Andrea Yates PSY 303 On June 20, 2001 five children were murdered by their own mother. Andrea Yates and her husband Russell lived in suburban Houston, Texas. The couple had five children, Noah 7, Paul 3, John 5, Luke 2 and Mary who was only 6 months old. Andrea and her husband both were young educated parents. Andrea who was a nurse and Russell who worked for NASA as an engineer at the Johnson Space Center. Andrea grew up Catholic and her husband Russell grew up Methodist. Andrea came from a family of loving parents and so did her husband Russell.
On the morning of that June day, Russell kissed the kids as he did every morning before work and had left the kids happy eating their breakfast at the table. At 9 am Russell received a phone call from Andrea saying that he needed to come home. As Russell rushed home from his job, Andrea had already called the authorities and emergency crews and said she had killed all of her five children. As the police entered the home, Andrea stood cold faced and admitted to the attending officers that she and she alone drowned her five young children.
As Russell rushed to his wife’s side, she admitted also to him, as she stood in handcuffs that she had killed all five of their children. Russell dropped to the ground where emergency crews attended to his broken, shocked body. As Andrea was questioned about the murders, she stood still, no emotion, stoned face and serious as she told the detectives that she was marked by Satan and the only way to save her children from hell was to kill them. And by the state punishing her for the children’s deaths, Satan himself would be destroyed.
As Andrea told her story, detectives, invited psychiatrists to interview Andrea before she was to be put in jail. That is when they found the answers they have been looking for. As Andrea was arrested and charged with capital murder, she still admitted to anyone who would listen that Satan was coming and she had to save her children. As Andrea sat in a jail cell, she admitted to her cell mates that she had been planning these murders for almost two years.
She also saw satanic teddy bears and ducks on her cell wall and her voices that told her she had done the right thing. Andrea pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the advice of her lawyer that her family had hired. As the trial began truth began to come out about Andrea and her sickness. The trial has brought out how Andrea had always taken care of the children with no help, she home schooled them, and she even took care of her dad who had severe Alzheimer’s.
As the jury heard all of the sadness this trial had to offer, they came back with a guilty verdict and sentenced her to life in prison, not death. As the law in Texas is written anyone who is sentenced to life in prison must serve 40 years before the thought of parole even comes into play. Texas is the state with the most death sentences in the country which is followed through in a short time. After the trial a witness for the prosecution admitted to falsifying a testimony which in this case meant an overturned conviction and a new trial.
On July 26, 2006 Andrea Yates began her new trial. This gave Andrea’s lawyer more time to gather more information about her in which he wanted an insanity plea. In the new trial, the Yates families odd dynamics came to life, their new religious beliefs were brought into the public eye, the inadequacies of their medical insurance benefits came into play, and last but not least the loss of medical professionals recognizing the post natal depression or postpartum depression.
In the Yates’s new religion they met a preacher who worked with Russell his name was Michael Woranicki, and his profound beliefs of religion were of fire and brimstone, he also believed that Satan was knocking on the earths door and the only thing that parents can do in saving their children was to be responsible parents. He also preached that the parents of these children should commit suicide rather than cause their children to stumble and go to hell. Andrea’s signs of mental illness also showed in this second trial.
After her first child Noah was born, she had hallucinations that involved stabbing. After her fourth child was born she attempted suicide by overdosing on sedatives. She was taken to the hospital but before any mental health issues were solved, she was discharged because of medical insurance would only pay for a certain amount of inpatient stay. Andrea was prescribed antidepressants, but refused to take them. She attempted another suicide this was for the second time; she had put a knife to her throat. She also began to self-mutilate and began to hear voices that told her to get the knife.
This is when she became catatonic. Drs. Suggested to her and her family that electroconvulsive therapy might help, but all refused. Then the Drs. Finally gave her a drug cocktail containing an antipsychotic agent. In the trial the Drs. Said this was effective, but strongly suggested to the Yates couple that having a 5th child might bring on another psychotic episode, that is when Andrea thought that the cocktail she was receiving was truth serum which made her lose control of herself. Andrea stopped all drugs and had a 5th child.
After her father had past and having her 5th child, she began drinking liquids and she stopped talking and pulling out her own hair. She screamed that video cameras were watching her in the house and that characters on TV were speaking to her. Mute and catatonic, she was admitted for the third time into the hospital in which it specialized in substance abuse. A new psychiatrist restarted Andrea on antipsychotic drug therapy. She was discharged 10 days later, despite being depressed and mute. She refused to take all drugs that were prescribed.
When she returned home, her actions and her behaviors were eccentric. She would fill the bath tub with water because she said you would never know, or just in case she needed it. They readmitted her to the hospital for the third time which again was discharged because of insurance reasons, that’s when her Dr. started weaning her off all medications. During all this testimony at the new trial her Drs. Finally admitted that in all their years’ experience, she had to be either the sickest or one of the sickest that they have ever encountered.
On the stand they finally diagnosed her with postnatal psychosis, major depression, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and a combination of all these conditions. After that testimony, the jury had no problem making their decision. The decision was acquitted by reason of insanity and was committed to a state mental institution. This case was a high profile case and in my opinion the woman needed help, she tried to get help, but the insurance company and her multiple physicians that were not competent enough to noticed that she needed some kind of medication were all at fault.
The second trial in my opinion got it right. Unfortunately five beautiful children had to lose their lives. References: Mental health and justice: the case of Andrea Yates Faith McLellan. The Lancet. London: Dec 2-Dec 8, 2006. Vol. 368, Iss. 9551; pg. 1951, 4 pgs “Are You There Alone? “: The Unspeakable Crime of Andrea Yates; [Review] Psychiatric Services. Arlington: Jun 2005. Vol. 56, Iss. 6; pg. 760