When Guilt Gnaws

by | Oct 6, 2019 | Mystery, Crime & Mayhem | 0 comments

It is never easy to lose a family member

It is even worse when the loss is due to a violent tragedy.

And that is multiplied even further when you were not on best of terms when your loved one died.

To some, it is an episode that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. They will be left with a million of doubts.

What if I had reached out?

What if I hadn’t cut off contact?

Would I maybe have prevented it?

Could I have had at least a chance to say goodbye?

There is a Mike + The Mechanics song, The Living Years, that has a line:

It’s too late when we die, to admit that we didn’t see eye to eye.

For many, the grief will take years to get over. For some, they become so wrapped up in their grief, they try and find answers.

They go down a rabbit hole, looking in desperation for a reason to explain the loss of a loved one and to try and comfort their guilt.

And that was the case of Janice Wilhelm in Leon County Texas.

From all accounts, she would never have won the title of Mother of the Year. As a nurse, she became addicted to drugs, losing her job in the process and alienating her two children.

By all accounts, it was a bitter relationship at best.

In her later years, her medical condition deteriorated. To the point that she was on morphine most of the day for pain. She was barely able to move.

Her only real contact with the outside world was her husband, Gerald Wilhelm.

Then one December night in 2010, her pain ended with a bullet.

There were discrepancies in the scene and the official report. Some pretty glaring.

It did not help that her will had been changed. It didn’t help it that her two estranged children were cut out completely.

And it was a combination of guilt, of those discrepancies and of those changes to the will that led her son to embark on a one man crusade to find the truth.

Or at least his version of it.

He centered on the phone call placed by her husband. The calmness of it all. After all, no one grief-stricken would act so calmly. That he later hooked up with another woman and would leave everything that arguably should have been the children of Janice’s to yet someone else.

Including land that had been in his family’s name for decades.

He was tossing in 2+2 over and over and did not like the fact that he saw 5 when the rest of the world saw 4

Before long, he had created a world of intrigue and corruption that in his mind pointed to a criminal conspiracy between elected officials of Leon County, incompetence or collusion by other elected officials.

With every twist in the road, the web of corruption spread out until local, state, and federal officials were implicated.

He just would not accept one thing.

The possibility that she did commit suicide as it was ruled.

Occam’s razor states that the simplest of answers is usually the correct one.

Let’s look at the facts not in dispute.

Janice Willhelm died on the evening of December 8th, 2010, from a gunshot wound to the head.

Her will had been changed very shortly before, leaving everything to her husband.

Gerald left his estate to a third party.

None of that is in dispute.

Most likely, Janice could no longer stand the pain or the ravages of her body. She wanted it to end, and her husband no longer wanted to see her suffer.

Bitter by what she saw as betrayal and abandonment by her children, she changed her will so that her children would not inherit a thing.

Gerald and Janice then decided on a time and date once her affairs were in order.

And the time came. They probably tried a drug overdose at first, the most humane way to end it. But a lifetime of drugs and morphine for the pain made that route impossible.

So Gerald shot her. He ended her suffering.

Law Enforcement probably deduced this within a few minutes of being on the scene. Officers are sworn to uphold the law, but they also are living breathing men and women.

They knew that if they ruled it a homicide, Gerald would face the rest of his life in prison.

As it was, Gerald died not too much longer afterward. Despite the conspiracy theory of him meeting an untimely end, the grief of a spouse when the other dies usually see that spouse dies soon after.

In the end, only two people know for sure what happened that cold night in East Texas. And both of them are dead.

The real tragedy is that a family allowed bitterness to fester until it was too late to reconcile.

And the even bigger tragedy is that in the absence of that closure, that reconciliation, the children of Janice Wilhelm will never know peace.

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