Welcome back to Murder Monday, ya’ll.
Before you dive in, I’m going to give you all the courtesy of some trigger warnings. I don’t think anything I have posted on here is for the faint of heart, but this case is especially morbid. If you have sensitivity to violence involving children, mental illness, abuse, etc, please do not continue. If at any point you feel uncomfortable during this read, go ahead and close the page. Put on some fluffy bullshit sitcom and move on with your day, or something. This is the case that sparked my fascination with homicide. This is the first murder case I Googled on my giant Dell computer monitor in middle school, praying my parents wouldn’t realize that I cleared the Google search history. This is the one case that truly, deeply, shook me to my core. I was a kid when I heard about this case, and I was scared of bath tubs for years after (oh yea, if you like taking bubble baths good fucking luck with the mental images I’m about to give you). Anyways… you have been warned.
Meet Andrea Yates.
Andrea Yates is one demented little shit. I’m not going to waste my time by looking into her background story for you or trying to dig deep into what made her snap. She doesn’t deserve to have her story told, because she robbed five innocent children from the chance of even having a life story. She brought five precious, loving, innocent, beautiful children into this world – and she took them right back of of it, all by herself. Now, I can sympathize with mental illness, and I probably do so a little more than I should. I have also been close with someone who has experienced postpartum depression, and can sympathize with how truly terrible it must be to experience it first hand. But there is nothing in the world that could justify what Andrea Yates did, not even a pathetic cry for an insanity plea.
Some people just should not have children.
In the summer of 1989, Andrea met Rusty Yates. They quickly moved in together, and the two married in 1993. They were living in Houston, Texas when they had their first child, Noah, in 1994. They then relocated to a small trailer in Florida. They had their second child, John, in 1995. By the time they had conceived their third child, Paul, the couple purchased a GMC motor home and moved back to Houston for Rusty’s job. Following the birth of their fourth child, Luke, Andrea fell into a depression. In 1999, Rusty knew something was deeply wrong with her when he starting catching her vigorously chewing on her fingers and shaking. Yates had been struggling with bulimia and depression, and on June 17, 1999, she attempted suicide by overdosing on pills. She was put on antipsychotics, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers and she seemed stable for quite some time. The family then moved into a small house for the sake of her health.
In July of 1999, Andrea suffered from a severe nervous breakdown which resulted in two attempts at suicide. She was hospitalized, and diagnosed with postpartum psychosis.
Postpartum Psychosis: a rare illness that occurs in approximately 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 deliveries, or approximately .1-.2% of childbirths. The onset is very sudden, usually occurring up to two weeks after delivery.
Symptoms of this illness include:
Delusions and strange beliefs
Feeling very irritated
Paranoia and suspiciousness
Rapid mood swings
Difficulty with communication at times
The most significant risk factors for postpartum psychosis are a personal or family history or bipolar disorder, or a previously psychotic episode.
There is a 5% suicide rate for mothers suffering from postpartum psychosis, and a 4% infanticide rate associated with the illness. So nearly the same amount of mothers who kill themselves while suffering from this also kill their children.
Seven weeks after her latest suicide attempts and hospitalization, Andrea Yates, who was diagnosed and taking Haldol, among other medications, conceived her fifth child against doctors’ suggestions. Her psychiatrist had warned her that if she gave birth again, her chances of a break in reality were very high.
She did it anyway.
She gave birth to her fifth child, Mary, in November of 2000, and she seemed to be coping well until the death of her father in March of 2001. After his death, Andrea became obsessed with the Bible. She stopped feeding Mary, her newborn child. She started mutilating herself, and tried to drown herself on multiple occasions. She was caught in a suicide attempt around this same time, and when she was admitted to the hospital she was described as “catatonic.” She told the doctors that the bathtub was full at home because she had intended to drown her children that day, but changed her mind.
Red fucking flag.
Andrea Yates’ psychiatrist, Dr. Saeed, suggested that Andrea no longer be left alone with her children. She should have been under supervision at all times. She was not in control of her own mind, and she needed assistance with the children for their well-being and for her own. Rusty went against the doctor’s orders and left his wife unattended with their five children. He did so because his mother was supposed to arrive to assist her within the hour, but in that hour, Andrea Yates murdered her children, all five of them, one by one – in the bath tub.
She started with John, then Paul, then Luke. After drowning them, she laid them on her bed. She then drowned 6-month-old Mary and left her floating lifelessly in the bathtub. Noah walked in and asked her what was wrong with Mary. He then ran away when he noticed she was lifeless. His mother chased him, caught him, and drowned him. Noah’s body was left floating in the tub and Mary’s body was taken and positioned in the arms of her brother, John. She positioned them like fucking puppets. She then called the police numerous times, but would not give them a clear explanation. She also called Rusty, telling him to come home immediately.
(Side note: she also locked up their dog while she murdered her children but left the dog unharmed. She had the guts to murder all of her children, but spared the life of her dog.)
Yates confessed to drowning her children. After a lengthy case, where her sentence was repeatedly overturned and questioned due to her insanity plea and record of mental illness, Andrea Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity on July 26, 2006. She was then committed to the North Texas State Hospital-Vernon Campus and later moved to a low-security state mental hospital in Kerrville. Although doctors for both the prosecutors and her defense team agreed that she was severely mentally ill with several diagnosed psychotic diseases at the time of the murders, the state of Texas asserted that she was by legal definition aware enough to judge her actions as right or wrong despite her mental defect. The prosecution also further implied spousal revenge as some sort of motive for the homicides, but there was no support for this claim.
During her trial, Rusty Yates held strong to her claim of innocence by fault of insanity. He had fantasies of continuing to have more children with her. He thought she could get better.
“All depressed people need is a swift kick to the nuts to get motivated.” This is what Rusty’s brother-in-law told Larry King that Rusty had said while visiting Andrea in the hospital.
Andrea was 450mg of Effexor among many other mediations at the time of the murders. The warning label at the time for the drug Effexor stated a warning for experiences of “homicidal ideation” and yet…
By the fault of every doctor that came across this woman, her husband, and her own god damn parents – this woman was prescribed and handed a medication to take on a daily basis that could cause homicidal tendencies with a warning right on the god damn label AFTER THE FACT that she had ALREADY threatened to DROWN HER CHILDREN.
Every single person in contact with Andrea Yates at the time of the murders should be held accountable. This woman was not in control of her actions, and everyone who knew her was thoroughly aware of this. Child protective services was not involved. Her husband held hope. Her parents were not closely involved. Andrea Yates murdered her 5 children, all under the age of 7 – and she could have been stopped.
Andrea Yates is still currently being treated for severe psychosis, and is expected to be let back into the community upon rehabilitation.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression, harming themselves or others, or posing a threat to others or risk to themselves at any time – please, fucking do something. Things like this happen every day, and sadly, in most cases, they could have been stopped.
See you next week.