Forensic Cases: Andrea Yates

Nov 7, 2018 | Criminology

An abundance of crime has presented thousands of unique cases.  Whether it be a rampant serial killer or a mother gone mad, the methods and thought processes of these criminals never cease to amaze, although never in a good way. One case presented is the story of a woman who drowned all five of her children yet still lives to tell the tale, though it may not be one you’d want to hear.

Andrea Yates, a former resident of Houston, Texas was a troubled young girl.  She suffered from depression, which only became worse with age.  Despite that, she was incredibly intelligent and did very well in high school.  She even went on to become a nurse after college.  She married her now former husband, Rusty Yates, in 1993 and they went on to have five children together.  However, after their fourth child, things took a turn.  Her depression got worse, and she had to start taking antidepressants when she was diagnosed with postpartum depression.  Before the birth of her fifth child, she stopped taking her prescribed medication all together, losing much of the control she had previously regained in her life and reaching the point of an attempted suicide. Eventually, Yates could barely take care of her children. 

On May 3, 2001, she snapped.  She filled up a bathtub and tragically drowned all five of her children in the span of an hour.  The victims consisted of Noah Jacob (7) John Samuel (5), Paul Abraham (3), Luke David (2), and Mary Deborah (6 mos.).  After the murders, she called the cops, but didn’t reveal the situation. Through investigation, police discovered Yates had committed the crime and charged her.

She was found guilty, and was not granted her plea of insanity, as a psychiatrist determined she was able to tell right from wrong at the time of the crime.  However, many still wonder how someone in a suicidal state of mind was still allowed not only in public without supervision but also put in charge of five young lives. In her state, some argue, she should have been put in a mental institute to prevent her from trying to harm herself or others again.

Yates’ crime is simply one example of a wide number of crimes without a clear motive. The deaths of Noah, John, Paul, Luke, and Mary are tragic but the question still remains as to why the tragedy occurred. Are the twisted thoughts of a mother lacking mental health and refusing medication the only thing to blame or, like the presiding psychiatrist of the case determined, did Yates have other motives besides insanity. 

Story By:

Sarika Rao

Author, 14