UPDATE: AT Hiker Pleads Guilty after Reports of Threats on the Trail

UPDATE: (8:35 a.m. ET April 26) The Appalachian Trail hiker accused of threatening other hikers on the trail has pleaded guilty to several charges after being arrested on the trail in Georgia on Monday, WJHL TV reported.

The TV station said James Jordan, 30, of Massachusetts, pleaded guilty in court Thursday in Erwin, TN, to criminal impersonation, possession of a Schedule VI drug (which includes marijuana), and public intoxication. He was fined and put on probation, WJHL said.

On the AT, Jordan was known as Sovereign.

UPDATE: ( 8:15 a.m. ET April 23) A man who reportedly threatened other hikers on the Appalachian Trail has been arrested, WVLT  in Knoxville, TN, has reported, citing Unicoi County Sheriff Michael Hensley.

The report adds to a confusing story that emerged Monday, when Hensley posted on Facebook that authorities were seeking a hiker who reportedly had threatened other hikers and who had brandished a machete and a knife.

Later in the day Hensley posted on Facebook that the hiker had been located and authorities determined that he made no criminal threats.

Now multiple TV stations are reporting that the hiker, who goes by the name Sovereign, faces assault charges based on a confrontation on Rector Laurel Road in Tennessee, near the North Carolina border.

The TV stations reported that Sovereign is being held in the Unicoi County jail.

He was reportedly in possession of a Schedule VI drug (which includes marijuana) along with a 20-inch knife, and caused a disturbance near Sams Gap while under the influence of an intoxicant, the TV stations reported, citing the sheriff.

UPDATE (6:41 p.m. ET April 22): Local authorities have contacted the hiker and have determined that he made no criminal threats, and consequently has not been charged with a crime.

The item thought to be a machete was actually his guitar.

Original Story

A man who apparently threatened hikers on the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina on Sunday, April 21, is being sought by the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff Michael Hensley said in a Facebook post that the hiker, a white male, calls himself Sovereign and had threatened other hikers at Devils Fork Gap and also in Madison County. He is believed to be heading toward Sams Gap on the Tennessee-North Carolina border.

WCYB News 5 said hikers told police that the man threatened them with a shovel at the JeriCabin Shelter on Sunday.

The man was last seen about 5:30 p.m. Sunday entering the AT from Rector Laurel Road in Tennessee, near the North Carolina border, Hensley said. He has a pit bull with him.

Hensley said the man, a white male, is carrying a knife and machete, which he brandished at hikers.

The sheriff’s Department and the US Forest Service have received calls about the man.
Hensley said authorities searched near Rector Laurel Road and Pete Creek on Sunday but did not find the hiker. They are continuing to search the AT for the man.

Hensley asks people to call 911 if they see the hiker.

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Comments 5

  • Judy Gallant-Root : Apr 25th

    He arrived at Cherry Gap Shelter tonight 4/25/19, according to a thru-hiker who communicated this to me tonight. He is behaving erratically and struck his dog but I am not aware of any threats he made to the hikers.

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  • TaoJones : May 12th

    And now (May 12th) this phycho who authorities released stating he was actually carrying a guitar, not a machete, has killed a male hiker and seriously wounded a female hiker in Virginia with . . . his machete. Even with all the warnings in the world, the authorities couldn’t see this coming, SMH.

    • HikerGal : May 13th

      According to my friends who live near where he was arrested the first time, the Sheriff was practically begging the hikers who had first hand knowledge to come back and testify that the man was indeed threatening and scaring hikers along the trail. NONE not ONE ! Would mess up their precious timeline to testify because it would mean leaving the trail. THAT is why he was released- not because of the Sheriff or Judge!

      • Sputnik : Nov 19th

        This is true. They would not testify.


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