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'They Died Horrible, Violent Deaths': Andrea Yates Drowned Her 5 Kids but Beat Murder Rap (FPD CASE VAULT)

Andrea Yates: She-Devil Drowned Her Kids but Beat the Rap for Murder
Source: AP Photo/Brett Coomer

Andrea Yates walks into the courtroom for a hearing Thursday, July 27, 2006, in Houston, where she was committed to the maximum-security North Texas State Hospital in Vernon, Texas.

Apr. 10 2024, Published 10:03 a.m. ET

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Andrea Yates horrified the nation as news emerged she ruthlessly killed her five young children.

In the throes of postpartum depression, Yates locked the doors to her house and methodically drowned her kids, 6-month-old Mary, Luke, 2, Paul, 3, John, 5, and Noah, 7, one by one in the bathtub while husband Rusty was at work at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

"The children fought for their lives," said the case's lead prosecutor Kaylynn Williford, "but they died horrible, violent deaths."

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Andrea Yates: She-Devil Drowned Her Kids but Beat the Rap for Murder
Source: ZUMA Press; Phillippe Diederich/Getty Images

The family portrait of Yates, her hubby Rusty and their kids (left to right) John, Luke, Paul and Noah hid the lurking horror. Baby Mary (right) was also killed.

When cops arrived at the Clean Lake, Texas, home, they found the four youngest children laid out on a bed. Noah, meanwhile, was still in the bathtub, floating face down.

The bookish-looking Yates claimed Satan controlled her when she held her children's heads under nine inches of water as they struggled.


She told a prison psychiatrist: "My children weren't righteous. They were doomed to perish in the fires of hell."

During her sensational trial in 2002, Yates pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. The jury rejected the defense and found her guilty of first-degree murder. Yates was sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole in 40 years.

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Andrea Yates: She-Devil Drowned Her Kids but Beat the Rap for Murder
Source: Pam Francis/Getty Images; David J. Phillip/AP

Haunted hubby Rusty Yates wandered through his dead children's toys at his Texas home (left). After divorcing Andrea, he wed Laura Arnold (right) in 2006.

But a Texas Court of Appeals overturned the conviction in January 2005 on the basis of "erroneous testimony" and ordered a second trial. That trial ended shockingly in a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. She was committed to North Texas State Hospital, a high security mental health facility.

In 2007, the now 59-year-old was moved to a lower level security state mental hospital, where she currently resides. Rusty divorced her and remarried in 2006.


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