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Crime And Violence In Our Parks

There is currently a lot of debate about revolving around the Second Amendment and a persons right to protect themselves. At the heart of the matter is ones right to protect themselves while on public lands such as National Parks, National Forests, State Parks, Wildlife Refuges and other often remote areas. While it is true that overall violent crimes and animal attacks in our park system are rare, it is also a fact that every year there are dozens of incidents where an armed citizen could have saved a life or prevented serious harm to themselves or others.


The partial list of crimes and attacks listed below are not intended to deter people from visiting parks by to provide facts about crimes and safety issues within our park system(s).


  • Mount Rainier National Park, Washington - 1978 a double rape and armed robbery occurred on Rampart Ridge
  • Appalachian Trail, Virginia - May 1981, Susan Ramsay and Robert Mountford Jr. were murdered while hiking along the AT. Liberal courts released murderer Randall Smith who was paroled after only 15 years for double murder. After his release Smith tried to kill to more people in the same area.
  • Virginia - 1986, along the Colonial Parkway near Williamsburg, the bodies of Cathleen Thomas and Rebecca Dowski were found in Thomas's car. They were in their 20s and athletic, their wrists were bound, their throats were slit, they had not been sexually assaulted, and there was no sign of a struggle.
  • Pennsylvania - May 12, 1988, Rebecca Wight was shot dead and her partner, Claudia Brenner, was seriously wounded on a hike on a part of the Appalachian Trail that runs through Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Pennsylvania.
  • Appalachian Trail, Pennsylvania - September 12, 1990 AT hikers Geoffrey Logan Hood, 26, of Signal Mountain, Tennessee was shot, and Molly LaRue, 25, of Shaker Heights, Ohio was stabbed and raped at their campsite in Pennsylvania.
  • Shenandoah National Park, Virginia - May 28, 1996, Julianne Williams, 24, and Lollie Winans, 26 were both bound and had their throats cut while hiking and camping near the Appalachian Trail.
  • Hovenweep National Monument, Utah - May 29, 1998, 3 armed men shot and killed one police officer and wounded two others before fleeing into the remote area around Four Corners. 500 law enforcement officials searched the area for weeks.
  • Appalachian Trail, Pennsylvania - June 3 1998 woman raped on the Appalachian Trail section in Michaux State Forest.
  • Waynesboro, Virginia - August 13, 1998, A female camper using a city park frequented by AT hikers was attacked in her tent while she slept. This park is a few miles from the AT and thru-hikers use nearby facilities at the YMCA.
  • Yosemite National Park, California - February 1999, Carole Sund and Silvina Pelosso were found in a burned out rental car near Long Barn a month after they had last been seen alive at Yosemite’s Cedar Lodge. The body of Sund’s daughter, Juli, was found 30 miles away a week later.
  • Yosemite National Park, California - July 1999, a 26-year-old park worker named Joie Ruth Armstrong was decapitated near her park cabin.
  • Honokohau National Park, Hawaii - Park Ranger Steve Makuakane-Jarrell Murdered
  • White Mountains, New Hampshire - November 15, 2001, Louise Chaput 52 was stabbed to death while hiking not far from the Appalachian Trail. This crime remains unsolved
  • Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, - August 9, 2002, Ranger Kris Eggle, Murdered
  • Yellowstone National Park, WY, MT - August 28, 2006 Man severly beaten, by the time rangers arrived, Ramirez (criminal) had left the area and his victim was in the hospital. Investigators determined that the victim had suffered serious and permanent head and facial injuries. (MR 5/16/07)
  • Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina - June 5, 2007, A man broke in a window, splashed gasoline inside a room, thrown in the gas container, then ignited the fuel. Four people were in the room at the time of the attack.
  • Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest - July 2006, Mary Cooper, 56 and her daughter, Susanna Stodden, 27, were both murdered along the Pinnacle Lake trail. Their murderer has never been captured.
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area, AZ - May 2007, an emotionally disturbed man who'd told people at the Lake Mead Trailer Village store that he'd been swimming through blood assaults rangers with knife and carpet cutter.
  • Buffalo National River, Arkansas - man severely beaten with bat just outside park
  • Nantahala National Forest & Pisgah National forest North Carolina - Irene and John Bryant were murdered, one bludgeoned the other shot after a hiking in the fall of 2007.
  • Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, Georgia - November 27, 2007 19 year old woman struck in the face and robbed as she walked along park road.
  • Apalachicola National Forest, Florida - Cheryl Hodges Dunlap. Dunlap's decapitated body was found Dec. 19 2007.
  • Vogel State Park, Chattahoochee National Forest, Georgia - 24 year old Meredith Emerson was kidnapped, beaten to death, and her decapitated body was found about a week after she was last seen hiking with her dog on January 1, 2008.
  • Appalachian Trail, Virginia - May 2008, convicted murderer Randall Smith who was  released by liberal court system after only 15 years pulled out a gun and shot Sean Farmer and Scott Johnston. The two men were fishing and camping along Dismal Creek near the Appalachian Trail. They fed Smith and his dog who then stood up thanked them for the meal and started shooting them, both mulitple times. Smith had previously been convicted of killing Susan Ramsay and Robert Mountford Jr. in May 1981 about 1.5 miles away, he was paroled after only 15 years.
  • Pike National Forest, Colorado - 2,000 pounds of marijuana seized. July 2009
  • Malibu Creek State Park, California - On July 21st 2009, rangers from Santa Monica Mountains and officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, California State Park Police, CAMP (Campaign Against Marijuana Planting), and Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority entered three marijuana plantation sites and eradicated the plants found within them. Two were located in Malibu Creek State Park and one in the Zuma-Trancas Canyon area on National Park Service land.  All three plantation sites were initially discovered by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which led the operation. A total of 3,509 plans were eradicated, including 1,421 plants in Zuma Canyon.




Hunting Related Links:
National Park Murders
Fatal Hunting Accidents
Appalachian Trail Murders
Fatal Treestand Accidents

Randall Smith, AT Double Murderer Paroled, Tries To Kill Again
Appalachian Trail Double Murder



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