When Rhianda Dillard was strangled to death in her Offutt dorm room, Elizabeth Dillard lost more than just her daughter. She lost her best friend, her religious faith, her trust for other people.
“I lost a part of me. It broke my family. We’re not the same,” Dillard testified Monday during the court-martial of Airman 1st Class Timothy Wilsey. Wilsey pleaded guilty last week to the premeditated murder of Rhianda Dillard.
Dillard’s mother said she cannot forgive him.
“I have hate in my heart for you. I can’t forget what you did to her,” Elizabeth Dillard said during an emotional statement. “Every day, I want you to think of my daughter. When you sleep, she’s not sleeping any more. When you eat, she’s not eating any more.”
Dillard testified during the sentencing phase of Wilsey’s court martial, which is being held at the Roman L. Hruska Federal Courthouse in downtown Omaha. He has acknowledged killing Rhianda Dillard July 29, 2016, and then deserting his unit — the 55th Intelligence Support Squadron — immediately afterward. He was arrested at a motel in Emporia, Virginia, less than two weeks later.
Dillard’s co-workers at the 55th Strategic Communications Squadron described the confusion, and then horror, when the 20-year-old airman — who had never before been late for work — didn’t show for her evening shift.
Airman 1st Class Joshua Eldredge lived on the same dorm floor and worked with her. Thinking she had overslept, he got a dorm liaison to open the door to her room. He walked in and saw her lying on the bed.
“I thought she was passed out. I tapped her on the knee and said, ‘Hey, you’re late for work,’ ” Eldredge recalled. “She was cold. We felt for a pulse, but there wasn’t any. I ran out of the room.”
Prosecutors finished presenting their evidence late Monday morning. After a lunch break, Wilsey’s attorneys were expected to present their case. Wilsey himself may make a statement to the court.