Andrea Yates: From Loving Mother to Killer

When I was getting my blog up and ready, Mother’s Day was coming up. I wanted to cover some negative and positive examples of mothers. While thinking of moms that murdered their children, I knew I had to talk about Andrea. This case is just devastating for everyone involved. Today I will be discussing Andrea Yates and the tragic deaths of her children~Noah, John, Paul, Luke and Mary.

Disclosure: This story includes talk of suicide, mental health issues, and the upsetting death of young children. If any of these subjects are a trigger for please take care of yourself, and check out some of my other stories! I Never victim blame nor do I make excuses for people who commit these horrendous crimes. I believe in learning from these tragic events. The history of these awful people is important to think about what led up to the events and how to resolve the problem before it led to murder.

The Early Life of Andrea Yates

Andrea Yates was born as Andrea Pia Kennedy, on July 2, 1964, in Hallsville, Texas. Her Mother, Jutta Karin Koehler, was an immigrant from Germany. Her Father, Andrew Emmett Kennedy, was a child of immigrants from Ireland. They raised Andrea and her four older siblings with Catholic beliefs. Throughout her adolescence, she struggled with Bulimia and Depression. At the age of seventeen, she confided in a friend that she was having suicidal thoughts. In 1982, she graduated from Milby High School, from where she was valedictorian. She was also captain of the swim team and an officer in the National Honor Society. She then Completed her pre-nursing program at University of Houston and graduated from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. In 1986, she started working at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, as a registered nurse.   

Rusty Yates

In 1989, Andrea met Russell “Rusty” Yates, in Sunscape Apartments, where they both resided. Rusty was an engineer at NASA. Although Andrea was normally quiet, she initiated conversation with Rusty. Prior to meeting Rusty, Andrea In 1994, She quit her job, after eight years, to be a stay at home mom. Having little experience in relationships, she did not start dating until she was 23, and was working through a break up when she met Rusty, at 25. Soon after they started dating they moved in and would spend their nights studying the bible and praying.

On April 17,1993, the couple had their wedding. They announced to their guests that they will have as many babies as god would allow. They moved into a four bedroom house in Friendswood, Texas and resided for two years. On February 26, 1994, Andrea had their first called, a son named Noah. On December 12, 1995, She gave birth to their second son, named John.

In 1996, Rusty accepted a job in Florida. He sold their house, moved his family into a 38-foot travel trailer, and relocated them to Seminole, Florida. She got pregnant again, but miscarried, shortly after. In 1997, they moved back to Houston but continued to live in the trailer because Rusty wanted to live lightly. Later that year, on September 13, Andrea gave birth to their third son, named Paul. In 1998, he bought a renovated 350 foot bus from traveling minister, Michael Woroniecki. On February 15, 1999, She had their fourth son, named Luke. 

The Demented Pastor

Michael, the pastor, began to have major influences over the couple. He pushed his opinion that you need less material items and donate more to the church. At this time they are living in a small ass trailer with four small children. Living in a normal sized house for your family is not materialistic, it’s necessary, as you see with this story. Michael was sketchy and weird honestly. Michael preached that “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.” But also he would preach his sermons in these creepy masks, scream, and do weird stuff.

Andrea became very intrigued with his ideas and both her family and Rusty’s became concerned about her. Rusty did not follow all his ideals. Friends started to notice that she became reclusive. She started to homeschool, which fed into her isolation and was a factor into her depression. His wife also wrote her nasty letters that told her that she was going to hell, because her children, in her opinion were ill behaved.

Andrea’s Mental Health Deteriorates

On June 16, 1999, Rusty found Andrea visibly shaking and chewing her fingers. The following day, she attempted to commit suicide by taking a bunch of pills. Then, he checked her into the hospital and they administered antidepressants. After transferred to the psychiatric unit of Methodist Hospital, she received a diagnosis of Massive Depressive Disorder. Although doctors noticed her evasiveness when talking about her problems, they prescribed her antidepressants and released on June 24. Once Andrea arrived back home, she stopped taking her medication and started to mutilate herself. She then refused to feed her children, because she believed that they were eating too much food. Then the delusions started… 

She thought that there were cameras in the ceiling and that characters on the television were talking to her. Rusty knew about the hallucinations, but did not try to help her or talk to her psychiatrist. This was until July 20th, when Andrea put a knife to her throat and begged Rusty to let him kill herself. When hospitalized again, they tried various antidepressants, including Haldol. Haldol is an anti-psychotic that treats numerous conditions, including symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and delusions. Andrea’s condition began to improve and the doctors prescribed her Haldol, when they discharged her. 

A Spark of Hope then a Downward Spiral

At the urging of Andrea’s family, Rusty purchased a spacious home, instead of bringing her back to the cramped bus. Andrea started to go back to normal, enjoying past activities that she always enjoyed, like swimming and cooking, and began to be social again. She expressed to Rusty that she was hopeful for the future, but felt like a failure. In July of 1999, she has a major nervous breakdown, where she attempted to commit suicide twice. Her doctor diagnosed with Postpartum Psychosis and urged her not to have any more children, because it would cause her psychosis would increase. They, however, did not not listen to the doctor’s warning. In March of 2000, she quit taking Haldol, when she found out she was pregnant. On November 30, Andrea had their last child and only daughter, Mary. 

She was doing better, until March 12, 2001, when her father died. She quit taking her medication, mutilated herself, read the bible frantically, and quit feeding Mary. In April, She then had to become hospitalized, due to her becoming incapacitated. Under the care of a new doctor, named Dr. Mohammed Saeed, treated and released her. She became hospitalized again in May due to filling a bathtub with water in a catatonic state and the doctors thought she planned on killing herself. She later confessed that she intended on drowning the kids, but changed her mind. 

The Murders

They received strong urging from doctors that she remain supervised around the clock. On June 20, 2001, Rusty made the decision to work. His mother, Dora, scheduled to supervise Andrea, but left her alone with the kids, for an hour. This would be enough time for Andrea to do something that she could never take back. 

Andrea made a frantic call to dispatchers. She just told them that she needed Rusty to come home. Thinking it was a domestic violence issue, the operator kept asking Andrea if he was near her. They asked if she needed the police and she told them yes. After getting off the phone with 911, she called Rusty, pleading with him to leave work. She told him about the kids being hurt, very vaguely. He later told reporters that he knew something was terribly wrong. 

Patrol officer David Knapp went to what he thought was just a welfare check. Knapp checked in on Andrea and after she told him that she killed her children.

The officer walked past the family room, into the hallway, until he finally reached the master bedroom. On a mattress, he saw a little arm sticking out the blanket, and bumps in the blanket. After Lifting the blanket he saw that the arm belonged to Luke, who was two years old, along with Paul, 3, John,5, and Noah, 7, who had Baby Mary, 6 months in his arms. One by one, Andrea brought her children to the bathroom and drowned them. She started with John, Paul, and Luke, and then laid them in her bed. Then she drowned the youngest Mary. Noah asked what was wrong with Mary, then after presumably figuring it out, ran, but Andrea caught him and drowned him.

The Trials

Andrea, indicted on two counts of capital murder, she pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, on July 30 of 2001. February 18, 2002, the trial of the murder of her children began. The prosecution attempted to prove that she got the idea from an episode of Law and Order, but the producers of the show said that, at the time, no such episode ever aired. A claim they tried to use, because it was a show that she frequently watched. Originally found guilty in the deaths of Noah, John, and Mary, but they did not tried in the deaths of Paul and Luke. Originally, the judge sentenced her to life in prison. 

In October of 2003, Andrea refused to eat any food and was placed on suicide watch. Andrea’s lawyer, George Parham, filed an appeal on her behalf, on April 30, 2004. Later that same year, in July, the prison transferred her to a hospital due to refusing to eat again. In January 2005, the Texas First Court of Appeals reversed her conviction. They ruled the jury was prejudicial swayed, because  the expert witness, Park Dietz, that claimed that Law and order gave her the idea to drown her children, was wrong. Therefore the theory was moot.

Rusty filed for divorce and it was finalized in March. Andrea, again, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, in 2006. She was released from Harris County Jail and admitted into Rusk State Hospital, for mental health treatment. The jury found her not guilty due to insanity and ordered to a mental facility. She is currently in the Kerrville State Hospital in Kerrville, Texas. She is eligible to review her mental health yearly, to see if she is stable for release, but she declines it every time it comes up. 

Things that came on during trial is that she told her psychiatrist, Michael Welner, that she waited for Rusty to leave, because she knew that he would stop her. She locked up the dog, because she knew he would interfere with her plan. Andrea’s psychiatrist prior to the murders, Doctor Saeed, testified that he urged Rusty not to leave her alone. Much to the dismay of family members, He announced at family gatherings, that he would leave Andrea alone for periods of time, so that she would become too dependent on him or his mother, with maternal duties.

His brother testified that he did not take her illness seriously and that once, on a trip for a mental facility stint, all depressed people need is a “swift kick in the pants” to get them motivated. Dora, Rusty’s mother, testified that she expressed concern over Andrea being left alone, because she was not stable enough and remembering times where she gave Mary, the youngest, solid food, and the baby almost choked.

Rusty tried to claim that if he knew it was dangerous to have more kids then he would not have decided to. But her first psychiatrist Doctor testified that she urged them that it was dangerous. Andrea later said to a prison doctor that she told Rusty that she did not want to have sex, because she did not want to get pregnant, it would worsen her condition, and possibly hurt their children. She then said that Rusty asserted his religious beliefs, that she was a good mother, and could handle more children. I court, prior to the divorce, he maintained the fact, once treated, they could have children. He blamed doctors for not expressing more concern, even though they gave them warnings. 

They did try and claim that antidepressants caused homicidal ideation, but doctors testified that it was getting off of Haldol that caused her symptoms to flare up again. Andrea confessed that she thought about murdering the children for years. She felt like she was a bad mother and for them to get into heaven then she had to kill them before they turned ten years old. In recent statements, it is beleived she feels remorse and has never tried to get released.

Final Thoughts

I am very torn with this case. It is so very tragic that the murder happened. I feel so very bad for her children. That being said, I cant help but feel bad for Andrea. She clearly had a lot of mental health issues and was failed by everyone. Her husband, not only ignored her mental health issues, but pressured her to have more kids, even though he was told it would be harmful to her and, possibly, the children. She saw several doctors, trying to get help, and they kept, medicating her, then discharging her with no real follow up.

And then that piece of crap pastor would tell her that her children’s misbehaving was due to her sinning. Kids just misbehave because they are still learning. All of her children were seven and younger. I am not sure if this will be a popular opinion, but I think Andrea being in a mental facility is the right choice. She is getting the help she needs and has to deal with the choices she made for the rest of her life.


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