Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Miracle Of Forgiveness: Former Wyoming Murderer Mike Hickey Fully Repents, Restored To Membership In The LDS Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintains that individuals who commit murder, in particular the shedding of innocent blood, may become ineligible for exaltation, although they may still aspire to salvation. This means that, in general, a murderer cannot come forth in the first resurrection, when Jesus Christ returns, but must wait in the temporal hell for the second resurrection, and will only be eligible for telestial glory, the lowest of the three degrees of glory. This restriction is even more applicable for a murderer who was a member of the LDS Church; paragraph 6.7.3 of the Church Handbook of Instructions Vol. 1 states that murder is defined as the deliberate and unjustified taking of a human life, requiring excommunication.

However, the LDS Church does not impose a blanket ban on murderers ever becoming a member of the Church. Instead, paragraph 6.12.30 of the Church Handbook of Instructions Vol. 1 merely states that a murderer cannot be baptized without the express approval of the First Presidency. And the case of Mike Hickey in Lonetree, Wyoming shows that even a former member of the LDS Church can be restored to membership -- if repentance is sincere and there are mitigating circumstances. On May 1st, 2011, the Billings Gazette tells Hickey's story.

Summary: In 1977, Mike Hickey, then 23 years old, fell in with an individual who had a beef with local government. Mark Hopkinson fought with a local sewer board over roughly $12,000 in hookup fees that he refused to pay. In 1977, days before Hopkinson was scheduled to be deposed as part of the ensuing lawsuit, the home of an Evanston attorney involved in the litigation exploded in the middle of the night. The attorney, Vince Vehar, 67, died in the blast, as did his wife and their 15-year-old son. In addition, a fourth person, a 15-year-old girl named Kellie Wyckhuyse, went missing; while her body was never found, a third party eventually reported that she had been killed by Mike Hickey.

In any event, Hickey, a member of an old and prominent Bridger Valley family, ultimately confessed to murdering Wyckhuyse. He also said Hopkinson knew about the murder and promised him an alibi if he killed Vehar. For that and the offer of $2,000, Hickey drove to Evanston and threw 30 sticks of lit dynamite into Vehar’s home. Authorities offered Hickey a deal: In exchange for testifying against Hopkinson, he would get 20 years in prison under a different name to protect him from Hopkinson. Hickey's testimony led to Hopkinson being given a life sentence for each of the three Vehar deaths. Hopkinson eventually received the death penalty for another murder and was executed in 1992.

Because Mike Hickey was a member of the LDS Church at the time, he was excommunicated shortly after his plea deal. However, it appears our Heavenly Father is more merciful than we believe. He looks for the least sign of repentance on our part so He can send the Spirit to work in our lives and demonstrate His power. After paying his debt to society, Hickey was restored to LDS membership in 1999. From the Gazette:

Released from prison in 1999, he came back to Lonetree and began working on the family ranch. In the decade since, he’s married and has been allowed back into the Mormon church. This last part he speaks of with pride. He traveled to Salt Lake City and went before a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He says a church leader told him that if he had any pieces of history relating to what happened — newspaper clippings, books, court documents — to get rid of them.

So why was a convicted murderer like Hickey restored to membership? There are three essential elements to this case:

(1). He was young and immature, and he acted at the behest of an older, more evil individual.

(2). He voluntarily confessed to his crimes and actively helped authorities bring down Mark Hopkinson, the evil genius who inspired them.

(3). He convinced a member of the Quorum of the Twelve that his repentance was sincere and wholehearted, leading the First Presidency to reinstate him.

The Gazette did not report whether or not Hickey had received the full endowment during his first period of Church membership. It is considered more difficult to forgive an LDS murderer if he or she has actually received the full endowment in a temple. Five comments have been posted to the story so far; all are unfavorable to Hickey.

This case, of course, is entirely different than the case of King David in the Bible, who arranged for Uriah to be placed into the hottest part of the battle to be killed so that David could grab Uriah's wife Bathsheba after he had impregnated her (2 Samuel 11). While Mike Hickey was motivated by misguided ideology and misdirected rage, King David was motivated by gratuitous lust. Then King David attempted to cover for the crime, and did not confess until exposed by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12). While King David repented, the only promise he obtained was that the Lord had put away his sin and that he would not die. But many Latter-day Saints interpret that verse to mean that King David not only must wait until the second resurrection to come forth, but that he can only aspire to telestial glory. President Joseph F. Smith wrote "The way I understand it, a person who sheds innocent blood 'shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come' (D&C 42:18). The refusal of forgiveness referred to here means that the murderer can not repent and receive forgiveness through the atonement of Christ. They cannot be forgiven in the sense that celestial salvation [or exaltation] is made available to them. They will go to hell (spirit prison) to be punished for it. However, a person may eventually be able to receive another type of forgiveness which requires paying the price by suffering in hell for the murder. Then they may be able to be rescued from hell, as in the case of David, and still obtain some degree of glory(but not exaltation) after the final judgment, depending on how good they were during the rest of their life".

But the story of Mike Hickey shows that the Father's capacity for mercy is just as boundless as His desire for justice. Perhaps King David might eventually end up with a better fate after all. This may be one reason why the Savior Himself cautioned us to "Judge not, lest ye be judged". Instead of spending time trying to consign others to hell and perdition, we can use that time more productively by striving for heaven, and in particular, celestial glory with exaltation, where we can realize our full potential as heirs of the Father and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention the part about this fine Mormon individual bashing in the young girl's skull and cutting out her genitals.

Brandon Loe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CKW said...

Its absolutely DISGUSTING you would let Mike Hickey back into your church. This man beat my aunts skull in and cut out her genitals and killed 3 other people.

Mike said...

I like how every issue with the Mormon Church gets swept under the rug and they repent and it is o.k. I don't care if he did come from a prominent family he is NO better than the Manson Girls in my book! None of them sure got a deal or got out of prison did they? Nor should they! They are going to rot in prison as this guy should have! I can't believe you can go back to the community where you did the crime and just say it was all in the past! Blaming it on young and drunk doesn't cut it. There are alot of young drunks who don't go around carving up young girls genitals! He KILLED FOUR people! Two of them teenagers! Live in your own misery Mike Hickey! You deserve to!

Anonymous said...

I knew Mike Hickey then and I knew all the others involved. He should be able to be forgiven because Mark Hopkinson fooled a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

I too knew Mike Hickey and the others, as well as Hopkinson...and I have to agree, Mark not only fooled a lot of people, he manipulated and terrorized a lot of people too...for a VERY long time.

Anonymous said...

Only one thing wrong with "anonymous" theories......Killing of the Wyckhuse girl had NOTHING TO DO WITH HOPKINSON.......that was he and Hysell BEFORE everything else.....I am all for forgiving people BUT.....do the time that matches the crime....No better than the Manson Girls in my book......The BUTCHER OF LONETREE.......

Anonymous said...

being forgiven by the church and acceptance back which he is proud of,is this what is important or is it more important that we have left out those he murdered,do they forgive him thats what is important and if you follow the doctrine of the church he hasnt really a chance to see them in the hereafter either.Poeple did not get to live their lives to the fullest and what about the families of those he murdered, the damage he did to them was horrible, they deserve to live in peace and not have the reminder of this in their area.While the Bridger Valley is big in area the population is small,him being there will always be a constant reminder of something beyond words.True he turned on a evil man to save his own hide but hid in cowardice under a different name while in prison and what he did to poor kelly was totally a seperate issue,her death was swept aside to get the mastermind of the death of a prominent attorney.Was Kelly,s life worth less than lawyer and his family?Mike Hickey as well as the justice system did wrong by Kelly,he did not pay for her death.I heard someone say it was brave for him to come back home to the Bridger Valley.How wrong that thought is,it was pure selfishness,he should have left prison and went somewhere else and the hurt die by being there it will never die.Rest in peace Kelly and those others who died at the hands of a coward!!

Anonymous said...

I grew up with Mike Hickey and what no one really knows is that he was torturing and mutilating animals on the ranch long before he killed and mutilated Kellie.I watched him drag a mentally challenged kid through a bon fire at a keggar until the kid's hair was singed and he was covered with burns. Disgusting how the Mormons sweep things under the rug. Now we have to have his disgusting presence in our community. Mike would've done a lot of what he did without Mark Hopkinson.He's a psychopath.

jjcdenimblues@yahoo.com said...

mike hickey made several pieces of craftmanship for me. circumstances in everyones life at times are extremely difficult and outright unpredictable. for some of us life is simple and uncomplicated. for others life is tumultous, bitter and harmful. the forces of evil are have an inexplicable influence on some of us. where evil strikes is equally unpredictable and always devastates. the glory of god, the premise of repentence and forgiveness is manifested beyond comprehension."judge not lest ye be judged "

Anonymous said...



1) God will be the ultimate judge of Mike Hickey when the time comes.

2) Mike's abuse of booze (especially tequila) as a teenager should not be overlooked as significantly contributing to his problems.

Anonymous said...

Had the 15 year old girl been LDS, there would have been a very different outcome. Those who knew Mike Hickey from his high school years, knew him to be crazy and to be mentally unstable. It's too bad that the Wyckhuse girl's life is made to be insignificant by Mike Hickey's forgiveness by the LDS church and its followers. For him to be allowed to come back into our community after murder and mutilation is shameful. No one should forget about the murders of the Vehars and of the murder and MUTILATION of Kelly Wyckhuse. I have much sympathy for those families of the victims. How easily others forget about the victims.

Anonymous said...

Mike Hickey should still be in Prison for what he did to
Kellie what a piece of shit he should have Rotted in Prison