Friday, May 09, 2008

Appalachian Trail Reopened
The Appalachian Trail has reopened after the investigation of Wensday's shootings.

PEARISBURG -- The Appalachian Trail reopened in Giles County on Thursday, two days after a pair of fishermen were shot and wounded in a crime that hauntingly resembled two gruesome killings committed near the same spot in 1981.

Officials removed the yellow crime scene tape that had cordoned off a 28-mile stretch of the trail while investigators searched for clues and other potential victims Wednesday, and hikers again began trekking through.

Perhaps, though, they had more to talk about than in any year since 1981, when Giles County native Randall Lee Smith Jr. killed two trail hikers at Wapiti Shelter, just a few miles up the road from where two fishermen had set up camp when police say Smith shot them Tuesday night.

"Man, I'm out here having the time of my life," said Nathan Adcock, a 31-year-old nurse from Asheville, N.C. "And then somebody's out there shooting."

Adcock -- trail name "Superchunk" -- and other friends he met along the trail spent the night Tuesday at Jenny's Knob shelter not far from the campsite where Smith is suspected of shooting Sean Farmer, 33, of Tazewell and Scott Johnston, 37, of Bluefield.

The pair were at their camp on Lions Den Road when a man Giles County investigators believe was Smith walked up and struck up a conversation. He hung around for about three hours, staying to have a dinner of fresh trout and baked beans with the men.

After they ate, the man reportedly jumped up and pulled out a gun. Farmer was shot in the face and chest. Johnston was shot in the neck and back.

Farmer has been released from the hospital and Johnston is in serious but stable condition.

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