History | Crime

The Preventable Tragedy That Left Five Children Dead And Their Mother On Trial For Murder

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To a great many people, the death of a child is one of the most tragic events that could possibly happen. While someone living to old age has meant they’ve at least been able to go out with a full life behind them, some children unfortunately only get to grace the Earth for a few years before their lives are tragically cut all too short. It’s a subject that saddens just about everybody.

Most parents are especially sensitive to the possibility, as they have to live every day with the fear that something could happen to their most precious treasures. Many parents I know can’t even watch a movie where a child dies without ending up a mess of tears, much less even entertain the thought of losing their own.

So, it stands to reason that it’s pretty unthinkable that a parent would ever want to willingly kill their own children, right? I mean, parents are supposed to be the first ones to throw their lives on the line to save their kids, what reason could they ever possibly have to take their lives instead?

Well, in 2001, we all got the shock of our lives when a mother was charged not just with murdering her five children, but with doing so in a way that was absolutely horrific. Her name was Andrea Yates, and her trial was one that the world will never forget. This is especially thanks to the fact that, in retrospect, the signs were all there.

The Beginning

Born in Hallsville, Texas in 1964, Yates was the youngest of five children, and by all accounts was pretty much the definition of the all-American student. She was her high school class valedictorian, captain of the swim team, and even an officer in the National Honor Society.

The Downward Spiral

However, she also had her first recorded brushes with mental illness as a teen too, something that would prove to come back throughout her life. She suffered from bulimia and clinical depression, and even described the desire to commit suicide to a friend at 17. These thoughts would ebb and flow even after her graduation from the University of Texas School of Nursing, and her marriage to her husband, Russell “Rusty” Yates.

Yates ended up having five children with her husband while they relocated between Texas and Florida several times, but trouble started to flare up after the birth of their fourth child, Luke.

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