He Defended the Woman Who Drowned Her Five Children — Then Dedicated His Life to Making Sure It Never Happens Again
The notorious case of Andrea Yates was the first time many people – including George Parnham – had ever heard of postpartum depression. Sixteen years later, he’s working to help other mothers get the help they so desperately need.
Photos by Max Burkhalter
Sixteen years ago, Andrea Yates summoned police after systematically drowning her five children in the bathtub of her Clear Lake, Texas, home. The 36-year old mother had telephoned her husband Russell “Rusty” Yates at NASA, where he worked as an engineer. Although it was only about ten a.m., she insisted he return home. Then she called police. Two officers arrived. Chaos ensued.
Like almost everyone else in the United States, Houston-based attorney George Parnham heard the news about the Yates family shortly after it happened in 2001.
“I told [my wife] ‘I wonder who is going to get that case?’” says Parnham.
A few hours later, his answering service relayed an urgent message. “I didn’t return the call right away,” says Parnham. “I knew this case would change the lives of everyone involved.”