Six years ago, journalist Kathryn Miles was assigned to do a story for Outside magazine that she thought would be fairly straight-forward, about the unsolved murder of two women killed while hiking in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park in 1996.
The hook for the story was that the FBI had just put out a call for more information. It was looking for leads that would help solve the murders of Laura “Lollie” Winans, 26, a student at Maine’s Unity College, and her girlfriend, Julianne Williams, 24. They had been bound and gagged and their throats were slashed.
Authorities had arrested a suspect, Darrell Rice, and in 2002 Attorney General John Ashcroft made news by announcing that he would seek the death penalty for Rice under new post-9/11 federal hate crime legislation. But two years later, the government suspended its case and it had seemed to go cold.
Miles, who lives in the Belfast area, thought she’d write about 2,500 words on the case with the latest updates and that would be the end of her time on the story. Instead, she found a tale that she connected with deeply and could not let go. She spent more than four years poring over case files and evidence, talking to lawyers, family, friends and anyone she could find to shed light on the mystery.
The result is Miles’ latest book, “Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders” (Algonquin). It goes on sale May 3. Print: A Bookstore in Portland is planning to host a book talk with Miles, but details are still being worked out.
“It was a story that from the start had shaken me. I was about the same age as them, and I think our stories coalesced,” said Miles, 47.
Miles grew up in Peoria, Illinois, where both her godparents worked for the local newspaper, the Journal Star. By the time she was a junior in high school, she was working as a part-time reporter at the Journal Star, after striking a …….