Rachael Hilyard, 35, of Wichita, Kansas is charged in the decapitation of her ex-boyfriend’s mother. Law enforcement states that the disembodied head was found in the defendant’s kitchen sink after the attack.
Hilyard is being held on $226,000 bond at the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office.
Hilyard, who states that she was the victim of a car accident in 2003 and now suffers from a Traumatic Brain Injury, believed that there were evil spirits in her home. She believed that an image of smoke in the shape of the grim reaper was evidence to this demonic infestation. Hilyard states that the TBI has nothing to do with the incident.
Throughout an interview with a reporter from The Wichita Eagle following her incarceration, she stated that “god” was to blame for the death of 63-year-old Micki Davis. In an affidavit, she stated that “god told her to [kill Davis]”
According to police reports Davis’s 9-year-old grandson, who was with her at the time of the attack, was the one to call 911 when Hilyard began coming at Davis with a knife. Police believe that the child did not witness Davis’s death.
Reports find that Hilyard has a 16-year history of misdemeanor crimes, mental health issues, and drug use prior to the event. Drug charges include heroin and methamphetamine use.
Less than a month prior to the beheading incident Hilyard had been arrested for criminal trespass and interference with law enforcement, assault, and willful criminal damage to property. According to court records, Hilyard had broken a window and assaulted an officer in an attempt to break into a home where her biological son lived. The residents of the home commented on police reports that they were “all scared of her” due to her drug use and violent mannerisms.
Summit Church Kansas
Just days prior to the beheading Hilyard had been in contact with Pastor Terry Fox of Summit Church in regards to a possible exorcism. Fox states that he had visited Hilyard in her home but was unable to determine if the cause of her concern was demon or mental health related. He reports that the home was blessed during his visit with Hilyard.
Fox, who states that he has been doing exorcisms for some 30 years, is also an anti-gay activist that is outspoken in the Witchita area. The paranormal focus of his work is under the team name Summit Paranormal Investigators. They claimed to have more than 17 cases across the United States at the time of the incident.
When it comes to assessing for demons, Fox is quoted in The Wichita Eagle as saying that the first step in a paranormal investigation is to find if it is demonic in nature or not. He believes that while some can have underlying mental health problems that lead to issues, at times the demonic infestation will lead to mental health issues.
There seems to be a strong belief by Fox and SPI that the occult, use of conjuring tools such as the Ouija Board or Tarot Cards, or the practice of witchcraft can lead to demonic possession.
Some people experience paranormal phenomena in connection with Ouija Boards, spirit boards, tarot cards, black magic, palm readers, fortune tellers, mystics, psychics, mediums, or witches. If you have had a poltergeist experience, our paranormal investigators may be able to come assist you. If you have had a connection with witchcraft or the occult, we can help you break their influence over you. (Summit Paranormal Investigators)
The graduate of Ouachita Baptist College in Arkansas and his team take a decidedly biblical approach to paranormal investigation and their exorcism services. Although they are referenced as a paranormal team Fox makes a point to state in The Wichita Eagle that the team is not in the business of chasing ghosts but rather in helping those in “real trouble”.
So was this case of a demonic oppression of a “vulnerable” person or a women with a troubled past that just broke mentally? While there are reports throughout history that could be pointed out as evidence of demonic possession and true exorcisms performed, I can’t help but feel as though many people are vulnerable in another way. They are more vulnerable to be swayed by the beliefs and suggestions of others than they are of demons.
Rachael Hilyard had a long history of mental health issues, drug abuse, and violent tendencies. It is unclear whether Fox had this information prior to his attempts to ascertain the presence of a demonic entity. However, this is such important information. In fact, information that could easily point to other issues going on before looking to inhuman entities.
Some will argue that this history made her the prime target for a demonic presence to take hold. Along with witchcraft, tarot, and other common superstitions, this has often been touted as an opening or “easy in” for possession.
Another way of looking at it is to question whether people furthering the belief that something is in her pictures on social media and stress mixed with drugs and mental health issues led to the belief that something demonic had overtaken her life.
Do we in the paranormal field have a responsibility to consider the mental state of those who claim to have paranormal or demonic activity in their life? Often times, reports are made during times of sadness, grief, or other extreme emotion. While heightened emotions can be a precursor to certain manifestations such as a poltergeist haunting, it can’t be denied that they can also lend themselves to a desire to believe anything and perhaps pick up vague clues and put meaning to them that may not be there.
Of course, this is not to say that all paranormal encounters can be blamed on mental health issues or drug induced states. However, social media groups that pick up four or five faces in the image of a tree or people who state that something is demonic in a post or incident without first considering the history and state of the people they are talking to could be doing more harm than good.