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Newspapers tell how mother allegedly killed kids

The father of the slain children attended a vigil outside his home Friday night  

HOUSTON, Texas (CNN) -- The woman accused of killing her five children got a jailhouse visit from her husband on the same day a Houston newspaper reported she told investigators how she had to chase down and drag one son to his death.

Friday's Houston Chronicle reported on Andrea Yates' admission of the killings to a police investigator, who told the newspaper she revealed the disturbing details in a "zombie-like fashion."

The investigator told the Chronicle that Yates "methodically drowned her five children one by one in a bathtub."

The newspaper reported that when 7-year-old Noah came upon the body of his 6-month-old sister floating in the bathtub, he asked his mother, "What's wrong with Mary?" Then he fled.

The paper quotes the investigator as saying Yates said she chased the boy and dragged him back to the bathtub, where he was drowned.

Another newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, quoted someone close to the investigation who said Yates told investigators she had been thinking of killing her children for months.

A police official said Yates said she realized she was a bad mother and felt the children were disabled -- that they were not developing normally, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Late Friday, about 150 people gathered near the family's home for a candlelight vigil, the Associated Press reported. Neighbors gathered in a nearby yard while friends and family sat with Russell Yates in his yard.

"My wife, she's really suffering, and I just ask that you say a prayer for her because she needs it. She's suffering right now," Russell Yates said as tears welled up in his eyes and he had difficulty speaking, the Associated Press reported.

The crowd began singing "Amazing Grace" as Yates completed his remarks.

Yates earlier Friday met with her husband, her mother, brothers and the lawyer her family has hired to defend her against a charge of capital murder.

"She's doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances, which I know you understand are extreme," said attorney George Parnham.

"The family is extremely supportive," he said. "They are unified in seeing her through this process."

Russell Yates, father of 5 slain children in Houston, Texas, talks about the tragedy (June 21)

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Houston prosecutor 'never seen anything like this'
June 22, 2001
Ed Lavandera: Houston community copes with children's deaths  
Mother in custody after 5 children found dead  (KPRC)

Parnham refused to discuss Yates' visit with her husband or other members of her family, their first meeting since the killings.

He also said would not be making under more statements until funeral services were held for Yates' children. He said they were tentatively set for Wednesday morning at Clear Lake Church of Christ, about 20 miles southeast of Houston.

Yates appeared only briefly before a judge in a Houston court earlier Friday.

"I've been here 15 years ... this is the most horrendous thing that I have ever seen," prosecutor Joe Owmby said of the crime.

Police said Wednesday Yates confessed to drowning her baby daughter and four young sons before summoning authorities to her home.

Officers found the small bodies of Luke, 2, Paul, 3, John, 5, and 6-month-old Mary with a sheet over them on a bed in one room. The body of Noah was still in the bathtub.

She has been charged with capital murder and under Texas law she could face the death penalty if convicted.

Owmby explained the capital murder charge is for killing two people in the same action, her sons Noah and John. That is the only charge against Yates at this time, but he said more charges for the other three deaths could come later.


Harris County prosecutor Kaylynn Williford said Yates' next court appearance has been set for July 24. It is unclear what her defense will be, or if the prosecution will seek the death penalty.

Owmby said his office would be examining circumstances surrounding the deaths of the children to decide what penalty to seek.

The court had earlier appointed an attorney to represent her, but the family hired Parnham.

After her initial appearance before a Harris County judge on Friday, Yates met with her court-appointed attorney Bob Scott. He filed a motion before the Houston court seeking a gag order in the case. The judge has not ruled on the motion.

Red-eyed and sometimes fighting to maintain his composure, the father of the children, NASA computer engineer Russell Yates, told reporters on Thursday he supports his wife because she had been battling postpartum depression and he believed she "wasn't herself." (More on Russell Yates' comments)

"She loved our kids," Yates said, holding a family portrait and describing his wife of eight years as a "kind, gentle person."

"One side of me blames her because she did it, but the other side says she didn't because that wasn't her," he said. "She wasn't in her right frame of mind. She loved our kids. Anybody that knew her knew that."

Andrea Yates is being held without bond. Authorities said she is cooperating with investigators and answering their questions.

CNN's Jeff Flock contributed to this report.


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