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Gunnison man found dead, wife was malnourished,

moved to care center

 

By Ben Lasseter

Staff writer

2-17-2021

 

GUNNISON—A Gunnison woman was recently hospitalized for malnourishment and has since been moved into an assisted living center.

According to police, she was unable to care for herself and fell ill after her husband died in the home earlier in the week.

When police responded to a call from Connie Hilyard’s neighbors on Wednesday, Feb. 4, they found her bleeding and visibly ill. Emergency personnel gave her medical care before taking her to the hospital.

Neighbors said she crossed the street and collapsed on their doorstep and was not wearing clothes, so they called 911. They put a blanket over her and brought her back to her own front porch across the street to wait for the ambulance.

Gunnison Valley Police Chief Seth Hendrickson said after receiving care, she told police that her husband, Richard Hilyard, was inside the house and that they had been talking all morning. However, inside the house, the chief found the husband’s body in their kitchen and believed he had died there days earlier.

This, Hendrickson said, is when he realized “it was a sad case of a lady with dementia that didn’t know what to do or what was going on around her.” He believed she must have forgotten to eat, hydrate and take medication in the preceding days without her husband.

Hendrickson was still waiting for autopsy results to confirm Richard Hilyard’s cause of death. But he said he neither believed there had been foul play involved, nor was there any sign it had occurred.

“She hadn’t done anything with the body at all. I think she had been sitting with the body and wondering what was going on, just confused,” he said.

The husband had been to the hospital shortly before the week of his death for a specific health concern but was discharged, the chief said.

Following this discovery, authorities closed the section of the road to the Hilyard’s residence to make way for a biochemical hazard team to remove the body. Hendrickson said the house had piles of debris and garbage throughout it that could have been causing dangerous fumes for extended time. He said no one should enter the house at this time.

In the days leading up to the event, friends and neighbors had dropped by to check on the Hilyards without entering the house, according to Hendrickson’s report. If Connie Hilyard did not comprehend that her husband had died or know she was neglecting her nourishment then, there was likely no reason for any visitors to think anything was wrong.

After a brief stay in the hospital, Connie Hilyard has moved into a care facility in Nephi and has been “doing much better” since, Hendrickson said.

“The family has stepped up big to help her out,” Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson said the police department wished to extend its condolences to the family.