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Season 4, Episode 10: Cult Guru or Serial Killer: Who Murdered Patricia Hicks?

Season #4

For many years, a set of remains found in Yosemite National Park were known as Summit Meadow Jane Doe. Just over a year ago, genetic genealogy revealed that the remains belonged to a woman named Patricia Hicks. Just 27 years old when the last credible sighting of her is recorded, Patricia had moved to Merced, California, after her marriage ended. Like a lot of us, she wanted a fresh start - but that wasn’t what she got. 

Let’s take a look at Matthew chapter 7, verses 15-20 from Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. Just like he always does, he gives us incredibly practical wisdom to help us navigate this broken world we live in. Let’s read that passage, then break it down into three easy to apply practices that will help us know who to trust and who just might be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 

Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

First, we need to shift our mindset to trusting after practicing discernment. Separate the sheep from the wolves in sheep’s clothing by examining them closely. We need to make determinations about people based on facts we discover through our own investigations. Don’t rely completely on what you’ve been told about a person - especially BY that person - but on what you can see for yourself.

Second, make sure people pass “the smell test” before you trust them! We’ve all had that carton of milk that’s been in the fridge maybe just a wee bit too long and we have to sniff it before we can trust that it’s safe to put in our coffee. We need to use that same test on people! If you just aren’t sure about someone, be sure you check them out before you let them into your inner circle.

Third, make “NO” your new favorite word. Can your son go somewhere alone with the youth pastor? No. Can the most popular teacher at school drive your daughter home from babysitting his kids? No. Look at your reflection in your cell phone. Say “No.” See how strong you look when that word rolls off of your tongue?

It is important to learn how to recognize a false prophet for when, not if, we encounter them. It says in Matthew 24:24 “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” I certainly don’t want that to happen to me or to you, so I hope you’ll practice these three steps

If you liked this episode, be sure to check out some earlier ones. I’ve had so many amazing guests who gave me fantastic information you won’t want to miss. You can also help someone else begin their journey as a different kind of PI - a person of impact, when you share the episode, and when you subscribe, give me a five star rating and a nice review. 

Please visit my website to access more episodes, read my blog posts, or check out ways you can financially support the podcast so that together we can impact more people, more families, and more communities. If you would like to contact me about booking me as a speaker, or ask about my consulting and investigative services, please email me at [email protected]


Anyone who has information about the disappearance or death of Patricia Hicks, please contact the National Parks Service Investigative Services Branch at 202-379-4761. You can also send an email to [email protected]


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