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Yates Children Laid to Rest

Aired June 27, 2001 - 12:42   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you behind a Houston police cordon and outside a church in Houston, the Clear Lake Church of Christ, where an estimated 500 people have been attending funeral services for the five Yates children. Their white caskets are now being rolled out.

We have CNN's Ed Lavandera, who's been following this story, up close in Houston.

Ed, tell us what we're seeing.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, we're trying to speak softly because we are very close to where they are bringing the caskets out of the Clear Lake Church of Christ in the Houston suburb, just a few blocks away from where the Yates family lived.

As you can see, they're loading each of the caskets. On the far end, that is the casket of 6-month-old Mary. We understand that, as the hearse pulls out of parking lot here, she will be in the front car followed by her four brothers.

Just a few moments ago, we were inside listening to a portion of Mr. Yates' eulogy to his children. And if you can imagine the scene, after he spoke of each of his kids, he went up to the casket and closed each one of them -- truly an emotional moment for him and his family. He's standing just behind the caskets, watching them get everything ready as they proceed from here to the cemetery.

Mr. Yates was very emotional inside after he finished eulogizing his five children. He also was reading Bible scriptures to the congregation. And it almost seemed like he was trying to put the crowd at ease and trying to help them understand as well -- outside, a very stoic-looking Mr. Yates. I also see Mrs. Kennedy, which is Andrea Yates' mother.

The service lasted about an hour -- Mr. Yates arriving here about an hour and a half ago with his family and three limousines.

A lot of the funeral arrangements that have been arranged for the Yates family have come from donations in the Houston community. The funeral plots where the five children will be laid to rest have all been donated to the family. And we understand that a lot of other details that -- surrounding today's events have also been donated to the family to help cover expenses. Inside the church, about 500 people filled the sanctuary, listening to Mr. Yates' words. The minister also spoke the first portion of the eulogy, helping people understand why.

There you see Mr. Yates -- and followed by his brother right behind him. And that's Mrs. Kennedy in the white, following them to the limousines. And they are getting ready to leave here.

As you might imagine, it's very difficult for a family that has lived a very quiet life in this suburban Houston neighborhood. And a week ago, they were thrown into the limelight.

Just off to the side of where the church is here, no less than 20 cameras have been videotaping today's funeral service.

WATERS: Who are these people that we're seeing emerge from the church, Ed?

LAVANDERA: Lou, now starting to come out is everyone that -- this is the entire congregation that was inside the sanctuary.

Of course, family and friends were the only people allowed inside. Reporters were allowed to, after the funeral -- after the service was started, reporters were allowed to go inside and listen from a distance to what was going on. But these are all the family and friends that have shown up to support the Yates family and Andrea Yates' family as well.

WATERS: And, of course, the media have been asked to keep a respectful distance. We were not inside the church. As I mentioned, we're behind a police cordon here. What are the considerations there?

LAVANDERA: Well, inside -- reporters were allowed just to go inside and listen and to observe the moment. No recording devices were allowed. And as far as we know, everyone has obliged by that rule.

The distance here a lot closer than we anticipated, to be honest -- but you know, everyone -- oh, I'm sorry, go ahead.

WATERS: Were you able to observe Mr. Yates? The only other time we saw him was the other day when he, apparently, was in a state of shock. How was he today?

LAVANDERA: Visibly, when he steps outside, you know, it's kind of the same Mr. Yates we've seen since last Thursday when he first spoke to reporters: very strong looking, very unwavering -- inside, as you might imagine, a very different man: when it came time to close the caskets, an emotional breakdown for him. And his voice wavered a lot as he spoke of the Bible passages that he read to the congregation and spoke of the meaning of the different Bible passages -- Lou.

WATERS: Where are these hearses headed now, Ed?

LAVANDERA: From here they'll head to a cemetery, which is about five miles away, I understand. And there will be another graveside ceremony, a brief ceremony there. The minister will read a few Bible passages. And that will be the end of the services for today.

WATERS: All right, Ed Lavandera in Houston.

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