Michael Woroniecki's influence over convicted murderer Andrea Yates

News summary: based upon Examining a Spiritual Leader's Influence, Newsweek / March 18, 2002

Was evangelist Michael Woroniecki's influence over Andrea Yates, partly responsible for her delusional thinking? The day after Yates was arrested for murdering her 5 children by drowning them in the family bathtub, she told the jail psychiatrist, that her bad mothering had made her children "not righteous." And they would "perish in the fires of hell." But if she killed them while still young, God would show mercy on their souls."

Where did these thoughts originally come from? George Parnham, Yates attorney, entered a copy of Woroniecki's newsletter into evidence. The newsletter titled "The Perilous Times" was sent to Andrea and her husband Rusty. In it a poem mourns the disobedient kids of the "Modern Mother Worldly." Lucy Puryear, a Houston psychiatrist, told the jury that literature is "what her delusions are built around."

In a letter to Newsweek, Woroniecki, denies influencing Yates. And blames Rusty. "I warned him over and over again that his life was headed for tragedy" he writes. Rusty first met Woroniecki while he was attending Auburn University. And Woroniecki was preaching on campus. Rusty introduced Andrea to the preacher.

In 1994, at a protest at Brigham Young University, Woroniecki called the female student body "contemporary witches". He said to them sarcastically "Go and be a 20th-century career woman and forget about your families."

Though Andrea stopped working to stay home with her kids, Woroniecki said he never entreated her to do so. He wrote Newsweek, "Although she was an excellent nurse, she never wanted to pursue a career."

Rusty told the jury he agreed with Woroniecki's ideas of home schooling and living the "simple life" in a bus. These 2 life style decisions caused stress for the passive Andrea, according to Puryear. Park Dietz, forensic psychiatrist, agreed that these factors also led to Yates previous suicide attempts. "She couldn't say to people" - "I can't stand this."

Woroniecki also writes in his letter to Newsweek, he and his wife did all they could to love the Yateses. "...After all we did for this family, it is preposterous for us to be cast into such a terrible image."

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