James L. Jordan, 30, of West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, appeared in federal court Monday, where he was charged with murder and assault with intent to commit murder after a bloody attack early Saturday morning on the Appalachian Trail left one hiker dead and another hospitalized. A judge ordered Jordan be held in custody pending a psychiatric evaluation.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, the incident began when Jordan approached a group of four hikers (court filings do not indicate how the four were connected) somewhere in Jefferson National Forest in western Virginia on Friday evening.
In the court documents, the hikers said that Jordan was “acting disturbed and unstable, and was playing his guitar and singing.” Later that night, the four set up camp a few miles from where the first encounter occured, in Wythe County, Virginia. Jordan appeared and began threatening the hikers in their shelters, saying that he was going to “pour gasoline on their tents and burn them to death.” At that point, the four hikers decided to relocate their campsites. Jordan then confronted them with a knife. Two of the hikers, whose names have not been released, ran north on the trail to escape. They called 911 at 2:30 A.M., saying that they were being chased by a man with a knife.
Allegedly, Jordan eventually gave up the chase and returned to the campsite, near Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. He then reportedly began yelling at the two remaining hikers, a man and a woman whose names have not yet been released by authorities. A verbal altercation occurred between Jordan and the male hiker, who made an emergency call from his cell phone. Jordan then began stabbing the male hiker in the upper part of his body as the female hiker looked on.
According to the affidavit, when she saw her male companion fall to the ground, the female hiker attempted to run away. Jordan chased after her. As he caught up to her, the female hiker raised her arms in surrender. Jordan then began stabbing her. She suffered several stab wounds before falling down and playing dead. Jordan then left and returned to the campsite, according to authorities.
After Jordan left, the female hiker got up and continued to run down the trail, eventually coming upon a duo who were camping just off the trail. These two backpackers then helped the female victim hike six more miles to a trailhead, where they called 911. The wounded hiker was transported to a nearby medical center in Bristol, Tennessee, where she is recovering from her injuries.
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