After she drove her minivan into the crashing sea with her children in the back seat, Ebony Wilkerson tried to stop bystanders from saving the three children, two boys and a girl, ranging in age from 3-10. Wilkerson, 32, was also pregnant and claimed that Jesus told her to do it. Some might call this a move of faith. Her children, however, just think their mother is crazy. “Mom tried to kill us,” they told detectives, “Mom is crazy.”
Well sure, she believes in an imaginary friend, but most people who have these beliefs don’t actually talk to Jesus. Ebony Wilkerson does. Wilkerson and her children had fled North Carolina three days earlier to escape their abusive father. They had come to Daytona, Florida to stay with Wilkerson’s sister, who just hours before the crash into the waves, had called a 911 operator to voice concern over Wilkerson’s mental state. Wilkerson was driving south on the beach, suddenly rolled up all the windows, locked all the doors and told her children to go to sleep, she was going to take them to a better place, while she drove the van into the ocean.
One of the rescuers, Tim Tesseneer, said that Wilkerson’s eyes were wide and she looked “possessed”. She tried to prevent authorities from removing the children from the van, saying they needed to die to be protected. She was taken into custody for psychological evaluation and the children were removed to the Department of Children and Families.
A Florida police officer had pulled Wilkerson’s black Honda Odyssey over following the 911 call and he said, “It was clear during my conversation that Wilkerson was suffering from some form of mental illness, but she was lucid and did not provide any signs that she met Baker Act requirements.” The Baker Act is Florida’s mental health act which only allows officers to intervene if they believe the person is a danger to themselves or others. Too bad no one knew what would come soon after.
So what do we do with more crazies who are using religious beliefs to become batshit insane? I know theists will say she was nuts and that has nothing to do with religion, but once again, we find an individual whose religious beliefs give form to the horrific actions that may never have taken place had she not had those beliefs. We know that our beliefs inform our actions, if she had never believed that killing her kids would get them to paradise, she likely wouldn’t have driven into the sea.
So here’s more evidence that religion causes harm, or at the very least, facilitates harm. It’s a case for Horror Show Thursday, our week-long look at the terror that believing in irrational things and imaginary friends in the sky can bring.