Why Rusty Yates Says Divorcing the Woman Who Killed His Children Was the "Hardest Decision He's Ever Made"

Season 5 Episode 507
Aired on 04/25/2015 | CC tv-14
It was a tragedy that shocked the world. On a June morning in 2001, suburban wife and mother Andrea Yates waited for her husband, Rusty, to leave for work and then drowned all five of their children, Noah, John, Paul, Luke and Mary, in the family's bathtub. Andrea confessed to police and pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, arguing that she suffered from a severe case of postpartum psychosis.

After being found guilty of capital murder, a Texas appeals court overturned her conviction because of mistaken testimony from a psychiatrist. Andrea was retried in 2006, and this time, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Today, she is living in a state mental hospital, and her ex-husband, Rusty, has remarried.

Shortly after Andrea's first trial in 2002, Rusty came on the Oprah Show to share his experience. Two years later, he filed for divorce from Andrea, a decision he now tells Oprah he struggled with. "My relationship with Andrea and with my kids, that was my whole life," he says. "Then, when the tragedy occurred, it took me awhile to come—and it was the hardest decision I ever made—to divorce Andrea because I think she's wonderful. I think we had a great relationship. But, what I finally realized, was that because of her illness, I could never trust her again. I could never be in the same house with her."

Rusty is now remarried, raising two stepchildren and a 7-year-old son named Mark. While Rusty says he enjoys being a dad, there are moments of hesitation, which, at times, makes it difficult to be all-in with his new family. "I have to exert my will more to do that," he says. "Because it's a breach of trust. Like Andrea, I completely trusted her and it was a complete, you know, betrayal of trust for her to take the lives of our children. I'm all in one day, and the next day, they're gone."

In the above video, Rusty shares how he's trained himself to focus on happy, joyful memories of the children he lost.

More from this episode