Yates’ wife visits him and asks why

By NICHOLAS GERANIOS

Associated Press

The wife of serial killer Robert L. Yates Jr. says she asked him during a jailhouse visit why he killed at least 13 people.

"I said, ‘Do you know why you killed these women?’ " Linda Yates recalled in an interview that aired Friday night on NBC television’s "Dateline" program.

"I want to know why, like anybody else," Linda Yates said she asked her husband. "And how you could have done this, and still be married to me?"

Her husband, who grew up in Oak Harbor and is still under investigation for deaths there, had no answer.

It was Linda Yates’ first interview since the arrest of her husband in Spokane the morning of April 18. She and the couple’s children were rousted from their home without notice law-enforcement officers who had come to search the house for evidence.

With nothing but the clothes on their backs, the Yates family went into hiding. The couple has four daughters and one son.

"How could you not see the signs?" Linda Yates said, according to a transcript of the interview supplied by "Dateline." "But, see, you’re so close to somebody you don’t see it."

But in retrospect, she said there were some clues.

"Especially when he said he was going hunting, and he was dressed up nice and had cologne on," she told "Dateline." "You don’t go out hunting with cologne on."

Linda Yates also said she confronted her husband when she found evidence that indicated he was having extramarital affairs.

"He always had answers to everything," she said. "Already prepared in his mind, I think."

Yates confessed to the killings in October as part of a deal to escape the death penalty. But the plea bargain included another bombshell for his wife: Her husband revealed that for two years the body of one of his victims had been buried in their yard just outside their bedroom window.

"They (police) called me at work and said that they found a body in your yard. And I said, ‘Oh my God.’ I turned ice cold," Linda Yates said.

She said her husband was moody.

"He was a very moody person," she said. "He could one minute he could be real easygoing, and go into a room and come out and be a totally whole different person."

Yates was sentenced last month in Spokane to 408 years in prison for 13 murders — 10 women in Spokane since 1996, a woman in Skagit County in 1988 and a couple near Walla Walla in 1975 — and one attempted murder. The victims in Spokane and Skagit County had been involved in drugs or prostitution.

Island County Sheriff Mike Hawley last month said he’s investigating Yates in connection with two more unsolved homicides and a missing person. Among the slayings is the death of 19-year-old Teresa Hesselgrave, whose body was found in a wooded area near Whidbey General Hospital in 1977.

Yates once worked at the hospital, and might have known Hesselgrave.

Also under investigation are the deaths of Darrin Wade Gehrke, 23, in 1995 and the disappearance of Linda Fisher Moran, 27, in December 1976.

In addition, Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives are probing a Yates connection to the unsolved murders of a young British Columbia couple whose bodies were found in 1987 near High Bridge south of Monroe.

Yates, 48, still faces two aggravated first-degree murder charges and a possible death penalty in the deaths of two women in Pierce County.

Yates is an Army veteran and National Guard helicopter pilot who served tours in Germany and at several U.S. bases. Law enforcement officers in many of those places are studying unsolved crimes to see if Yates might be involved.

Linda Yates, who is from Walla Walla, married Robert Yates in 1976.

The loss of their main breadwinner has been a financial hardship for the family, she said.

Robert and Linda Yates jointly filed a personal bankruptcy petition in late October. The couple filed under Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which allows individuals to keep certain belongings while selling off other property to repay creditors.

The petition states that Yates and his wife have assets of more than $136,000 and liabilities totaling $475,000.

One of the creditors listed is Christine L. Smith, a woman who survived a 1998 attack and in July filed a lawsuit against Yates. Yates pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder in that attack.

The bankruptcy petition lists their two-story home on Spokane’s South Hill as the family’s biggest asset. The house has been assessed at $113,000.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)
How to donate to the family of Ariel Garcia

Everett police believe the boy’s mother, Janet Garcia, stabbed him repeatedly and left his body in Pierce County.

A ribbon is cut during the Orange Line kick off event at the Lynnwood Transit Center on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A huge year for transit’: Swift Orange Line begins in Lynnwood

Elected officials, community members celebrate Snohomish County’s newest bus rapid transit line.

Bethany Teed, a certified peer counselor with Sunrise Services and experienced hairstylist, cuts the hair of Eli LeFevre during a resource fair at the Carnegie Resource Center on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Carnegie center is a one-stop shop for housing, work, health — and hope

The resource center in downtown Everett connects people to more than 50 social service programs.

Everett mall renderings from Brixton Capital. (Photo provided by the City of Everett)
Topgolf at the Everett Mall? Mayor’s hint still unconfirmed

After Cassie Franklin’s annual address, rumors circled about what “top” entertainment tenant could be landing at Everett Mall.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Stanwood man gets federal prison for selling fentanyl on dark web

In 2013, Christerfer Frick was sentenced to nine years for trafficking drugs. He began selling online upon his release in 2020.

Molbak's Garden + Home in Woodinville, Washington closed on Jan. 28 2024. (Photo courtesy of Molbak's)
Molbak’s, former Woodinville garden store, hopes for a comeback

Molbak’s wants to create a “hub” for retailers and community groups at its former Woodinville store. But first it must raise $2.5 million.

A fire at a home near Alderwood Mall sent one neighbor and one firefighter to the hospital. (Photo provided by South County Fire)
Officials: Residents returned to burning Lynnwood home to rescue dogs

Five people and six dogs were displaced in the Thursday afternoon house fire, according to South County Fire.

Featuring a pink blush over a yellow background, WA 64 combines qualities of Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink (aka Pink Lady) for a firm, crisp, sweet and tart bite. A naming contest for the new apple runs through May 5, 2024. (Photo provided by Washington State University)
Hey Honeycrisp, this new breed of apple needs a name

Enter a naming contest for WA 64, a hybrid apple with the same baby daddy as Cosmic Crisp.

Police respond to a wrong way crash Thursday night on Highway 525 in Lynnwood after a police chase. (Photo provided by Washington State Department of Transportation)
Lynnwood woman, 83, killed in wrong-way crash following police pursuit

Deputies said they were chasing a man, 37, south on Highway 525 when he swerved into northbound lanes, killing an oncoming driver.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

People walk along the waterfront in front of South Fork Bakery at the Port of Everett on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Port of Everett inks deal with longtime Bothell restaurant

The port will break ground on two new buildings this summer. Slated for completion next year, Alexa’s Cafe will open in one of them.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.