Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Female Mass Murderers: Major Cases and Motives

Sending Them to Heaven

Andrea Yates
Andrea Yates

On the morning, of June 20, 2001, Andrea Yates was alone with her five children after her husband, Rusty, left for work. In less than two hours, her mother-in-law was due to arrive at her Houston, Texas, home. She'd already had a dress rehearsal, so to speak, filling the tub before, for no apparent reason, but no one in her family viewed her odd behavior at the time as a red flag.

Yates considered herself a bad mother for having led them astray and having allowed them to be rude to her mother-in-law.  It was a sign to her that their souls were in danger of going to hell.  If she worked fast, she might prevent that.  But at the very least, the state would execute her for the murders she was about to commit, and as she would later explain it, that would remove the devil from the world — the devil who visited her and inhabited her at times.  She knew that what she was doing was wrong in the world's eyes, and that would ensure that she would die, too.

Yates filled up the bathtub and started her grim morning's work with 3-year-old Paul. She went into the bathroom to fill up the bathtub for her grim morning's work.

After Paul, who was held underwater until he stopped struggling, came Luke, and John, Mary, and the last one was Noah.  When she was done, dripping and exhausted, she placed a call to 911 to tell the emergency operator to send an ambulance and the police.  Then she called Rusty to tell him that the children were gone.  He arrived home just after the police had ascertained that Andrea had indeed drowned her five children and placed four of them on a double bed, covering them with a sheet. In the bathtub, a young boy was submerged amid feces and vomit that floated on the surface.

The central question in this case was whether or not Andrea Pia Yates, 36, had killed the children while in a state of psychosis, or had knowingly done it to escape a life she hated. 

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