A man and woman who were hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail in West Virginia were brutally attacked by a machete-wielding maniac on Saturday.

One of the victims died from his injuries, but the other was able to be treated for her wounds.

A Massachusetts man has been arrested in connection with the attack and will face federal murder charges, according to a report. 

Police identified 30-year-old James Jordan following his arrest on Saturday. He has been charged with one count of murder and one count of assault with intent to murder. 

The suspect, also known on the trail as “Sovereign” had been reported in southern states, with other reports coming in previously about the man chasing and threatening others with a large knife or machete. 

30-year-old James Jordan faces murder charges after the brutal attack.


“He had a reputation because of his belligerence with other hikers in Tennessee and Georgia,” said a man with the trail conservation. “With smartphones, word gets around very quickly.”

The woman suffered defensive wounds from the attack but managed to escape.

“She pretended to be dead and when [Jordan] walked away after his dog, she took off running,” said Wythe County Sheriff Keith Dunagan. 

Once he was gone, she managed to flee, traveling 6 miles before eventually running into another group of hikers who helped get her to medical treatment. 

“Thanks to their efforts, the suspect was safely apprehended and a seriously wounded victim received critical medical care,” US Attorney Thomas Cullen said in a news release. “We will continue to work with our state and local partners to bring the perpetrator of this senseless and brutal attack to justice.”

The trail is a milestone for hikers around the country. (Wikipedia)


The Washington Post reported that Wythe County, Va., sheriff’s deputies located Jordan along the trail in southwestern Virginia by tracking an SOS signal triggered by one of the victims.

Authorities have not released the names of the victims but described a ‘horrific’ scene as they attempted to help the victims and track down the assailant. Multiple agencies helped to catch Jordan; he did not put up a fight when police caught up to him.


“We had our whole team out there, so (the suspect) wisely just surrendered himself.”

Each year, thousands of hikers hit the historic trail, often spending up to six months in the woods during the 2,100 mile trek that runs from Georgia to Maine. The crime scene was about 500 miles into the trail.

The Appalachian Trail runs approximately 2,100 miles. (Flickr)


The public was horrified by the news of the deadly interaction.

“The whole Appalachian Trail community of hikers and volunteers is profoundly sickened by the horrific and deadly attack Saturday morning,” said Suzanne Dixon, president of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Jordan had been in trouble with other hikers before, but after his initial arrest they refused to press charges or testify against him, leading a judge to let him back into the community.

“I did everything in my power to get this guy off the trail,” Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley said. “And I took him off the trail, I did. But the courts deemed something else.

Jordan is scheduled to make his first appearance in US District Court in Abingdon on Monday.