It was soon apparent that Andrea's disease was postpartum psychosis, a medical emergency that endangers both the mother and the child's lives. It affects roughly one in 1,000 mothers and shouldn't be confused with postpartum depression, which affects about one in ten new mothers, or the common "baby blues," which gives up to 75 percent of new mothers mild emotional symptoms.

Psychiatrist Arturo Rios, MD, recommended electroshock therapy for Andrea, but both Yateses were against it. Instead Andrea began receiving an antipsychotic described in medical records as an "injectable cocktail including Haldol and Cogentin," in addition to the antidepressants Effexor and Wellbutrin. Slowly, she began responding.

Rusty visited his wife diligently in the psych ward. Nurses' reports describe him as "supportive and caring." Rusty brought flowers, complained when Andrea hadn't been bathed in three days, and worried over the effects of her medications. "Most of visit, patient was lying on sofa with husband sitting next to her stroking her head," one nurse wrote.

Three weeks into this second hospital stay, she was discharged to the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), in which she continued daily hospital care but slept at home. Home was now a three-bedroom house in Clear Lake, Texas.

"I bought the house when Andrea was sick the first time," Rusty said. "She never complained about the bus, I just thought the house might be better for her. I didn't even know if she liked the house until one day she told me, 'I'm glad you bought it.'" Rusty enthusiastically described how he built bunk beds for his sons in one of the bedrooms. Baby Mary would sleep with her parents. The third bedroom was used for storage.

On Andrea's first posthospital visit, Starbranch told her that even though she was feeling better she should "remain compliant with [her] medications." In the past Andrea often took half doses or skipped her medication altogether. Depending on drugs made her "feel like she's weak," she told her PHP therapy group. By the next visit, August 16, 1999, Starbranch reported in disbelief that Andrea "is talking of wanting off medications!" She "wants to get p.g. [pregnant] and have more kids. Wants to homeschool the children." On August 18 Starbranch wrote, "Apparently patient and husband plan to have as many babies as nature will allow! This will surely guarantee future psychotic depression."  

"What was the deal with the Greyhound bus?" I asked Rusty of the vehicle that was still parked next to the Yates's house. He looked at me without humor, without anger, without comprehending why I might find a Greyhound bus an unusual place to live. The bus, however, provides a previously unreported link between the Yateses and an itinerant preacher named Michael Warnecki, who sold it—and perhaps a way of life—to the Yateses. He and his family travel the United States in a motor home, proselytizing on college campuses. Warnecki's wife, Rachel, was quoted in the Indiana Daily Student: "Seek Jesus not in the church or religion and not in Christianity and not in the system. The system cannot save you because it is based in Satan."

The Warneckis recommended seeking Jesus in the New Testament—at home. Rachel Warnecki homeschooled her six children so the family could remain together on the road. Andrea, who had corresponded with Rachel and Michael, pleaded with her mother and siblings to renounce Roman Catholicism. She sent her family copies of a newsletter warning of the banishment to hell of all Catholics. The Yates family did not belong to the Church of Christ, where the children's funeral was held, as is widely assumed. They described themselves as nondenominational Christians.

Rusty conducted family Bible study classes for his wife and children roughly every three nights. By March 2000, Andrea was pregnant again.

A Cry in the Dark continues...


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