What pushes a mother to kill her kids? The atrocious act of killing one’s child is unthinkable for any parent, and yet, each year in the United States, more than 200 women murder their own flesh and blood, according to the American Anthropological Association.
This story you’re about to hear below is one of the most unforgettable and horrific cases of maternal filicide (the act of a parent killing their own child) we have ever heard. It’s incredibly difficult to imagine that someone could be capable of committing such a horrific act.
On June 20, 2001, Andrea Yates woke up in the morning, filled the bathtub with water and drowned all five of her children one by one in Clear Lake, Texas. Then, she phoned her husband, Rusty, a computer specialist at NASA, and urged him to come home before calling the police.
“I just killed my kids,” she told them.
When police arrived, they discovered all five lifeless little bodies ceremoniously laid out on the bed.
It was a case that shocked their family and the entire world.
Following her arrest, she told authorities the only reason she drowned her children was to protect them. The deeply religious mother claimed the voice of demons drove her to murder her kids. She believe that by killing them, even though it was against the law, would save their innocent souls.
“My children were not righteous,” Yates said. “I let them stumble. They were doomed to perish in the fires of hell.”
According to Debra M. Osterman, a psychiatrist with the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority, Yates suffered from psychotic major depression. She had previously been treated for acute postpartum depression after giving birth to her fourth child and again after her fifth.
During her trial, Yates pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. However, it only took jurors less than four hours to reject that defense and find her guilty of two counts of capital murder in the deaths of her sons, Noah and John, and her baby girl, Mary. She was not tried in the deaths of her two other boys.
How could anyone on that trial even look at a bathtub without thinking of those poor children?
On July 26, 2006, her conviction was overturned, and a second jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity. That’s when she was released from prison and placed in a psychiatric hospital, where she remains today.
Do you think she was a cold-blooded killer for what she did, or just a severely mentally ill person?