Slain Hiker Identified, Details Emerge About Appalachian Trail Attack
43-year-old Ronald Sanchez was stabbed to death in the early-morning hours of Saturday, May 11th. The accused is 30-year-old James Jordan. Jordan is currently facing charges of murder and assault with intent to murder in a Virginia federal court. Ronald “Stronghold” Sanchez was identified by federal authorities Tuesday, May 14th.
According to an FBI affidavit filed on Monday, Jordan approached a group of Appalachian Trail hikers on May 10th, playing his guitar, singing, and acting unstable.
On the evening of May 10th, the group of hikers set up camp further along the trail in Wyeth County, where Jordan appeared around 1am. He addressed the hikers through their tents, threatening to pour gasoline on their tents and set them on fire. As the four hikers decided to pack and leave the site, Jordan approached them, wielding a knife.
Two hikers fled the site northbound on the trail, placing a 911 call at 2:30am. After giving chase, Jordan then returned to the site and confronted the remaining two hikers, Sanchez and an as-yet identified female hiker. After a verbal confrontation, Jordan began stabbing Sanchez, who fell to the ground. The female hiker fled the scene, pursued by Jordan who caught up to her and began stabbing her. The female hiker fell to the ground and played dead, at which point Jordan left the scene. The female hiker continued down the trail, finding help with a pair of hikers who assisted her six miles to Smyth County. They placed a 911 call at 3:12am reporting the attack.
Law enforcement arrived at the scene of the attack a little after 6am on May 11th, locating Sanchez’s body as well as a large knife in close proximity. They then located Jordan near the scene. The full affidavit can be found here.
Jordan had been previously detained after causing disturbances and threatening hikers further south on the Appalachian Trail, with reports made to local law enforcement in Unicoi County, Tennessee in mid-April. On April 22nd, Jordan caused a disturbance at a trail crossing. He was taken into custody on drug and fake ID charges. Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley has stated that as no hikers pressed charges against Jordan, the department was unable to keep him in custody. Jordan pled guilty to the drug and fake ID charges and was ordered to stay off the trail.
Our initial coverage can be found here:
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