Andrea Yates Paper
Andrea Yates drowned her five children in a bathtub in her home. This was very disturbing news. I am a native Houstonian. I was at home that day. The television was on and will never forget the news breaking announcements that broke the story of a homicide in Clear Lake. All the information the reporters had was a mother killed all her children then called the police to report it. The full story and the details that lead to this tragedy did not unfold until years later.
It was sad because as details unfolded if Andrea Yates had been treated properly and followed her doctors recommendations the whole situation might have been avoided. Andrea Yates had a history of mental illness in her family. It has been written that her father, a brother and a sister have suffered from depression. Andrea also has another brother that has been diagnosed with a bipolar personality disorder. With this type of history of mental illness in her family it really is not a shocking revelation that Andrea would develop a mental illness.
Andrea Yates’s first display of mental illness was just after the birth of her first child in February of 1994. She stated after her arrest that she had “visions” of someone being stabbed with a knife. She was said to have been suffering from post partum depression in 1999 when she was admitted to the psychiatric unit of The Methodist Hospital after a failed suicide attempt. While in the psychiatric unit Andrea Yates was found to have been non-verbal and severely depressed. There are times that she would take her medications and then she would refuse to take them a day later.
She was prescribed medications like Zoloft and Zyprexa. Andrea attended group therapy sessions during her stay there and was said to have days that displayed some slight improvement and then she would revert to her nonverbal state. Eventually she was released but it was noted by her doctor that she was still depressed but not suicidal. While at home, Andrea’s mental state did not appear to improve. She stays in bed all day, begins self mutilating, scratching bald spots on her head, and scraping her legs and arms. She discloses to her husband, Rusty, that she having hallucinations.
For their own reasons, the Yates couple does not discuss the hallucinations with Andrea’s doctors during outpatient or inpatient treatments. Andrea was also experiencing other symptoms of schizophrenia. These symptoms include her belief that that there are cameras in her home watching her and that television cartoon characters are communicating with directly to her. She became anti social with an array of other symptoms that included flat affect, poverty of speech and loss of directedness. Andrea and Rusty Yates were warned about continuing to have children.
They were told it would not be a good situation for Andrea to become pregnant because her post partum depression would worsen and might include a worsened state of psychosis. The couple did not listen to the warnings of the doctors and they continue to have children. Andrea’s condition only worsened with each pregnancy as she still continued to go on and off her medications. Her mental state continued to deteriorate, to make matter worse for Andrea she experienced the loss of the father. Andrea was already in a frail state of mind, she had said that she felt that she was a failure as a mother.
In her mind killing her children would guarantee that their souls would go to heaven. So rather than risk them going down the wrong path in life, she saved her children (in her mind) by drowning them in the bathtub of their home. The Andrea Yates court case was very interesting because it brought to light the details of a how Andrea got to the state of mind she was in. It let people in to her world. We got to hear how her life had changed after the birth of her first child. How her marriage was not a source of comfort but a source of pressure and stress.
She was under a lot of stress to be an obedient wife to her husband and a good mother that home schooled her children while leading them down the path of righteousness. Her mental health was treated but I don’t feel that anyone appreciated the severity of her illness. Rusty Yates even admitted that on the witness stand. Her first trial verdict was guilty. This occurred in the month of March of 2002. She was not given the death penalty but sentenced to life in prison. Honestly, I felt this was not what she deserved. She was being punished for been a suicidal depressed schizophrenic who was never able to fully benefit from treatment.
I remember thinking wouldn’t it be punishment enough for her to have to wake up one day with a clear mind and realize what happened. How can one possibly stay sane or get proper treatment incarcerated? Forward a few years to 2006. With a very prominent legal team working on her behalf, Andrea gets what seems to be a miracle. After her murder conviction was thrown out due to erroneous testimony Andrea Yates was once again was standing trail for the murders of her children. Andrea and her family were forced again to relive the situations and details that lead up to that fatal morning in 2001.
The trail was different for this time she was found not guilty by reason of insanity. This meant that she would not have to back to a prison but instead be sent to a state maximum security hospital where she will remain until she is determined not to be a danger to herself or others. Once she has made enough progress and improvement, she can then be moved to another mental health facility in the state. While there is nothing in the world that would bring back the Yates children, I feel Andrea Yates got the justice she ultimately deserved.
She was not the average hardened criminal but a loving, religious wife and mother who just happen to fall victim to a mental illness in which she had no control over. This case was a very instrumental because it helped bring to light that mental illness like post partum depression should not be taken lightly. The victims of mental illness aren’t just going to “snap out of it” one day. They need to seek treatment and help because ignoring an issue like mental illness might result in a tragedy that could have been avoided.