NJ Kidnapping Suspect Has History of Similar Allegations on PCT

A man who allegedly kidnapped a PCT hiker in 2018 but was never charged has been apprehended in connection with a similar crime. James Parrillo, 57, was arrested in New Jersey on February 7 after a woman he had allegedly held captive for the past year escaped and fled to a nearby gas station for help.

Police charged Parrillo with kidnapping, strangulation, aggravated assault, criminal restraint, hindering apprehension, obstruction, and refusing to provide a DNA sample.

The woman, whose name has not been released, said she first met Parrillo in February 2022 at a New Mexico gas station. Parrillo introduced himself as Brett Parker and said he needed a ride to Arizona, which she agreed to. They engaged in a consensual relationship, but about one month in, Parrillo assaulted her during an argument. He allegedly confiscated her phone and debit cards and threatened to kill her and her family.

During an argument to have Parrillo detained pre-trial, NJ Assistant Attorney General Theresa Hilton said Parrillo may have a history of engaging in predatory conduct with individuals.

“We are reaching out to law enforcement across jurisdictions to identify other people who may have additional information on the defendant. Our investigation is ongoing, and we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure we bring justice to this survivor,” said NJ Attorney General Matthew Platkin.

Parrillo’s predatory history may date as far back as the early 90s. Over the years, he has allegedly victimized and kidnapped multiple individuals, including Pacific Crest Trail hiker Kira Moon in March 2018.

James Parrillo. Center/New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. Left/Facebook 2014. Right/Unsolved Mysteries 1993. Composite via CrimeOnline.

According to Backpacker Magazine, Parrillo went by the trail name Medic on the PCT and allegedly told Moon he was a retired Navy Seal and Greenpeace deep-sea diver—both fabrications. He also told her he had recently sold his home for $4.5 million that he had been blown off a cliff earlier on trail during a windstorm near Mount Laguna.

Moon said that during their relationship, Parrillo repeatedly beat and raped her. After several months of captivity, she escaped Parrillo and went to the authorities. Parrillo was arrested, but he was released shortly after and was never prosecuted. Moon later died in 2019 in an electrical fire at her home in California.

Following Moon’s allegations, Parrillo went on to hike part of the Continental Divide Trail, this time claiming he had stage IV cancer. Meanwhile, Parillo became infamous in the hiking community, especially after Backpacker’s 2019 article shed light on Moon’s claims. Online groups like Facebook’s Missing from the PCT began tracking his movements on the trail.

Parrillo’s recent arrest in NJ has generated interest within the hiking community. Many are hopeful that he will be held accountable for his alleged crimes. NJ State Police are leading an ongoing investigation.

“The allegations, if proven, demonstrate a level of predatory conduct that poses an extreme danger to anyone who crosses paths with this defendant,” said Director Pearl Minato of the Division of Criminal Justice. “If you or someone you know has any additional information regarding this defendant, we urge you to contact the New Jersey State Police at 855-363-6548.”

Featured image: photo via NJ Office of Attorney General.

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Comments 1

  • Richard Warnock : Apr 13th

    Is he right now in jail in New Jersey Seriously cause there’s a person that looks and has the same name here ? in Florida my new boss getting bad vibes


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