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Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 5:07 am
by Guests
I've hiked Blood Mountain frequently and just saw this posting by an Atlanta newspaper. Thought you all might want to be aware of it:

UNION COUNTY, Ga. -- Police are searching for a man with a red-colored retriever in connection with the disappearance of a hiker in the north Georgia mountains.

Meredith Emerson, 24, from Gwinnett County, has been missing since she went hiking on Blood Mountain Trail in Union County on Tuesday.

Friends believe she spent Tuesday and Wednesday night outside in the cold north Georgia mountains. Temperatures reached into the teens both nights. Her roommate said Emerson is an experienced hiker familiar with the mountains.

"Let me tell you something, Meredith Emerson can do anything," said family spokesperson Peggy Bailey.

Other hikers who were on the trail Tuesday told authorities they saw Emerson talking to a white male, 50-60 years old, described as weathered looking with missing teeth. The man had a red dog with him he called "Danny."

Police are searching for that man.

Emerson's roommate said Emerson left a note saying she went hiking with her dog. Authorities said they have located Emerson's car and her dog's leash, but they have found no sign of Emerson or her black Lab, Ella.

Police also found a police baton and a pair of sunglasses near Emerson's car.

Another hiker told officials he saw a man with a similar baton clipped to his belt hiking on the same trail that Emerson took.

On Thursday search organizers asked other hikers to stay off the Blood Mountain Trail while they used an infrared device. They are hoping to pick up images of Emerson from her body heat.

Emerson is 5'4", 120 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes.

"She's an experienced hiker and a blue belt in martial arts," said Julia Karrenbauer, Emerson's roommate. "She's athletic and has a good head on her shoulders. So we're just hoping for the best."

A command post was set up and volunteers and Union County officials searched the trails Wednesday. Authorities pulled all searchers from the trails just before 6 p.m. Wednesday. They resumed their search first thing Thursday morning. A Georgia State Patrol helicopter was going to take part in the search Wednesday but was forced to land due to high winds.

Family members were at the search command post on Thursday.

Union County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Jeff Fortenberry said up to 30 emergency personnel and deputies planned to search a mountainous, six-mile stretch of trails south of Blairsville on Thursday. He said investigators have found no signs of foul play.

Temperatures reached 13 degrees with the wind chill factor in the single digits Wednesday night. Union County received snow Tuesday night -- which canceled classes for that school system Wednesday and Thursday.

Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 2:36 pm
by Stagefright
I read that they are suspicious that the same guy (also seen in a yellow jacket) - committed this crime. Kind of freaky cause I hike in Pisgah from time to time:

N.C. Couple's Son Looks For Missing Father

POSTED: 11:01 am EST December 15, 2007
UPDATED: 8:23 am EST December 16, 2007

HENDERSONVILLE, S.C. -- The son of a couple who disappeared while hiking in October is in Western North Carolina searching for his father and hoping to find the person who killed his mother.

Irene Bryant’s body was found in the Pisgah National Forest last month after a week-long search. Her husband, John Bryant, has not been found in the two months since the couple was last seen alive, headed for a day of hiking in the forest.

Bob Bryant, the couple’s son, returned to his parents' home in Hendersonville from Texas last week and has spent each day searching the forest, trying to find his father's remains.

John, 79, and Irene Bryant, 84, were avid hikers. After they did not return from a hiking trip, searchers discovered that a 911 call was made from the forest using the couple’s cell phone.

After nearly a week of searching, Irene Bryant's body was found in the woods in November.

Investigators determined that she died after being hit in the head.

Now, Bob Bryant wants to complete the search.

"We just want to find dad," he told WYFF News 4’s Mike McCormick. "After that, we want to find who did it, such that they face justice for it and it doesn't happen to another family. If this happened to us it could happen again."

Bryant said that until he finds his father, his biggest worry is the unknown.

"It's kind of scary, because it seems like I'm always looking around, under a bush or over a cliff and thinking 'this might be the place' and I'm always preparing myself," he said.

This week, police found a man's body outside a home in Brevard and Bob Bryant was immediately notified. [ "I didn't feel like it was going to be him, because I guess I have a mental image … of who these people are," Bryant said. "The person they found was in a grave and I just thought the people who killed my mom and dad were too damn lazy to do something like that."

Transylvania County investigators quickly determined that the remains were not those of John Bryant.

So the son continues his search. Saturday, he will get help from a horseback group who will help him search a part of the Pisgah National Forest.

Bryant said that he plans to continue searching, staying in his parents' house until Christmas.

He said that he's aware that his search may be a long-shot.

"The way I look at it, my chance of finding him if I look is pretty slim, but my chance of finding him if I don't look is zero," he said.

Bryant said that investigators are looking for a mountain-biker with the Internet username "Cannonball."

That person blogged about seeing someone in the area near where Irene Bryant's body was found, attempting to break into a car around the time of the Bryants' disappearance.

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 3:33 pm
by Tree Top Flyer
Been here in past years several times around Christmas. It seems weird because out of all the times I've been there I've never seen another person on the trails, not one. I really do pray she is okay.

Fox News has this:

[url=,2933,320309,00.html]Cops: Little hope for missing Ga hiker

Police say search for missing Georgia hiker Meredith Emerson now recovery effort; Gary Michael Hilton in custody

Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 5:55 pm
by Tree Top Flyer

Posted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 3:59 am
by Tree Top Flyer
Man charged in hiker's death suspected in other cases

Question: Does the recent violence on trails prompt people to begin carrying protective items, or just stay off remote trails when alone? This is really a shame.

Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 6:40 am
by Guests
Sounds like the guy is a serial nut case and that they are going to pin him for at least two other incidents on the trail. There's also a 27 year old guy that disappeared in FLA that they suspect he took out. What a wacko. Thank God he is off the trail systems and out of the national parks. Fry him.

Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:08 am
by TreeFrog
And the cops keep finding more deaths to link him to. Check this one out. I never even heard of this case and have hiked in the area frequently as my family has a mountain house near by:

BRYSON CITY, N.C. (AP) -- The man charged in the beating death of a Georgia hiker is being looked at in the 2005 disappearance of a Florida woman who was hiking in western North Carolina (Related: Timeline Photo Gallery).

Investigators said 26-year-old Rossana Miliani was last seen in Bryson City on December 7th, 2005.

A store clerk from Bryson City recently told a private investigator that Miliani came into her store with a white man in his 60s and appeared nervous when they bought a backpack. The clerk contacted private investigator Steve Siske after reading about Miliani on the second anniversary of her disappearance.

Siske said he noticed case similarities when 61-year-old Gary Michael Hilton was arrested for the murder of 24-year-old Meredith Emerson, whose body was found in a national forest in the north Georgia mountains.

A spokeswoman with the State Bureau of Investigation confirmed Monday that agents are "considering the possibility of a connection," but declined further comment.

Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times,

Posted: Wed Jan 16, 2008 4:00 pm
by Tree Top Flyer
I wonder if Backpacker is going to do a feature story on this event as they have with disappearances on other trails over the last couple of years. I think once the facts are in and it's found out the depth of his crimes this would make a very good article, better than the guy who bummed and stole his way along the AT, then finally got tossed in jail.

Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 3:32 pm
by Tree Top Flyer

Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 1:37 am
by Stagefright
To your point TTF, I don't see hardcore backpackers changing their ways or carrying weapons. Most of us know that these are isolated incidents that get a lot of press coverage. Big cities are way more dangerous and most of us don't pack weapons while walking around them. I read this article that made an interesting point though. Specifically, they said that the real danger is engaging with someone that seems sketchy: ... xml&coll=5

"Trust your instincts," she says. "This is tough for women who have been conditioned to be nice to people. Avoid engaging with people who make you uneasy; your willingness to engage in polite conversation, even when you're visibly nervous, signals to a attacker that you're a potential target."

In fact, every homicide near or on the Appalachian Trail occurred after communication took place between the murderer and victim. Since the conservancy started keeping records in the 1960s, eight murders in six incidents have occurred.