It’s Crazy

Andrea Yates and the insanity of the insanity defense.

AT 1:06 P.M. ON THE AFTERNOON of June 20, 2001, Houston police sergeant Eric Mehl turned on a tape recorder in an interview room in the homicide division and began to take the confession of Andrea Yates, who earlier that day had drowned her five children, ranging from six months to seven years old, in her own bathtub. In response to Mehl’s questions, Yates told how the day began normally: She got up a little after eight o’clock, fed the children cereal for breakfast, and said good-bye to her husband, Rusty, when he left for work around nine. Then she filled the bathtub with water, about three inches from the top. Mehl got straight to the point:

“About three inches from the top,” he said. “Um, after you drew the bathwater, what was your intent?”
“Drown the children,” she replied.
“Okay. Why were you going to drown the children?”
The transcript reads, “15 seconds of silence.”
“Was it in reference to, or was it because the children had done something?” he asked.
“No,” said Yates.
“You were not mad at the children?”
“No.”
“Okay, um, you had thought of this prior to this day?”
“Yes.”
“Um, how long have you been having thoughts about wanting, or not wanting to, but drowning your children?”
“Probably since I realized I have not been a good mother to them.”

As you can see from perusing the pages of this issue on crime, Texas has provided the world with many a sensational murder story. But the case of Andrea Yates may be the most disturbing of all.

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