Who is Andrea Yates? Texas mom drowned her 5 children in bathtub believing she was Satan saving them from hell

The Investigation Discovery documentary 'The Crimes That Changed Us' revisits the shocking 2001 case. Here's what happened


                            Who is Andrea Yates? Texas mom drowned her 5 children in bathtub believing she was Satan saving them from hell
This undated family photo shows four of the five children of Andrea Yates, 36, who confessed on June 20, 2001, to murdering her children by drowning them

HOUSTON TEXAS: Almost two decades ago, the city of Houston was rocked by the case of Andrea Yates, who methodically drowned her four sons and a daughter because she believed that Satan resided in her and that if she killed her children before they turned 10, all of them would go to heaven and that she was saving them from hell. 

The Investigation Discovery documentary 'The Crimes That Changed Us' revisited the shocking case of Andrea. On June 20, 2001, Andrea drowned her five children while being left alone with them at the house. She had filled a bathtub with water as soon as her husband, Russel, left the house. In the hour between Russel leaving and her mother arriving, Andrea brought her children to the bathtub one by one and drowned them. The oldest was eight and the youngest still an infant.

She started by drowning her sons Luke, Paul, and John. She laid them out on her bed once they were dead. Then Andrea drowned Mary, her youngest child. When Noah, the eldest son, walked in and asked what was wrong with his sister who was floating in the bathtub, Andrea proceeded to drown him too. He struggled to get away from her but Andrea caught him and pushed him into the water. She then calmly dialed 911 and confessed what she had done. Law enforcement escorted Andrea out of the house in a catatonic state. 

Andrea Yates enters the courtroom followed by her attorney George Parnham to hear the verdict in her retrial July 26, 2006 in Houston. (Getty Images)

Dr. Phillip Resnick examined Andrea twice during her imprisonment and testified that she faced “a cruel dilemma which turned upside down her sense of right and wrong.” Andrea had told him during one of the sessions that she believed by killing her children she was saving them from an eternity in Hell. Apparently, Andrea believed that being a bad mother made her a Satanic person and that her evil would pass on to her children if she didn’t end their lives. 

One month after Andrea drowned her five children, she was also questioned by Dr. Lucy Puryear in a videotaped session that was played during the original trial, and later the clip was released to the media, ABC News reported. Puryear was seen asking Andrea, "What did you think would happen to the children when they were killed? What did you think would happen?" to which she replied, "In their innocence, they'd go to heaven." When the doctor pressed her with the question, "They'd go to heaven?" Andrea answered, "Yeah." When she was asked, "You were worried about them going to hell?" Andrea simply nodded. In reply to the question, "You thought that was a possibility?" Andrea said, "I just thought since they were so young..."

Andrea and her husband followed the preachings of Michael Woroniecki. The Christian missionary met Russell when the latter was studying math and headed for a career in the space program. They stayed in touch after Russell went to work at Johnson Space Center in Houston and married then-Andrea Kennedy, who was a nurse and began having a family. In keeping with the Woroniecki lifestyle, Russell proceeded to live for a time on a bus, seeing his wife as his helpmate and home-schooling their children.

 

FILE PHOTO: This undated family photo shows four of the five children of Andrea Yates, 36, who confessed on June 20, 2001 to murdering her children by drowning them in their home in Clear Lake, a suburb of south Houston, Texas. (Getty Images)

 

Woroniecki, who preached that everyone is doomed to hell unless he or she finds Jesus and that salvation is not possible through organized religion, has wandered the globe with his family for more than 25 years, touting his preachings on street corners and college campuses and often getting arrested for his confrontational tactics. One theory behind Andrea's motive for murdering her children was said to be her highly religious nature. That combined with the long history of mental illness is said to have pushed her over the edge. 

"Some of Andrea's delusions had their roots in some of the things that were said by these people," Rusell had said after Andrea got arrested. Woroniecki, however, denied the blame despite being devastated by the tragedy. He said he simply delivered God's message and that the Yateses, particularly Russell, misinterpreted it. "If someone was to say, when I look back, would I have talked to Andrea and said the same things, I would say, of course. There's nothing I would change," the preacher said, Orlando Sentinel reported. 

Since Andrea wasn't declared legally insane at the time, she was found guilty of two counts of capital murder and sentenced to life imprisonment on March 12, 2002. In the same year, the Andrea Children’s Memorial Fund was established in honor of Andrea's children and the hope of raising awareness of postpartum depression and psychosis. On January 6, 2005, the Texas First Court of Appeals reversed Andrea's capital murder conviction due to erroneous testimony by psychiatrist Park Dietz which risked prejudicing the jury. 

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