Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Marie Hilley

Carol Falls Ill

Meanwhile, Marie had been buying insurance. There were several policies, including fire insurance, cancer coverage, and life insurance coverage on herself. But Marie also insured the lives of her children—Mike was insured for $25,000, while Carol, through two policies, was insured for $39,000.

Upon their return to Anniston, Marie and Carol moved in first with Frank's sister Freeda, then with his mother Carrie Hilley. The strange occurrences began again—small fires, cut phone lines, and, increasingly, a tendency in Carrie Hilley toward nausea and vomiting. Marie got a job at Dresser Industries and also worked nights for Harold Dillard, the owner of a local construction company. She also began a manipulative, twisted affair designed to bring Dillard under her spell and make him leave his marriage. Almost simultaneously she began another affair with Calvin Robertson, an old school friend who had long since relocated to San Francisco. She told Robertson that she had cancer and couldn't afford the treatments she needed. He sent money, and she soon returned news that she'd been cured. When he came to visit her in Anniston he was like a schoolboy, and by the time he left he was convinced he would die for Marie Hilley. He wasn't ready to leave his wife quite yet, though.

Carol Hilley (Anniston Star)
Carol Hilley (Anniston Star)

Carol Hilley first became ill in April, 1979. Now nineteen and a freshman at a nearby college, she returned to her high school for its annual Junior-Senior Prom. The night's festivities included the usual young adult diversions—food, drink, a little marijuana—and as the party wore on Carol became nauseated. It wasn't serious enough to impinge upon her gaiety, so she ignored it, concentrating on having a good time. The following day, though, the nausea returned with a vengeance. Carol left church services early and vomited in the parking lot. On returning home she discovered that her grandmother, Carrie Hilley, was in the hospital after fainting at church. Carol accompanied Marie to the hospital, where she was sick all afternoon.

After that, Carol Hilley would not be completely well again for a long, long time. Over the summer she grew sicker and weaker. But she was still feisty, and although she was becoming increasingly dependent on Marie's care, she insisted on moving into her own apartment. Marie was a constant presence there, expressing concern and acting as Carol's caretaker. She administered Carol's various medicines and cooked for her. She took her to several doctors, none of who was able to explain with any certainty what Carol's torturous symptoms meant. The nausea and vomiting, now almost constant, were accompanied by tingling sensations in her hands and feet and ever-worsening muscle weakness.

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