Andrea Yates, Who Drowned Her 5 Kids, Waives Release From Mental Facility

Nearly 21 years ago, the world was shaken by the story of Andrea Yates, a mother of five who confessed to drowning her children, one by one, in her home after her husband left for work.
On June 20, 2001, Andrea called police to her Houston home, but did not say why. She was calm on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, which led police to be that much more shocked when they found Andrea's children, 7-year-old Noah, 5-year-old John, 3-year-old Paul, 2-year-old Luke, and 6-month-old Mary, all drowned. After the 911 call, she called her husband Rusty and told him to come home. When he arrived, he was devastated to discover his children were dead.

Andrea's case opened up conversations about postpartum mental health after it was revealed she suffered from postpartum depression and psychosis, as well as schizophrenia. Today, Andrea is continuing mental health treatment at the same facility she's been since 2007.
Andrea was initially charged with two counts of capital murder in the deaths of Noah, John, and Mary and put on trial. Her defense team argued that the mom's mental illness led her to kill her children, going through her two-year history of suicide attempts, depression, and mental health medications. They recommended treatment rather than incarceration, but she was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Andrea's mental health continued to decline after her incarceration. She was placed on suicide watch after refusing to eat on one occasion. Her team appealed her conviction and in 2005, it was reversed. In January 2006, Andrea pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in her second trial.
State District Judge Belinda Hill approved a $200,000 bond on the condition that Andrea voluntarily commit herself to the Rusk State Hospital for psychiatric treatment. The retrial found Andrea not guilty by reason of insanity and she was ordered to a mental facility.

Andrea has been at Kerrville State Hospital, a mental facility in Kerrville, Texas, since January 2007. Each year, Andrea is eligible for a review of her circumstances for release. She has declined the review every year since 2008. She continues her treatment instead.
In February 2014, Yates and her doctors requested that she be allowed to attend supervised group outings with other patients. The request was later withdrawn after extreme public scrutiny.

"She's where she wants to be. Where she needs to be," Andrea's defense attorney, George Parnham, told ABC News in June 2021.

"And I mean, hypothetically, where would she go? What would she do?"

Andrea and Rusty divorced in 2005. They are still in contact, with Rusty calling her once a month. He told Oprah Winfrey in 2015 he'd forgiven Andrea.

"Forgiveness kind of implies that I have ever really blamed her," he explained.

"In some sense I've never really blamed her because I've always blamed her illness."
Andrea's attorney says that she still mourns her children all these years later. She is able to watch old home videos of her children and Rusty even allowed in their divorce that she could be buried with them when she dies.

"There's not a day that goes by where she doesn't care for, talk about, is happy about her children's lives before June 20 and grieves for her children," Parnham noted.

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