Otherworldly

A loving mother drowned her children. It's hard to believe no one could stop her.

Walking in, Noah asked, "What happened to Mary?" His mother put him in the tub, alongside the body of his dead sister. Noah struggled the most, in fact he briefly got away. Back in the water, he continued the fight, breaking the surface of the water to gasp for air twice. Andrea then took Mary out and put her on the bed, curving John's left arm around his baby sister's body. Noah was left behind in the undrained tub.

Andrea believed her children "were doomed to perish in the fires of hell," according to psychiatrist Dr. Melissa Ferguson. Andrea told Ferguson she was a bad mother and had not raised her children to be righteous. By drowning them, she thought she could save them from hell, Ferguson testified.

Ferguson, psychiatric services director at the county jail, interviewed Andrea the day after her arrest, and found her to be one of the "sickest" patients she had ever treated for major depression with psychosis. Andrea believed she was marked by Satan or that she was Satan himself, Ferguson said.

As Andrea Yates descended deeper into psychosis, she was convinced her children were doomed.
David Terrill
As Andrea Yates descended deeper into psychosis, she was convinced her children were doomed.
As Andrea Yates descended deeper into psychosis, she was convinced her children were doomed.
David Terrill
As Andrea Yates descended deeper into psychosis, she was convinced her children were doomed.


A common theme in science fiction and an increasingly contemplated possibility in science is that of parallel universes -- universes separated from us not by light-years of distance and travel, but by dimensions.

These universes are said to exist quietly right alongside our own and to be just like ours, with little twists and variations.

Faced with the awful reality of the Yates case, it's hard to resist the comforts of indulging in alternate-universe scenarios instead of the one being played out in Judge Belinda Hill's 230th District Court.

In one alternate universe, Noah is able to get away from his mother as he runs in wild terror down the hall, flings open the front door and shouts for help. He is the sole surviving child, and he goes on to do great things in his life.

In another alternate universe, Rusty Yates realizes that his wife, who has tried to kill herself twice and has repeatedly been treated for psychosis and postpartum depression, is the last person who should be homeschooling. He gets her checked into a better mental health facility and takes a leave from work, devoting himself to his family.

In a third alternate universe, 63-year-old Dora Yates does not get exhausted trying to keep up with five little kids, and she shows up early that morning as usual. The kids eat their cereal and Dora and Rusty put Andrea in the car and take her to a mental health center where she can get the help she needs.

In another alternate universe, Andrea Yates draws the deadly bathwater but somehow, while cradling her baby Mary, with the child smiling up at her, cannot go through with the drownings. She puts Mary down on the floor and calls her husband.

In another alternate universe, the kids run outside, the oldest ones jumping on their bikes, holding tight to the youngest. Mary's head is on John's shoulder. She laughs -- they all laugh and chortle as they watch their baby sister being so smart, clutching John's hair to stay in place, to stay safe. And just as in the movie E.T., as they pedal faster and faster, their bikes begin to levitate and they all rise up, into the sky in a blaze of glory, far away from the adults and the mess of things below.

They get away, they get away clean, they get away clean and free as the wind.

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