The prosecution in the trial of Andrea Yates argued that she may have drowned her four young sons and infant daughter in the family bathtub as a kind of symbolic revenge for the emptiness of her life with their father, Randy. However, as shocking as the June 20, 2001 drownings were, much of the speculation was over Yates' mental condition. Did the fact that she had five children, each spaced about two years apart, have anything to do with mental illness, brought on perhaps by repetitive post-partum depression? And what of her conservative Christian husband and the home-schooling of the children? How much time did the young mother have to herself? Absent from Yates was the viciousness of Susan Smith, who had locked her two young sons in a car on Oct. 25, 1994, let them slide into a lake, all in order to be free to run off with a wealthy lover. Instead, the focus was the insidiousness of mental illness. Yates confessed to the murders and would undergo two trials. The first rejected insanity as a defense and sent her to prison for life. An appeal gave her a second trial in which she was found not guilty by reason of insanity. She has since been committed to a mental health facility. Her husband has remarried.
From the Archive:
The Yates Odyssey