Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Women Who Kill: Part Two

Deep Depression

After two children, Russell decided to "travel light," and made his small family live first in a recreational vehicle and then in a bus once used for a religious traveling crusade. Andrea didn't complain, but she had another child, making their 350 square foot living quarters rather cramped. She sank into a depression. In 1999, she tried to kill herself with a drug overdose, and Russell and Andrea's mother finally got her into treatment. Later she said she had just wanted to "sleep forever."

She was discharged "for insurance reasons" and then she got worse. She told psychiatrists that she was hearing voices and seeing visions about getting a knife. Then Russell found her in the bathroom one day pressing a knife to her throat. He took it away and got her hospitalized. She confessed to one doctor that she was afraid she might hurt someone. On the antipsychotic drug, Haldol, she improved slightly, and relatives pressured Russell to buy a house for his family. He did so.

Still, Andrea was secretive and seemingly obsessed with reading the Bible. Russell thought that was a good thing, and despite doctors' warnings to have no more children, they had a baby girl, Mary, late in 2000. Russell believed he'd spot the onset of depression and get help if needed.

When Andrea's father died a few months later, she stopped functioning. She wouldn't feed the baby, she became malnourished herself, and she drifted into a private world. Russell forced her into treatment under psychiatrist Mohammed Saeed. He received scanty medical records from her previous treatment and put Andrea on Haldol, then discontinued it. He had not heard from Russell — who claimed not to know — about her hallucinations, and he observed no psychosis himself, so he felt Haldol was unnecessary. After ten days, he discharged Andrea into her husband's care.

Russell's mother came to help, but Andrea wound up back in the hospital for depression. When she started to eat and shower, she was sent home, with the proviso that she continue outpatient therapy.

Russell was worried, but Saeed assured him that Andrea did not need shock treatment or Haldol. He reportedly told Andrea to "think positive thoughts," and to see a psychologist. However, he did warn Russell that she should not be left alone.

Andrea sat at home in a near-catatonic state, and to Russell, she seemed nervous. However, he did not think that she was a danger to the children, so he left her alone on the morning of June 20. His mother would be by in a few hours, so he felt sure everything would be okay.

How wrong he was. Once he'd left the house, Andrea began to fill the tub. She started with Paul, the three-year-old, holding him under water until he stopped struggling. Then came Luke, John and Mary, the youngest. The last one was Noah.

It was no sudden act; Andrea admitted later that she'd been considering it for several months. At times, she indicated that she'd done it because she was not a good mother, and at other times that the children were not developing normally and she had to save their souls while they were still young. Autopsies indicated from recent bruises that the boys had struggled, and the fist of one had frozen around a shank of Andrea's hair.

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