What Are Some Details of Murders on the Appalachian Trail?

As of 2015, there have been at least 11 recorded murders on the Appalachian Trail. The trail opened in 1925, and the first known murder there took place in 1974, when Ralph Fox killed Joel Polsom at the Low Gap Trail Shelter in the Chattahoochee National Forest in northern Georgia. The following year, Paul Bigley reportedly killed Janice Balza on the trail with a hatchet so he could take her backpack.

One of the most gruesome recorded murders on the trail occurred in 1990, when drifter Paul David Crews murdered two hikers. He shot and killed Geoffrey Hood and raped, tortured and stabbed to death Hood’s girlfriend Molly LaRue at Cove Mountain near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Two hikers found the bodies in a three-sided log shelter. Eight days later, park rangers found Crews, identifying himself with the alias David Casey Horn, with the murder weapons and his victims’ possessions.

In 1996 two women died of incisions in their necks along the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, but as of 2015 the murderer case remains unsolved. Darrell Rice was indicted for the murders in 2002, but the charges were later dropped when DNA tests failed to prove he was the killer.