HOUSTON -- A woman called police to her home Wednesday and showed a stunned officer the bodies of her five young children, all apparently drowned in the bathtub. "I killed my children," she told authorities before she was arrested.
The 36-year-old woman was said to be on medication for depression following the birth of her fourth child two years ago. Social services officials also said she had attempted suicide two years ago.
The woman, identified as Andrea Pia Yates, was charged late Wednesday with multiple counts of capital murder, said police spokesman John Cannon. He said Yates was taken to county jail.
"It is just rather unimaginable," Cannon said. "It's difficult to deal with when you are talking about five little kids who were killed, probably systematically."
Autopsies will be performed to determine the cause of death, but police said they believe the children were drowned. Their mother was wet when she answered the door at the home in a middle-class neighborhood of southeastern Houston near NASA's Johnson Space Center
"When our responding officer arrived, he was met at the door by the woman, who was breathing heavily, and you could tell she was disturbed," Cannon said. "At that time she said to the officer, 'I killed my children."'
Cannon said the officer asked where the children were and was led to a bedroom. Found under a sheet on a bed were Mary, 6 months, and three of her brothers, Luke, 2; Paul, 3; and John, 5. The fifth child, Noah, 7, was in the bathtub.
Police gave no motive for the slayings, but the woman's husband told police she had been on medication to treat postpartum depression since Luke's birth.
Judy Hay, a spokeswoman for Children's Protective Services, said records indicate Yates attempted suicide on June 18, 1999. Five days later, CPS was called because mental health officials worried the children didn't have proper care.
"We found them at their grandparents with their father," Hay said. "It was never assigned because there was no abuse or neglect."
Dr. Lauren Marangell, a psychiatrist who leads the Baylor College of Medicine's mood disorders research program, said postpartum depression is treatable and rarely results in violence to others.
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