In 2013, Isabella Guzman, then just 18 years old, shocked the world with the brutal murder of her mother, Yun Mi Hoy, in their home. Fast forward seven years, a video of her court appearance unexpectedly went viral on TikTok, leading to her bizarre rise to internet fame due to her inappropriate courtroom behaviour.

Isabella Guzman during her court hearing
Isabella Guzman during her court appearance

During her initial trial, Isabella pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Medical professionals diagnosed her with schizophrenia, leading to her confinement in a mental health institution until she was no longer considered a threat to herself or others. Seven years later, Isabella sought release from the institution, asserting that her schizophrenia was now under control. However, her 2013 court video resurfaced on social media in 2020, resulting in a disturbing fanbase.

Who is Isabella Guzman?

Isabella’s childhood was fraught with behavioural issues. Her mother sent her to live with her biological father when she was around 7 years old. Despite moving back in with her mother, Isabella’s struggle persisted throughout her teenage years. She dropped out of high school and displayed threatening and disrespectful behaviour towards her mother. The day before the attack, they had a heated argument that ended in Isabella spitting in her mother’s face.

According to CBS4 Denver, Yun Mi Hoy received an email from her daughter the next morning, which read, “You will pay.” Terrified by the email, she contacted the police, who arrived at the house that afternoon and spoke with Isabella. They told her that her mother could legally kick her out of the house if she didn’t start respecting her and following her rules. Hoy also called Isabella’s biological father, Robert, to come and talk to her about her growing aggressive behaviour.

Robert later recalled, “I went to talk to Isabella, and we sat down in the backyard looking at the trees and the animals, and I started to talk to her about the respect that people should have for their parents. And I was trying to let her know that she should be obedient to her parents, not rebellious, that she should try to listen more, and that everything was going fine. I thought that I made progress.” But obviously, it didn’t do anything, because hours later, Isabella did the unthinkable.

The night of the murder of Yun Mi Hoy

On the night of the murder, Yun Mi Hoy returned home from work around 9:30 pm and went to take a shower. Her husband, Ryan, heard a thumping sound and his wife calling his name. When he arrived at the bathroom, Isabella locked the door and was pushing against the other side. Ryan tried to push through, but when he saw blood seeping beneath the door, he raced back downstairs to call 911.

While on the phone with dispatch, Ryan said that at first, he was unable to open the door because Isabella wouldn’t let him enter, and then he heard his wife say “Jehovah.” When Ryan came back, he saw Isabella standing in the bathroom doorway holding a knife, and his wife was on the floor, covered in blood, with a baseball bat next to her. He ran into the bathroom and tried to resuscitate her, but she was already dead. An autopsy report found that her throat had been slashed, and she’d been stabbed 79 times, with 31 stabs to the face and 48 stab wounds to the neck.

Ryan recalled that he never heard Isabella say anything, and she didn’t speak to him as she exited the bathroom and walked past him while staring him down.

Ryan told dispatch that Isabella left wearing a pink sports bra and turquoise shorts, taking the knife with her. They quickly launched a manhunt informing the public that Isabella was armed and dangerous. Officers found her in a nearby parking garage the next afternoon, her clothes were still covered in her mother’s blood.

On the day of her arraignment hearing on September 5, 2013, Isabella Guzman had to be dragged out of her cell. When she finally arrived in the courtroom, she displayed strange behaviour, making bizarre faces at the camera, smirking, and pointing at her eyes.

Isabella pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. A doctor testified that she had been suffering from schizophrenia and had experienced delusions for years. She had not even realized that she was stabbing her mother. Instead, she believed that she had killed a woman named Cecelia to save the world.

George Brauchler, Judicial District Attorney of Colorado said “We punish people who make decisions to do wrong when they knew better and they could have done something differently. And in this particular case, I am convinced, based on the evidence that I’ve seen and the information that’s been presented in court, that this woman did not know right from wrong and she could not have acted differently than she did, given the significant schizophrenia and paranoid delusions, audible, visual hallucinations that she was going through. I was convinced of it and I felt like in the interest of justice I had to take these steps.

District Attorney George Brauchler accepted Isabella’s plea and sent her to the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo, where she was ordered to stay until she was no longer a danger to herself or her community.

Isabella Guzmann’s viral video

In 2020, several TikTok accounts started posting videos from Isabella’s 2013 arraignment. In the video, Isabella displayed bizarre behaviour, making faces at the camera, smirking, and pointing at her eyes. Several TikTok accounts started posting videos of her court appearance, some set to the hit song “Sweet but Psycho,” and others showed creators attempting to imitate Isabella’s behaviour.

Meanwhile, Isabella was still undergoing therapy and trying to find the proper medication for her schizophrenia. In November 2020, she petitioned the court for her release, claiming that she was no longer a threat to those around her.

She told in a virtual interview with CBS4: “I’m not mentally ill anymore. I’m not a danger to myself or others, I was not myself when I did that, and I have since been restored to full health,”

Why did she kill her mom?

Isabella Guzman during her virtual interview
Isabella Guzman during her virtual interview

Isabella alleged that she had suffered years of abuse at the hands of her mother. “I was abused at home by my family for many years. My parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I left the religion when I was 14, and the abuse at home worsened after I quit,” she said.

As for the fight that led to her mother’s death, homicide detectives offered no clue about a motive. But according to Ryan Hoy, the teenager had been a challenge, and her behavior had become so difficult that her biological father had to take her in.

Isabella’s aunt, Melanie Guzman, said that she saw a typical teenager when she visited the family a few months before the incident. Her mother spoiled her, and although she could get angry, violence seemed outside her character. Melanie believes that there’s more to the investigation, saying that “there’s something more to it.”

“Her demeanor is pretty sweet. She’s very coquette. I can see her yelling, screaming and storming off and locking herself in her room and turning on her iPod,” Guzman said. “But not being violent like that.”

Isabella Guzman now

Isabella Guzman has been in confinement since being found guilty of murdering her mother in 2013. In June 2021, a judge ruled that Guzman would be permitted to leave the hospital for therapy sessions that involve group therapy and additional types of therapy. She is allowed to leave the state hospital for certain activities. Guzman will be required to wear a GPS monitor and be accompanied by a staff member at all times when she leaves the hospital. She has been granted permission to leave the hospital for therapy sessions, but her release is not in sight yet because her mental health will have to be attested by the hospital and affirmed by the court. Guzman has been receiving mental health treatment and her sanity has been restored. She has been on medication and has claimed that she is not mentally ill anymore and is not a danger to herself or others. It is unclear when or if Guzman will be released from confinement.

Frequently asked questions about Isabella Guzman –

Q: Who is Isabella Guzman?
A: Isabella Guzman is an American woman who brutally stabbed her mother, Yun Mi Hoy, to death in 2013 when she was 18 years old.

Q: What was her motive for the murder?
A: According to court documents, Guzman believed she was killing a woman named Cecelia in order to save the world. She did not believe her mother was her actual mother.

Q: What was her plea in court?
A: Guzman pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and a doctor testified that she was suffering from schizophrenia and had experienced delusions for years.

Q: Where is Isabella Guzman now?
A: After seven years of hospitalization, Guzman claimed her schizophrenia was under control and petitioned to be released from the institution. Isabella Guzman has been in confinement since being found guilty of murdering her mother in 2013.

Q: Why did her case gain attention on TikTok?
A: Footage from her 2013 court hearing resurfaced on TikTok, gaining her a confounding fanbase.

Q: What was her upbringing like?
A: Guzman had a difficult upbringing and was sent away to live with her biological father at the age of 7. She exhibited behavioural issues from a young age and was diagnosed with schizophrenia after the murder.

Q: What is her current age?
A: As of August 2023, Guzman is around 28 years old.

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