Updated – January 10th, 2008 5:20am: According to this story at the AJC Hilton was seen at the Marble Hill Huddle House Thursday just before his picture was released to the public. He was also allowed to use the phone in the restaurant, although investigators won’t say who we called or what was discussed. He told the waitress that he had gotten his job back.

Investigators are assuming that Meredith Emerson was still alive and in the van at the time.

There is also a link to an audio interview at the AJC from Meredith’s boyfriend.

Lots of hikers have left comments and from several of the reports I have read it makes folks very nervous. Here are some handy tips for hikers:

* Trust your instincts. If a situation doesn’t feel right, move on.
* Don’t talk with strangers.
* Don’t camp or spend time near trail heads or road crossings.
* Inform friends and officials where you are going, and when you are expected back. Check in at visitor’s centers.
* Stay on the trail.
* Always carry maps and a compass, and know how to use them.
* Carry a whistle.
* Lie. If a stranger asks whether you’re alone, tell them your friends are just behind.
* Cell phones aren’t reliable in the woods.
* Hikers differ on the value of carrying a firearm, although backpackers rarely want to add that much weight to their luggage. “I wouldn’t carry something that heavy that you can’t eat,” said Appalachian Trail Conservancy board chair Bob Almand. (Note: It is illegal to carry firearms in Georgia’s state parks, according to spokesmen.)
Appalachian Trail Conservancy

According to the AJC she did everything right when she went out, but as one of my commenters pointed out, a young girls is no match for a grown man and she should not have gone out alone

Updated – 11:15 PM.

Unless something that’s REAL news in the case pops up in the next few days this will most likely be my last update until Hilton goes on trial.

The AJC has a new story up:

Meredith Emerson’s parents did not appear at a 3:30 p.m. news conference outside the Athens home of Peggy Bailey, Meredith Emerson’s godmother and family spokeswoman. Bailey read a four-paragraph statement and the news conference was over in about two minutes.
Emerson’s parents are believed to be grieving inside the home.

An Athens-Clarke County police car was stationed in front of the house.

Bailey said a memorial service would be held at 2 p.m. Friday at Central Presbyterian Church in Athens. Another service will be held sometime later in Longmont, Colo., just outside Denver.

Bailey said any contributions in memory of Emerson should be given to local animal rescue shelters.

Bailey said the family thanked the legion of law enforcement personnel and volunteers who looked for Emerson.

The family also expressed gratitude for media coverage of Emerson’s disappearance which helped the “world learn to know her and learn to love her.”

A typed note was posted on the garage door of the Bailey home addressed to the media. “The Emersons and Bailey families respectfully request that we not be disturbed. Do not knock or ring a door bell or remain on the property. You may leave a (business) card and a family spokesperson will contact you by phone at their earliest conveniences. Thanks for your continued sensitivity and compassion in this difficult time.”

I may do a bit of research and writing on the other killings that may be related. It just depends on how much free time I have this week. I normally let the pros handle this (like Steve Huff) but I have found this story interesting to write about.

Here’s what Steve had to say about Hilton over at the True Crime Weblog…

I can’t believe a first-time killer would remove a victim’s head after death. That seems like the work of a person who is quite comfortable with death. Few first time killers would hold an intelligent, alert, physically fit young woman captive for 3 days.

Updated – 6:08 PM. Just got home from picking up the girls and saw I had received some emails about the case.

The autopsy results have been released and Meredith Emerson died from blunt force trauma to the head and then she was decapitated. Charges against the suspect were upgraded to murder which makes Gary Michael Hilton eligible for the death penalty according to prosecutors. He will be charged with one count of malice murder in addition to the original charges and is set to appear in court tomorrow in Dawson County.

According to WSB TV it appears that Emerson was not killed until Friday, meaning that she was captured and held alive for three days.

The ME has informed Emerson’s family about the details of her death.

Updated – 12:10PM – Just some more video, nothing really new in the case yet.


Updated – Tuesday January 8th 8:33 AM.
An autopsy is scheduled for today on Meredith Emerson, hopefully more information will be forthcoming on the University of Georgia alumna.

According to John Cagel of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation when asked is Hilton had taken investigators to the location of her remains or merely described it, Cagle replied “Both”.

Peggy Bailey, Emerson’s godmother and the lady who has been the spokeswoman for the family throughout this tragedy said that “We are glad she’s found. This brings some sort of closure for us”.

I don’t know about closure, that will most likely come later but at least it doesn’t leave them hanging in the wind not ever knowing exactly what happened to Meredith.

Georgia law enforcement authorities are now planning on meeting with officials from Florida to share details about a similar killing there, which leaves several of us, including Legal Pub wondering if Gary Michael Hilton is a serial killer.

——————————————————————————————————–

GBI Agents have found the body of Meredith Emerson. I have been at work for the last four hours or I would have posted something sooner. According to the reports I have read, Gary Michael Hilton told police where to find Emerson’s body. WSB TV is reporting that they took Hilton to Dawson Forest and he helped find Emerson. Searchers apparently had already been in Dawson Forest earlier today since witnesses reported seeing Hilton’s van there last week.

According to John Cagle of the GBI a GBI agent and other authorities found the body this evening about 7:15 PM in the 25,000 acre Dawson Forest wildlife management area, about 30 miles south of Union County.

The GBI would not comment on whether Hilton would face murder charges, although that’s pretty much a no-brainer as far as I am concerned. They are also not speculating yet on how Meredith Emerson died and an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday morning.

The disclosure from the GBI came after that scheduled a major announcement tonight in the case in Dawson County, which is south of where Hilton appeared in court earlier today.

Family Spokesperson Peggy Bailey confirmed that the body had been found. “We did find out just now, not that it was unexpected”.

If I recall, the Dawson Forest area is just west of the Dahlonega Highway and just north of Forsyth County, which is where some of the searchers had been looking for Emerson.

The GBI and other police officials have the site blocked and are going to return Tuesday to where the body was found for further investigation.

 

There is a guestbook online for anyone wanting to leave condolences to the family. You can find it here.

 

Now that her body has been found Forsyth County officials are investigating the possibility that the disappearance and murder of Patrice Endres, a hairdresser who disappeared from her beauty salon north of Cumming in April of 2004 may be related to Hilton.

“We’re not leaving any stone unturned” said Captain Frank Huggins of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department.

More news as I get it.

 

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