June 30, 2001
They were the perfect couple from the point of view of the
Christian right. He had been a football star, a member of
the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She had decided to quit
her nursing job to stay home with the children. They opted
to home school so that they could promote their values to
them. The home was filled with religious artifacts and the
children were even given Biblical names. Noah, John, Paul,
Luke and Mary. The father coached one of the neighborhood
T-ball teams and had his players pray before and after games
They are the Yates family of Houston, TX. You might have
read about them.
They were married in 1993 and Andrea Yates had five children
in seven years. During those years she also bore much of the
responsibility of caring for a father who suffered from Alzheimers
disease. In 1999 Andrea attempted suicide by swallowing pills
that had been prescribed for her father. And still the children
kept coming. And one day last week she drowned her children,
all of them, laying each one on the bed after she killed them
and then chasing down the oldest before drowning him and leaving
him in the tub. She then called the police and her husband
to tell them what she had done.
We can all be absolutely horrified at what Andrea Yates did.
But if we are going to place blame in this case, surely Russell
(Rusty) Yates, the Christian Athlete, the NASA computer guru,
the man who prayed with his T-ballers, deserves his share.
When he arrived at his house after the killings the officer
who had interviewed his wife asked if he wanted a glass of
water. Yates calmly responded that that would be nice but
he didn’t think that there was a clean glass in the house.
Huh? His wife was so deeply and tragically depressed that
she couldn’t even keep a clean glass in a house where his
five children lived? And he had no clue that things were seriously
Did it ever occur to this idiot that maybe the pressures
converging on his wife were overwhelming her? Did it ever
occur to him to get her some help with the housework or maybe
send the kids to school so she wouldn’t have the added burden
of trying to educate one while changing the others diapers?
Why wasn’t Mrs. Yates in therapy? She was apparently being
treated by a family doctor with psychotropic drugs. Shouldn’t
she have been in counseling or didn’t the family believe in
that? Shortly before killing the children she was taken off
the powerful anti-psychotic drug Haldol.
And while we’re at it did the expression “birth control”
ever enter Mr. Yates pickled, Bible-thumping mind? After a
suicide attempt and two years of medication for depression
he knocked his wife up again, aggravating her already dangerous
psychological condition. Now a news report indicates that
she may yet be pregnant again.
Much of this goes back to the view of women that affects
a large portion of the Christian right. Females are there
to breed, keep house and take care of the kids and the breadwinner.
Their concerns and emotions are trivial. Read a little scripture
and you’ll feel better, honey. Andrea Yates should go to prison
or a facility for the criminally insane but her religious
athlete of a husband whose probably going to write a book
and hit the talk show circuit should be going with her.