Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hennie Yates Taught Her Daughter to Murder Her Own Siblings - 1913

PHOTO CAPTION: Mrs. Hennie Yates and daughter, Floy Farris, held as accomplice. --- Mrs. Hennie Yates, thirty-six, and a daughter by another marriage, Floy Feris, fifteen, are charged with the murder of the woman’s step-children, Ligon Yates, twelve, and Mary Yates. The children were drowned in a creek near the Yates home at Troy, Tenn. A plea of insanity probably will be entered for Mrs. Yates. The husband says he will aid the state.



Mrs. Hennie Yates, thirty-six, and daughter, Floy Farris, fifteen, charged with the murder of Ligon Yates, twelve, and Ida May Yates, ten.

Children drowned in creek near home at Troy, Tenn.

Prisoners in jail at Union City, Tenn., fearing mob violence if left at Troy.

Both have confessed and are kept in separate cells.

Mrs. Yates, without funds, will look to state to provide attorneys for defense. Will probably enter plea for insanity.

Yates, father of murdered children, says he will aid state in convicting wife.



Union City, Tenn., July 19.—Abandoned by her husband and friends and even shunned by her own daughter, Mrs. Hennie Yates, thirty-six, wife of James Yates, farmer of Troy, Tenn., stolidly awaits her trial on the charge of having murdered her two step-children, Lignon Yates, twelve, and Ida May Yates, ten.

The nude bodies of the children were found in a shallow bayou near the Yates home shortly after noon on July 9, by a neighbor, who had been summoned by James Yates, thirteen, step-son of Mrs. Yates. The neighbor testified at a preliminary hearing that the boy had come running to him and told him Mrs. Yates and her fifteen-year-old daughter by another marriage, Floy Farris, were drowning his brother and sister and would have drowned him also if he had not escaped.

~ She Makes Confession. ~

On the day following her arrest with her daughter, Mrs. Yates confessed that she was guilty of having killed the children. The girl corroborated the confession and told the authorities that she pushed their heads under the water and held them there while her mother strangled them by the throats.

The little girl cowered in a separate cell as far away from her mother as she could get. She declares she is afraid of her mother and assisted in the murder only after she had been threatened with death by her parent if she refused.

Mrs. Yates is still in possession at her eighteen-months-old baby boy, her only child by her present marriage. Her husband, who has refused to see the woman since her confession, is making an effort to have the child taken from her.

~ Alienists Noncommital. ~

The woman’s case is puzzling to the authorities. She will give no other reason for committing the crime than:

“They made my life miserable.”

Mrs. Yates is without funds and the county will have to furnish attorneys for her defense. The husband announced after her confession that he would prosecute to the full extent of the law. It is believed that a plea of insanity will be get up for her defense. Alienists who have examined the woman through an interest in the case have refused to give an opinion as to her insanity.

The woman is apparently rational, realizes the enormity of her crime, but does not in any way show that she is remorseful. She clings to her little baby and declares she will not give him up, while her daughter begs to be removed from the same building for fear that her mother will reach her and kill her. The two prisoners have been separated at the daughter’s request.

[“Woman Who Strangled Step-Children Clings To Her Own Baby In Prison Cell,” The Sunday-Times Tribune (Waterloo, Io.), Jul. 20, 1913, p. 3; Photo from other source]


FULL TEXT: Union City, Tenn., Jan. 15. – Mrs. Hennie Yates, charged with drowning her two small step-children, today pleaded guilty to second degree murder here and was given an indeterminate sentence of from ten to twenty years in prison. While berry hunting last summer, Mrs. Yates is alleged to have induced three of her step-children to go bathing in a creek and then seized two and held their hands under water until they drowned.

[“Woman Confesses Murder,” The Coffeyville Daily Journal (Ks.), Jan. 15, 1914, p. 1]


SEE:  Maternal Filicide: Spousal Revenge Motive


For more examples, see Step-Mothers from Hell.


For similar cases, see Murder-Coaching Moms


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