- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 21, 2001

HOUSTON — A 36-year-old former psychiatric patient drowned her five small children here yesterday morning, then calmly called the police.

Police officers in the southeast Houston community called Clear Lake were shocked by the news — as were many Americans who learned of the details of the grisly murders later in the day.

A local Children´s Protective Services spokesman said the mother, Andrea Yates, had been treated at a Harris County psychiatric hospital in 1999 for an attempted suicide.

Police spokesman John Cannon said Mrs. Yates telephoned her husband at about 10 a.m. yesterday after drowning her children, then dialed the police.

It was not immediately known what transpired in the conversations.

"When our responding officer arrived, he was met at the door by the woman who was breathing heavily," said Mr. Cannon. He said, "You could tell she was disturbed."

Mr. Cannon added that at the moment the officer arrived at the door, "she said to the officer, 'I killed my children.´"

Asked by the officer where her children were, Mrs. Yates purportedly led him to the children´s bedroom, where the bodies of four children, aged 6 months to 5 years, lay covered with a sheet. The youngest was a baby girl, Marie. The others were Luke, 2, Paul, 3, and John, 5.

A second policeman arriving on the scene a few minutes later found another child, the oldest, 7-year-old Noah, dead in the bathtub. The mother had not mentioned Noah during what one officer said was "a rather incoherent questioning."

Later she was led grim-faced to a waiting patrol car and jailed at the Harris County lockup. Mrs. Yates showed little remorse as she was handcuffed and led to the police vehicle.

"It´s just unimaginable," said Mr. Cannon. "It´s difficult to deal with when you are talking about five little kids who were killed, probably, systematically."

The children´s father was given sedation as he arrived at the scene. "I never thought it would come to anything like this," he mumbled to a neighbor.

He was not allowed inside the house, Mr. Cannon said, because of the need to protect the crime scene for investigators.

The neighbor with whom Mr. Yates spoke, Pat Salas, said the Yates family was "a lovely family, wonderful kids."

Last Saturday, three of the young boys and Mr. Yates had attended a birthday party at the Salas home. Mrs. Yates did not attend.

"He [the husband] said she was terribly depressed," Mrs. Salas said.

She showed reporters a videotape of the party, with the three Yates boys and their father apparently enjoying the occasion, especially the breaking of a pinata.

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