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NEWSPAPER: Woman tells police of methodically killing children, chasing down 7-year-old

Updated:

HOUSTON (AP) _ The mother who allegedly drowned her five children one by one in a bathtub told police the oldest one tried to escape but she chased him through the house, the Houston Chronicle reported.

In the videotaped interview with police, Andrea Yates described how she methodically killed the children Wednesday, the newspaper said Thursday in its online edition. It quoted an unidentified police investigator as saying she spoke in a ``zombie-like fashion.''

Ms. Yates, a former nurse, told police that 2-year-old Luke was the first child to be drowned, followed by Paul, 3, and John, 5. After each child died, Yates recounted on the videotape, she carried their bodies into a bedroom, put them on a bed and covered them with a sheet.

She said 7-year-old Noah walked into the bathroom and saw her holding the youngest child, 6-month-old Mary.

``What's wrong with Mary?'' Noah asked his mother, according to the account.

Ms. Yates told police she chased Noah through the house, dragged him back to the bathroom and drowned him next to Mary, the investigator told the newspaper.

Noah's body was found in the bathtub, the others in the bedroom.

The 36-year-old mother was charged late Wednesday with capital murder in their deaths. She briefly appeared in court Friday, and State District Judge Belinda Hill told her an attorney would be appointed for her.

On Thursday, her husband, Russell Yates, clutched a family portrait as he talked about how postpartum depression had gripped his wife after the birth of their fourth child and again after Mary was born. Yates works as a computer specialist at NASA.

``She loved these kids,'' Yates said, recalling how on Valentine's Day she gave her children handmade heart-shaped booklets filled with coupons for hugs or favorite games. ``I want to show her I love her and support her.''

He said he and Noah had posted a list of techniques to help her deal with her stress on a board inside the family's suburban Houston home. He thought the medication his wife was taking would help her snap out of it.

``I think that she obviously wasn't herself and that will come out,'' Yates said. ``Everyone who knows her knew she loved the kids. She is a kind, gentle person. What you see here and what you saw yesterday, it's not her.''

Yates said his wife didn't show signs of depression until Luke was born. She attempted suicide, but eventually was put on medication and made what he thought was a full recovery, he said.

``She was fine from that time until a few months after she had our fifth child,'' he said. ``Her dad passed away about three months after we had our baby girl and that just sent her spiraling down.''

Ann Dunnewold, a Dallas psychologist, said postpartum depression may evolve into postpartum psychosis if something dramatic occurs, such as marital problems or a death in the family.

Postpartum psychosis, the most severe form of postpartum depression, affects mothers after one or two of every 1,000 births, said Laurence Kruckman, a professor of medical anthropology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

``If you are in that category, there is a high likelihood of hallucinations,'' said Kruckman, who heads Postpartum Support International. ``Mothers hear voices that say kill yourself or kill the baby, or both.''
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