Two mothers in psychiatric hospital form friendship

Monday, October 9, 2006

DALLAS -- Two Texas women who killed their young children in cases that drew nationwide attention have formed a friendship at a state hospital, a newspaper reports.

Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children in the bathtub, and Dena Schlosser, whose baby died after she severed the girl's arms with a kitchen knife, became roommates at the Maple unit of the North Texas State Hospital after each was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

"We talk about our past, we talk about our memories, our fun memories, the things that our kids did," Schlosser told The Dallas Morning News. With the support of her family, Schlosser agreed to be interviewed several times by phone.

Yates did not want to come to the phone. But her ex-husband Rusty Yates, who still regularly visits her at the hospital in Vernon, 174 miles northwest of Dallas, said Schlosser has become a friend.

"Hopefully, they can help each other through the long recovery process," he said.

The two women will probably be in the state's care for years, remaining at Vernon or another hospital until their doctors and judges agree they can be released.

Conversations between the women often revolve around their young daughters -- Mary Yates was 6 months old and Maggie Schlosser was 10 months old when they died.

Schlosser's parents, Connie and Mick Macaulay of Canada, said their daughter once tearfully called after talking with Yates.

"They'd talked a lot about Mary and Maggie," said Mick Macaulay, a mental health counselor. "They were feeling guilty, remorseful and sad."

Schlosser, 37, was already at the hospital when Yates, 42, arrived this summer. Yates drowned her children at her family home in suburban Houston in 2001 and Schlosser cut off her daughter's arms in her family home in suburban Dallas in 2004.

The women have much in common. Both were married, stay-at-home moms who followed out-of-the mainstream religious leaders. Both suffered from postpartum depression and psychosis after the birth of their daughters.

Yates, who had been a nurse, believed when she drowned her five children -- Mary, 2-year-old Luke, 3-year-old Paul, 5-year-old John and 7-year-old Noah -- that she was protecting them from Satan. Schlosser, who has a degree in psychology, wanted to offer her baby to God.

While Schlosser has no distinct memories of what she calls "the tragedy," she knows she killed Maggie.

During her trial, psychiatrists said that in her delusional mind, she believed God wanted her to cut off the baby's arms.

"I had delusions that were going on that I didn't understand, but I believed them. I thought I was doing the right thing," she said.

Schlosser eventually hopes to reconcile with her surviving daughters. The girls, now 8 and 11, live with their father, who has filed for divorce.

She's written her daughters a letter a week since her arrest, telling the girls how much she loves and misses them. But she's waiting to mail them until the girls are ready to read them.

She also knows they aren't ready to see her yet.

"I'm willing to wait. I'll wait as long, I'll wait for the rest of my life," she said. "I love them dearly. My kids are my world, and they always will be."

Yates has no living children but will one day be buried with her children, a right she won in the divorce.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: