Copyright 1996 The Washington Post

The Washington Post

June 05, 1996, Wednesday, Final Edition


LENGTH: 745 words

HEADLINE: Throats of Shenandoah Hikers Were Slashed, Authorities Say; Slayings Worry Visitors to National Park

BYLINE: Rajiv Chandrasekaran; Tod Robberson, Washington Post Staff Writers



The two young women whose bodies were found over the weekend in Shenandoah National Park died when their throats were slashed at a remote

campsite, officials said yesterday, but authorities still refused to release other details of the slayings.

Julianne Williams, 24, and Lollie Winans, 26, died sometime after May 24, when they were last seen by other hikers near the Appalachian Trail, where

they had been on a five-day hike.

Williams, an aspiring geologist, loved being in the wilderness, searching for rocks and camping in remote places. Winans, also an avid hiker, had been

developing a program to help sexual abuse victims find healing in the outdoors.

Park authorities maintained yesterday that the slayings were "an isolated incident." Spokesman Paul Pfenninger refused to explain why officials think

other visitors are not in danger, other than to say that "something [investigators] found at the site led them to believe it was an isolated incident." He

would not say what that was.

But in a telephone interview last night, Pfenninger played down the significance of evidence found at the scene, saying park officials "do not know" if the

attacker or attackers will strike again. The spokesman also said that he used the phrase "isolated incident" to mean investigators have no similar crimes at

Shenandoah or any other national park to link the murders to.

Park officials would not say whether the women's bodies were found clothed or whether there was any indication that they had been sexually assaulted.

They have declined to explain why it was not immediately clear that the deaths were homicides, which they said led them to withhold the news of the

slayings for more than 24 hours.

Park officials said they would increase ranger patrols and institute other security measures at the park. Several hikers and campers in the normally tranquil

park criticized rangers for failing to provide more information.

"We don't know what to look for," said hiker David Thompson, of Rochester, N.Y. "Obviously there's somebody out there to avoid. This guy could be

a threat to anybody."

Thompson said he was not going to camp outside last night because of the deaths, and three female campers from Wisconsin said they might cut short

their planned trip from Front Royal to Staunton.

"We asked a ranger, and he said, 'Just take caution. We can't tell you anything,' " said Ann Koziboski, 33, of Milwaukee. "That's what's freaking us


Park officials are telling hikers and new visitors to the park few details about the slayings. "I do not know at this time whether there is a suspect still in the

park," Pfenninger said.

The bodies were found by rangers Saturday -- a day after Williams's father reported the women missing -- at a wooded campsite about a half-mile from

the Skyland lodge. The two were hiking with a golden retriever named Taj, who was found unharmed near the site, officials said.

National Park Service officials said yesterday an autopsy found that both women died of cuts to their necks. But Gregory F. Stiles, the park's chief

ranger, said that when investigators found the bodies, "it took us quite a while to determine" the deaths were homicides, rather than suicides or accidents.

Five FBI agents and several dozen rangers searched the area near the campsite, located about a quarter-mile down a gently sloping trail from Skyline

Drive. A loud mountain stream beside the campsite could have drowned out the sounds of someone approaching.

According to FBI statistics, the 280-square-mile park was the site of three aggravated assaults, one rape and two homicides -- both dead bodies dumped

on park grounds -- from 1991 to 1995.

Williams, received a 1994 geology degree from Carleton College in Minnesota and planned to start work last Saturday for a water-quality monitoring

program in Burlington, Vt., where she had lived for six months, according to her brother-in-law Ian Gee.

"Why should anybody go into a national park and do this type of violent act against two young people?" Gee said.

Williams and Winans planned to share a house, and Winans was going to lead summer camping trips and then return to Unity College in Maine to finish

her college degree in outdoor recreation programs.

"She found her spirituality in the outdoors," said Winans's father, John W. Winans. "It connected her with the Lord. It was her true love."

Robberson reported from Shenandoah National Park.



GRAPHIC: Photo, family photo; Photo, The Washington Post, JULIANNE WILLIAMS LOLLIE WINANS


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Copyright 1996 The Washington Post

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June 04, 1996, Tuesday, Final Edition


LENGTH: 1022 words

HEADLINE: 2 Women Slain In Shenandoah National Park; Hikers' Bodies Found At Secluded Campsite

BYLINE: Rajiv Chandrasekaran; Tod Robberson, Washington Post Staff Writers



Two young women were slain at a secluded campsite near the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park, authorities said yesterday after finding the

hikers' bodies over the weekend.

The women were found by park rangers Saturday night within three miles of the popular Skyland lodge along Skyline Drive, about 10 miles east of

Luray, Va. They had planned a five-day hike through the park that was to have ended on Memorial Day, park officials said.

The victims were Julianne Williams, 24, of St. Cloud, Minn., and Lollie Winans, 26, of Unity, Maine, a law enforcement official close to the

investigation said last night.

Rangers and administrators at the park, about 80 miles southwest of Washington, revealed few details about the slayings, saying that doing so might

compromise the criminal investigation. They said they would not discuss a cause of death until a coroner had finished examining the bodies.

"It's clear this is a homicide," said Robert Marriott, a National Park Service law enforcement official in Washington.

The women were not shot or stabbed, Marriott said. He declined to say whether the pair were sexually assaulted.

The bodies were found at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Marriott said. He said the women appeared to have been dead for 12 to 15 hours, but other officials said

they may have been killed several days earlier.

Greg Stiles, the park's chief ranger, said officials did not notify the news media as soon as the bodies were discovered because they wanted to determine

first whether the deaths were homicides. "Usually it's an accident or a suicide" when someone is found dead in the park, Stiles said.

Both victims were affiliated with Woodswomen Inc., a Minneapolis-based group that provides outdoor adventure and education programs for women,

said Denise Mitten, the group's executive director. Williams and Winans had worked as interns for the group last summer, leading outdoors programs in

Minnesota, Mitten said.

The two struck up a friendship that continued over the year as Williams worked in Vermont and Winans attended Unity College in Maine, Mitten said.

Their trip to Virginia was not related to the outdoors group, she said.

"It's an absolutely awful tragedy," Mitten said. "These women were so ready to serve, to teach, to give."

Williams had previously worked as a park ranger at Big Bend National Park in Texas. Winans was studying outdoor recreation, Mitten said.

"It's just unthinkable," Mitten said. "Normally you just worry about the weather and animals when you're in the country. You never think anything like

this could happen."

Rangers began searching the park on Friday after receiving a telephone call from the father of one of the women who told them that his daughter was late

in returning from a hiking trip, a law enforcement official said. The FBI has joined park rangers and the Virginia State Police in investigating the deaths.

The two women had two back-country camping permits, one for the area where they were found and the other for Nicholson Hollow, about five miles

northeast, park spokeswoman Robbie Brockwehl said.

They were supposed to have traveled from the Skyland area to Nicholson Hollow by May 26 and to have left the park the next day, Brockwehl said.

"People don't always camp in the area they plan to," she said. "Maybe they got tired. Maybe the weather was bad."

Last night, park spokesman Paul Pfenninger said "no arrests have been made in conjunction with this case."

Earlier, police questioned a man described by a park ranger as "tall, scruffy-looking" and bearded, who was taken into custody about 5 p.m. near a park


The man, whose presence in the park was reported to police by a couple who had encountered him on a trail, was camping and had no backpack or

camping permit, the ranger said. Pfenninger said later that "routinely, arrests are made in the park" but that "no link has been made" between that man and

the slayings.

No further details about the man were available.

By yesterday afternoon, news of the slayings had circulated among many of the guests at Skyland. Several visitors said they were stunned that a violent

crime could occur in such a remote and tranquil setting.

"You used to think that national parks were safe. Maybe animals could get you, but certainly nothing like this," said Howard Shirley, of St. Joseph, Mo.,

who was visiting the lodge with his wife, Sue.

"We'll stay here, but we'll certainly be careful," Sue Shirley said. "We'll keep the doors locked tonight."

Eric Pinard and Colette Chayer, from Montreal, said they had spent the last two months hiking the Appalachian Trail and planned to continue along the

trail until they reached Maine.

Chayer said she felt safe hiking with a male companion. "But when I think of the women out here hiking alone, it really scares me," she said.

"One thing that's been upsetting us is that Skyline Drive being so close to the trail makes it too accessible," she said. "The Forest Service warned us that it

was a risk."

Pinard added, "Not necessarily that it's a risk to your life, but there are a lot of yahoos out there partying."

The women are the eighth and ninth people to be killed along the Appalachian Trail in the last 22 years, said Brian King, a spokesman for the Appalachian

Trail Conference, a nonprofit group based in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., that maintains parts of the trail.

The last slayings along the trail occurred in 1990 near Harrisburg, Pa. A drifter from Florida shot one hiker in the head and stabbed another as they slept

in a camping shelter.

"There's an expectation that because it's a trail and it's the back country, you're immune from everything else that's going on in the world," King said.

"That's not true."

But King added that the trail, which attracts almost 4 million visitors a year, is "still a very safe place."

Park officials, without saying why, maintained that visitors should not worry about repeat attacks.

"We believe this was an isolated incident," Stiles, the park's chief ranger, said.

Robberson reported from Shenandoah National Park.



GRAPHIC: Photo, reuter, WILLIAMS


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