime? Why or why not?
Andrea (Kennedy) Yates was born on July 2, 1964 in Houston, Tex. She graduated from Milby High School in Houston in 1982. She was the class valedictorian, captain of the swim team and an officer in the National Honor Society. She completed a two-year pre-nursing program at the University of Houston and then graduated in 1986 from the University of Texas School of Nursing in Houston. She worked as a registered nurse at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center from 1986 until 1994.
Andrea Meets Rusty Yates:
Andrea and Rusty Yates, both 25, met at their apartment complex in Houston. Andrea, who was usually reserved, initiated the conversation. Andrea had never dated anyone until she turned 23 and prior to meeting Rusty she was healing from a broken relationship. They eventually moved in together and spent much of their time involved in religious study and prayer. They were married on April 17, 1993. They shared with their guests that they planned on having as many children as nature provided.
Andrea Called Herself “Fertile Myrtle”:
In their eight years of marriage, the Yates had five children; four boys and one girl. Andrea stopped jogging and swimming when she became pregnant with her second child. Friends say that she became reclusive. The decision to home-school the children seemed to feed her isolation.
The Yates Children:
Feb. 26, 1994 – Noah Yates, Dec. 12, 1995 – John Yates, Sept. 13, 1997 – Paul Yates, Feb. 15, 1999 – Luke Yates, and on Nov. 30, 2000 – Mary Yates was the last child to be born.
Their Living Conditions:
Rusty accepted work in Florida in 1996 and the family moved into a 38-foot travel trailer in Seminole, FL While in Florida, Andrea got pregnant, but miscarried. In 1997 they returned to Houston and lived in their trailer because Rusty wanted to “live light.” The next year. Rusty decided to purchase a 350-square-foot, renovated bus which became their permanent home. Luke was born bringing the number of children to four. Living conditions were cramped and Andrea’s insanity began to surface.
Michael Woroniecki was a traveling minister from whom Rusty purchased their bus and whose religious views had influenced both Rusty and Andrea. Rusty only agreed with some of Woroniecki’s ideas but Andrea embraced the extremist sermons. He preached, “the role of women is derived from the sin of Eve and that bad mothers who are going to hell create bad children who will go to hell.” Andrea was so totally captivated by Woroniecki that Rusty and Andrea’s family grew concerned.
Andrea’s First Suicide Attempt :
On 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. However, on June 24 she was prescribed an antidepressant and released.
Once home, Andrea did not take the medication and as a result 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. Starbranch. On July 20, Andrea put a knife to her neck and begged her husband to let her die.
Warned About the Risks of Having More Babies :
Andrea was again hospitalized and stayed in a catatonic state for 10 days. After being treated with an injection of different drugs that included Haldol, an anti-psychotic drug, her condition immediately improved. Rusty was optimistic about the drug therapy because Andrea appeared more like the person he first met. Dr. Starbranch warned the Yates that having another baby might bring on more episodes of psychotic behavior. Andrea was placed on out-patient care and prescribed Haldol.
New Hopes for the Future :
Andrea’s family urged Rusty to buy a home instead of returning Andrea to the cramped space of the bus. He purchased a nice home in a peaceful neighborhood. Once in her new home, Andrea’s condition improved to the point that she returned to past activities like swimming, cooking and some socializing. She was also interacting well with her children. She expressed to Rusty that she had strong hopes for the future but still viewed her life on the bus as her failure.
The Tragic End:
In March of 2000, Andrea, on Rusty’s urging, became pregnant and stopped taking the Haldol. On November 30, 2000, Mary was born. Andrea was coping but on March 12, her father died and immediately her mental state digressed. She stopped talking, refused liquids, mutilated herself, and would not feed Mary. She also frantically read the Bible.
By the end of March Andrea returned to a different hospital. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Mohammed Saeed, treated her briefly with Haldol but discontinued it, saying that she did not did not seem psychotic. Andrea was released only to return again in May. She was released in 10 days and in her last follow-up visit with Saeed, she was told to think positive thoughts and to see a psychologist.
Two days later, Rusty left for work and before his mother arrived to help, Andrea began to put into action the thoughts that had consumed her for two years.
Andrea filled the tub with water and beginning with Paul, she 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 was the first born, seven-year-old Noah. He asked his mother what was wrong with Mary, then turned and ran away. Andrea caught up with 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.
During Andrea’s confession she explained her actions by saying that she wasn’t a good mother and that the children were “not developing correctly” and she needed to be punished.
Her controversial trial lasted three weeks. The jury found Andrea guilty of capital murder, but rather then recommending the death penalty, they voted for life in prison. At the age of 77, in the year 2041, Andrea will be eligible for parole
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