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The BBC's Nick Bryant in Houston
"The oldest was seven, the youngest just six months old"
 real 56k

Friday, 22 June, 2001, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
Account of Texan child murders published
Andrea Yates
Mrs Yates was being treated for post-natal depression
A Texan woman's account of how she drowned her five children, one after the other, has been published.

The description of the killings given by Andrea Yates to police investigators has appeared in the Houston Chronicle newspaper.

Quoting an unnamed investigator, the paper said Mrs Yates told police she drowned four of the children before chasing the last one, a seven-year-old son, through the house.

I think that she obviously wasn't herself and that will come out

Russell Yates
Mrs Yates, aged 36, then drowned him in the bathtub next to the body of his six-month-old sister, the paper reported.

Immediately after the murders on Wednesday, Mrs Yates called her husband and the police to her home in a suburb of Houston.

The account follows an emotional pledge from Mrs Yates' husband, Russell, to help his wife through the ordeal, blaming her actions on the effects of severe depression.

Russell Yates, who arrived at the same time as the police, said his wife was "disturbed" when she met the responding officer, telling him: "I killed my children."

'She loves our kids'

"One side of me blames her because she did it, but the other side of me says she didn't... She wasn't in the right frame of mind," Mr Yates told reporters.

Russell Yates
Russell Yates: "She loved these kids"
"She loves our kids," he said. "Anybody who knew her knew that."

The newspaper account described how the couple's 7-year-old son Noah came into the bathroom while his mother was drowning his baby sister, Mary.

"What's wrong with Mary?" the police report quoted Noah as asking.

A police source, who said he had viewed Mrs Yates videotaped statement, said she told investigators she first killed two year-old Luke; before drowning Paul, three, and John, five.

Police arrested and charged Mrs Yates on Wednesday.

The maximum sentence, if convicted, is death by lethal injection. Prosecutors have not yet said whether they will seek the death penalty.

'Downward spiral'

Mr Yates - a computer specialist with space agency Nasa - said his wife had been on medication, and had gone "spiralling downward" after the death of her father.

She was reportedly diagnosed as suffering from severe post-natal depression, and had also attempted suicide.

"I think that she obviously wasn't herself and that will come out," said Mr Yates.

Psychologist Ann Dunnewold said post-natal depression was known to develop into psychosis if something dramatic occurs, such as marital problems or a death in the family.

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Analysis: US law and infanticide
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21 Jun 01 | Health
Post-natal depression
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