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Ed Lavandera: Houston community copes with children's deaths


(CNN) -- Andrea Yates, 36, telephoned Houston police Wednesday morning and asked for a police officer. When he arrived, she told him she had "just killed my children."

She led the officer to a bedroom where the bodies of four of her five children were covered with a sheet; a second officer later discovered the body of the fifth child in the bathtub.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in the Houston suburb of Clear Lake, where news of the tragedy has spread in hushed and solemn tones.

CNN: What's next for Andrea Yates?

LAVANDERA: Andrea Yates has been charged with capital murder in the deaths of her five children, ranging in age from 6 months to 9 years. She is now in custody at a temporary facility next to the Harris County Jail, where she will remain until tomorrow afternoon. At that time, she will appear in court for arraignment, and will enter a plea.

Husband supports wife accused in kids' death  
Houston police spokesman Robert Hurst announces capital murder charges against Andrea Yates (June 20)

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CNN: Is there any word of what Mrs. Yates has told police? Does she have an attorney present?

LAVANDERA: No, we have no indication of what that might be. Police have said that she is talking with them, cooperating with them, but they have given no indication of what she has said.

We have no information that an attorney has picked up the case and been present.

CNN: What has the father said?

LAVANDERA: The father, Russell Yates, works at the Johnson Space Center. He was called by police, or actually, Mrs. Yates called him and told him he'd "better come home," which he did. Police were already on the scene when he got there. He has spoken with police, not as a suspect in any way.

On Wednesday afternoon, he packed a suitcase and left the house, and he has not been seen since.

CNN: Do we know how long the Yateses lived in Clear Lake?

LAVANDERA: No, but neighbors have said that they were a quiet family, although they were often seen playing in the driveway and Mrs. Yates was seen taking the children to the park.

We're trying to find some other family members but haven't found any yet.

CNN: Has the mention of postpartum depression as a possible cause for Mrs. Yates' actions spurred any discussion in the community about the disease or about access to mental health care?

LAVANDERA: Not that we've heard, but we've been busy here at the house.

A lot of people, young parents in particular, have come by the house, and they've left flowers and prayers by a tree in the yard. They seem, the young parents, worried about how such a thing could have happened, and what that might mean in their own lives.

There was a 30-year-old father who came by and said he was tired of watching on the television, and wanted to come down here and do something.

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