Home News “Sovereign” arrested for murder after attacking a pair of Appalachian trail hikers...

“Sovereign” arrested for murder after attacking a pair of Appalachian trail hikers with a machete

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Scott J. Croteau
MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass.

James L. Jordan, the Massachusetts man accused of killing one person and severely injuring a second person on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, was known to threaten hikers, according to a recently unsealed affidavit in federal court.

Jordan, of West Yarmouth, is facing charges of murder and assault with intent to commit murder in a Virginia federal court today.

FBI Agent Micah Childers said on Friday, Jordan approached four hikers in Smyth County, Virginia on the Appalachian Trail located within the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest.

“Jordan was known by the hikers as a suspicious person through social media as a result of an incident in April 2019 in Unicoi County, Tennessee, in which Jordan had allegedly threatened hikers on the Appalachian Trail,” the FBI agent wrote.

Authorities say when the 30-year-old approached the four hikers, he acted “disturbed and unstable” and was “playing his guitar and singing.”

Later that same evening, two of the hikers set up camp in the Wythe County, Virginia section of the trail.

“Jordan began randomly approaching the hikers’ tents, making noises and threatening the hikers,” Childers said. “Jordan spoke to the hikers through their tents and threatened to pour gasoline on their tents and burn them to death.”

The four hikers decided they were going to leave the campsite. They were afraid of Jordan, authorities said in the federal affidavit.

Jordan approached the hikers with a knife as they tried to leave, Childers said. Two hikers began to run but Jordan chased them.

Authorities said Jordan then returned to the campsite and began to argue with a man and a woman. Jordan began stabbing the man in the upper part of his body, the federal affidavit said.

The woman saw the man fall to the ground. She began to run.

Childers said Jordan chased the woman and caught up to her as she got tired.

“She turned to face Jordan and raised her arms as if to surrender when Jordan began stabbing her and she received multiple stab wounds,” Childers wrote.

The woman played dead. Jordan left to find his dog.

Authorities say the woman ran down the trail toward Smyth County. Two hikers saw her and helped the woman hike another six miles into Smyth County, where they called 911.

It was around 2:30 a.m. on Saturday when dispatchers in Wythe County receive a 911 call. Two of the hikers chased by Jordan as he wielded a machete reported the incident to dispatchers, authorities said.

Around 3:12 a.m., the Smyth County 911 center received a call from the woman who investigators said was stabbed by Jordan.

The woman was taken to an area hospital.

A Wythe County Sheriff’s Office tactical team converged on the campsite where the attack took place around 6:14 a.m. Jordan was taken into custody.

Authorities said Jordan had blood on his clothing.

The male victim was found dead. A knife was found near his body. WSLS reported authorities used the male victim’s GPS to find him after he sent out an emergency notification on his cell phone.

Investigators spoke with the female victim. She identified Jordan as the attacker, Childers said.

Police also spoke to the other two hikers. They also identified Jordan as the man who chased them with a knife. Those two hikers had a cell phone picture of Jordan from his prior incident in Tennessee, authorities said.

WJHL reports Jordan was given probation and ordered to pay fines after he threatened hikers on the trail with an ax a month earlier.

He pleaded guilty to criminal impersonation, drug possession and public intoxication in a Tennessee court, the television station reported.

According to authorities, Jordan went by the name “Sovereign” while on the trail.

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