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Archive for Saturday, June 30, 2001

Mother of drowned children says she ‘has the devil in her’

June 30, 2001

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— Andrea Pia Yates, the Houston mother accused of drowning her five children, told her relatives from jail that she believed she "has the devil in her," her brother Andrew Kennedy said Friday.

The 36-year-old mother has been largely unresponsive during brief family visits since her arrest at her Clear Lake home last week but asked visiting siblings on Wednesday whether her children had been buried and told them during a Sunday visit that she feared she was possessed, he said.

"We were trying to pray with her. She said, 'I think the devil's in me.' She asked me and my brother, 'How long do you think the devil's been in me?' " Kennedy said. "I guess she's looking for answers as to why she did what she did."

Kennedy added that his family had been increasingly worried about his sister's mental health over the last six months, and one of her longtime friends was concerned enough that she kept a detailed diary of Mrs. Yates' severe emotional decline.

The family feared she might kill herself, but "we never dreamed she'd kill our kids," he said.

Yates called police to her family's Clear Lake home June 20 and led them to the bodies of her five children, ages 6 months to 7 years. She later gave police a 90-minute statement in which she said she drowned them one by one in the bathtub, an official said.

She also explained that she killed the children because she thought she was a bad mother and they were hopelessly developmentally damaged.

Her husband, NASA engineer Russell Yates, has said that he believed his wife was suffering from "psychotic side effects" of post-partum depression.

Kennedy, Mrs. Yates' oldest brother, said Friday that she began receiving treatment for her emotional problems this spring after she put a knife to her throat while visiting her mother's house and threatened to kill herself.

She was first treated for depression after trying to kill herself in June 1999 with an overdose of her late father's Alzheimer medications.

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