Luckily for two men in Southwestern Virginia, history did not repeat itself.
The Giles County Sheriff's Office conducted an investigation today into a double shooting that occurred Tuesday night. Both men survived the shooting despite wounds to the face and chest of one, and the back and neck of the second. The shooting occurred along the Appalachian Trail between Giles and Bland counties around the Dismal Creek area. Virginia State Police arrested Randall Lee Smith after he flipped a truck belonging to one of the victims not far from the shooting site.
In 1982, Smith pleaded guilty to the 1981 murders of two hikers on the Appalachian Trail. He shot Robert Mountford Jr. three times, stabbed Laura Susan Ramsay more than a dozen times as they slept in Wapiti Shelter and left their bodies in shallow, leaf-covered graves. He was given two consecutive 15-year sentences. A plea agreement halted the case just before it went to trial in Giles County. Smith was released from prison in 1996 and returned to Giles County to live with his mother, who later died in 2000. In late March, Smith was reported missing by a neighbor after he disappeared.
Smith's earlier case was the subject of a novel by Jess Carr, Murder on the Appalachian Trail.