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The BBC's Nick Bryant
"Andrea Yates has been formally accused of capital murder"
 real 56k

The children's father, Russell Yates
"My heart sank when I heard the news"
 real 28k

Thursday, 21 June, 2001, 06:55 GMT 07:55 UK
US mother drowns all children in bath
Andrea Yates
Mrs Yates was being treated for post-natal depression
A 36-year-old Texas woman has been charged with murder after she confessed to drowning her five children in the bath.

Andrea Yates, who was reported to be receiving treatment for severe post-natal depression, called police to her suburban Houston home.

"When our responding officer arrived, he was met at the door by the woman, who was breathing heavily, and you could tell she was disturbed," a police spokesman said.

"At that time she said to the officer, 'I killed my children.'"

They were nice folks - the kids were very well behaved

Yates' neighbour
The officer was led to a back bedroom and found a sheet with four dead children on it.

"It's difficult to deal with when you are talking about five little kids who were killed, probably systematically," said police spokesman John Cannon.

A fifth child was found in the bath.

The children were aged six months to seven years.

Neighbours stunned

The news stunned the well-to-do neighbourhood of Clear Lake, near Houston's Johnson Space Centre.

Russell Yates
Russell Yates works at the Johnson Space Centre
"They were nice folks," one neighbour said. "The kids were very well behaved."

Another, Pat Salas, said she had invited the Yateses to a child's party over the weekend. Ms Yates' husband told Ms Salas that she would not be coming because she had "depression from having babies".

A police spokesman said Mr Yates, who works at the space centre, arrived home at the same time as the police team.

You'd better come home

Andrea Yates to husband
His wife had called him at work saying simply "you'd better come home".

Mrs Yates was taken to county jail and charged with multiple counts of murder late on Wednesday.

The maximum sentence, if convicted, is death by lethal injection.

According to US television reports, the Texas Department of Child Protective Services says they were informed two years ago that Mrs Yates had tried to kill herself.

The department decided the children were not in danger, the reports said.

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See also:

21 Jun 01 | Americas
Neighbours' shock at baby killings
19 Nov 99 | Scotland
Trusts 'ignoring' depression advice
28 Sep 99 | Health
Massage beats baby blues
12 Mar 99 | Health
Depressed mums 'need more help'
21 Jun 01 | Health
Post-natal depression
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