Editor's note: The following story is provided by KOTV's sister station, KREM in Spokane, WA.
After a week-long silence, the family of Spokane's suspected serial killer is coming forward with their own story about Robert Yates.
Yates, 47, of Spokane is in Spokane County Jail, charged with 1st degree murder for the death of Jennifer Joseph, 16, of Spanaway. On Monday, two of Yatesâ€™ sisters, Shirley Hess and Linda Welsh, met with Jeff Humphrey for an exclusive interview.
The KREM 2 News Team first met Robert Yatesâ€™ sisters after they visited him in the Spokane County Jail. They are hardly blind to the allegations against their brother but still sticking by his side in the face of adversity. After listening to sheriff's detectives and KREM 2 News broadcasts it's hard to think of Robert Yates as anything but a suspected killer.
That's why on Monday the two women decided to give up their privacy to balance our perceptions of Roberts Yates and the people who care for him.
It's clear these women still love their brother, even endured the indignity of visiting him in jail. But they know the hurt Robert Yates is accused of causing in our community, and they feel deeply for victim's families.
Both women have read the affidavit against their brother and are shocked by the allegations. They are uncertain of his guilt or innocence but clearly committed to supporting their little brother and his family no matter what the outcome.
At first, Robert Yatesâ€™ siblings didn't want to be on television. They hoped a written statement would speak up for their brother and offer condolences to his alleged victims. These ladies and the rest of Yatesâ€™ family have resisted interviews to this point worried anything they might say could jeopardize their brothers defense or seem insensitive to victim's families.
Then they realized their heart- felt claims would be most believable if you could see them. And so after a family meeting, they agreed to give up their privacy in support and defense of their brother.
They remember Robert Yates was a good uncle to their children. And now Robert Yates can count on his older sisters not to turn away from the allegations against him but not turn away from the man they know as Bobby either.
Following the interview, the sisters gave a statement on behalf of their family in regard to their brotherâ€™s arrest, and the event surrounding the serial killer investigation.
Here is the statement the sisters issued Monday:
"We, the family members of Robert L. Yates Jr., feel deeply shocked and saddened by the recent allegations directed toward our beloved son, brother, father and friend.
Bobby is a loving, caring and sensitive son; a fun loving and giving brother; and an understanding, generous and dedicated father, who enjoys playing ball, fishing and camping with his kids. Bobby is the type of person you would want to have for your best friend.
We feel deeply for the families who have experienced loss and for the community as a whole. We ask that all judgements be reserved until the timely due process of law has been completed."