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The Man Who Prayed People Dead

From what I can remember Billy was a member of a family that didn’t farm, but who owned land that they rented.  Billy had an income from the rents and lived in a house in Urbana.  To occupy his time he walked long distances collecting junk that he stored in his house.  I never had a direct encounter with him although I did see him a few times as he walked along the highway.  From brief glimpses he seemed small and wiry and oblivious to the traffic passing by.  Most of what I know about him is from stories that the neighbors told.

The family that had the most to say about Billy lived in a house that his family owned.  Billy’s family still kept some cattle on pasture next to the house and Billy would show up there I guess to visit the cows.  The cows were at the end of a long circuit that he would make starting in Urbana.  The distance was around 15 miles and for a time he seems to have made the trip frequently.  The family that lived in the rented house had four teenage sons.  Billy wasn’t liked much by these sons and once in a while there would be a fight which ended in Billy getting chased away.  As he left he would shout that he would “Pray them all dead”.

I had never heard of anyone saying they were going to pray someone dead before, however it wasn’t the first time that Billy had made that threat.  It turns out that Billy was mostly known for that threat.  Some people just thought it was bizarre while others actually were afraid of him.  Supposedly one older woman in Philo that he had said he would pray dead did die.  So in some minds that gave him credibility.  I heard that our Road Commissioner took him seriously.  I’m don’t know what process he used to pray people dead although if it had been effective from all the threats he made along his path then the area along that road would have been a wasteland.  I know that the boys that he said he would pray dead didn’t die or even get sick.

My opinion is that you could store up quite a lot of bad Karma using prayer as a way to kill people and maybe that is what caught up to Billy since he died in an odd way.  One night in the mid-seventies as he was walking along the highway he probably thought he was standing far enough away from the road.  Still the truck that was coming up behind him had unusually long side mirrors and he was stuck on the head by one of them.  He was not killed instantly by this and some saw that as a sign that there was something supernatural about Billy.  Still the man who prayed people dead never did regain consciousness and thus was unable to tell the driver of the truck that he would pray him dead.  When he did die after a few days his family went to his house and found it was full of garbage.  From what people said it took several garbage trucks to take it all away.

Now, if there ever was a prelude to a ghost story I would think that the story of Billy would be one.  Still I have heard of no sightings of Billy along his regular route.  Although angry, obsessive people are suppose to make good ghosts Billy must have decided he had enough of walking along highway 130.

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