Globe and Mail

Father remembers 5 children

Associated Press with Reuters
Thursday, June 28, 2001

The Globe and Mail

HOUSTON -- The father of five children whose mother is accused of drowning them choked with grief as he spoke at their funeral service yesterday. He then placed a blanket next to each child's body before their coffins were closed.

"I can't possibly tell you everything there is to know about each one of them," Russell Yates told 300 mourners at the Clear Lake Church of Christ, a few blocks from the family home. "But I can give you a glimpse of who they were."

Seven-year-old Noah, he said, was intelligent, independent and a lover of bugs; John, 5, was rough-and-tumble with a great smile; three-year-old Paul was the most well-behaved; two-year-old Luke was the troublemaker, the one most likely to challenge boundaries; and six-month-old Mary was the "princess" of the family.

"If the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, that's exactly what He's done," Mr. Yates, 36, said. "He gave me all these children and now He's taken them away."

The children's mother, Andrea Yates, remained in jail under a 24-hour suicide watch. She was said to be suffering from postpartum depression at the time of the killings. She has been charged with capital murder and could face the death penalty.

Her lawyer, George Parnham, said Ms. Yates is receiving medication in jail, but is in a "deeply psychotic state." A Houston judge imposed a gag order on the case Tuesday, saying she feared it would be difficult to get an unbiased jury.

Police were called to the Yates's suburban Houston home on June 20 and found the bodies of the four youngest children still wet under a sheet on a bed. Noah was found in the bathtub. Police say Ms. Yates, 36, confessed to the slayings.

Ms. Yates said she thought about killing the children for months because she believed she was a bad mother, a newspaper reported.

Copyright 2001 Globe Interactive, a division of Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc.