Appalachian Trail Histories



This newspaper article from the Harrisonburg Daily News-Record gives information that was known just days after the discovery of the Julianne Williams and Laura Winans' bodies in Shenandoah National Park. This article specifies location, how they were murdered, and discusses other hikers' feelings of safety or lack there of on the trail after the murders.




Harrisonburg Daily News-Record


1996 Shenandoah National Park Murder Victims Julianne Williams and Laura Winans on the Appalachian Trail


Rachel Stierle


None recorded.


Barr Derek. "Talk of The Trail." Harrisonburg Daily News-Record. June 10, 1996. Accessed November 8, 2016.


Harrisonburg Daily News-Record


Harrisonburg Daily News-Record, “"Talk of the Trail",” Appalachian Trail Histories, accessed May 29, 2024,

"Talk of The Trail"
By DEREK BARR News-Record Staff Writer
Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) - June 10, 1996.

Hikers Step Up Their Guard In Aftermath Of Slayings

By DEREK BARR News-Record Staff Writer SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK -- The slaying of two female hikers in Shenandoah National Park isn't keeping people from the park, but it was definitely the main topic of conversation among visitors Wednesday.

"We're normally a little paranoid, now we'll be very paranoid," said Dan Braun of New York City, who was traveling through the park with his wife Mary and their young son.

Authorities Wednesday weren't releasing much new information on the deaths of Julianne Williams, 24, of St. Cloud, Minn., and Lollie Winans, 26, of Unity, Maine. The women were found Saturday with their throats slashed at their campsite off Skyline Drive near milepost 42, close to Skyland Lodge.

Terry Lewis of the Bureau of Land Management, serving as information officer for the incident, said officials still weren't releasing any details such as the time of death, whether the women were robbed and whether the condition of the site indicated a struggle. Medical tests are still being conducted, he said.

"It's a wide-open investigation," said Lewis.

The area near the women's campsite was still cordoned off Wednesday, and a ranger was posted nearby to discourage any curious onlookers. The woods were being combed by agents of the FBI and National Park Service, but none would comment on the case.

Lewis said flyers bearing the women's pictures were being prepared and will be handed out to park visitors in the hope that someone who may have seen them will provide new information. Williams and Winans were last seen May 24; their camping permit, obtained May 22, indicated they were to leave the park May 27.

Anyone with information on the women is urged to call toll-free 1- 888-856-2467. The Park Service had initially given an incorrect number, Lewis said.

The women were traveling with a golden retrieverLabrador mix named Taj, who was found unharmed in the area and is being cared for by the Park Service, he said.

The Brauns were camping Sunday night between Luray and Front Royal. After hearing of the killings, they had decided to refrain from camping, but they were haggling over that decision Wednesday.

"If we do camp, it will be where there's a lot of people," Mary Braun said.

Although officials have said there is nothing to indicate the slayings are anything other than an "isolated incident," Lewis said no conclusions should be drawn either way. The park hasn't been closed, but officials are concerned about hikers, he said. Authorities have not said whether they have any suspects or whether they believe the apparent killer -- or killers -- remains in the park.

Extra security has been brought in to inform visitors, and notices were posted throughout the park citing safety tips for back-country users.

Lewis said he expects some back-country users are worried, and he hopes that will make them cautious.

"I'm sure there is (concern among hikers). I hope there is," he said.

Shenandoah National Park officials have been in contact with other national parks for information on any similar incidents, said Lewis, but he added that no links had been found.

Hilary Bralove and Ina Szwec, both of West Palm Beach, Fla., had planned to ride bicycles and hike through Shenandoah National Park, but news of the slayings effectively canceled those plans.

"We'd feel much better about hiking if this hadn't happened," Bralove said Wednesday.

"I keep hearing that music from `Deliverance,' " Szwec added.

Bralove said that she let Szwec get ahead of her on a trail, then she used a deep voice and yelled "Hey!" With that, Szwec jumped into the air, Bralove said.

Al and Char Appel are from Minneapolis, in Williams' home state. They just got to the park Wednesday and spotted a bear. They said they're not concerned about the slayings, but added that they're not camping in the park.

"We're not worried," Appel said.

"I got more scared when we saw the bear," his wife said.

Park officials recommend that back-country users hike in groups of two or more; tell family and friends of your itinerary and timetable; be cautious of strangers, especially inquisitive ones, and tell no one of your route or planned camping location; and do not set up campsites near roads or developed areas.