James L. Jordan, 30, of West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, appeared in federal court Monday, where he was charged with murder and assault with intent to commit murder after a bloody attack early Saturday morning on the Appalachian Trail left one hiker dead and another hospitalized. A judge ordered Jordan be held in custody pending a psychiatric evaluation.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, the incident began when Jordan approached a group of four hikers (court filings do not indicate how the four were connected) somewhere in Jefferson National Forest in western Virginia on Friday evening.
In the court documents, the hikers said that Jordan was “acting disturbed and unstable, and was playing his guitar and singing.” Later that night, the four set up camp a few miles from where the first encounter occured, in Wythe County, Virginia. Jordan appeared and began threatening the hikers in their shelters, saying that he was going to “pour gasoline on their tents and burn them to death.” At that point, the four hikers decided to relocate their campsites. Jordan then confronted them with a knife. Two of the hikers, whose names have not been released, ran north on the trail to escape. They called 911 at 2:30 A.M., saying that they were being chased by a man with a knife.