Parents grateful that alleged killer charged

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Six years and 15,000 tips after the murder of two women near the Appalachian Trail sent a chill through hikers everywhere, federal prosecutors say they have the killer and will prosecute the case as a hate crime.

Darrell David Rice, 34, of Columbia, Md., was indicted for the 1996 slayings of Julianne Williams and Laura "Lollie" Winans, the Justice Department announced Wednesday. Already jailed on an unrelated kidnapping charge, Rice told authorities the women "deserved to die because they were lesbian (expletives)," according to prosecution documents filed in court.

The bodies of Williams, 24, of St. Cloud, Minn., and Winans, 26, of Unity, Maine, were found bound and gagged June 1, 1996, at a creek-side campsite in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park, about a half-mile off the Appalachian Trail. Their throats had been cut.

Williams' parents, Tom and Patsy Williams of St. Cloud, said, "We are grateful that a suspect has been apprehended and indicted, but our focus has been and will continue to be on the life of our daughter."


Williams was a graduate of Cathedral High School in St. Cloud and Carleton College in Northfield.

"The tragedy of Julie's death has been extremely difficult for our family, friends and so many others we have come to know," her parents said. "Julie had such a presence in our family. The pain of her not being here, in person, is very great and very constant."

Winans, a Michigan native who was majoring in outdoor recreation leadership at Maine's Unity College, and Williams, who had a degree in geology, were experienced hikers. They had met while studying to become trip leaders at Woodswomen Inc. in Minneapolis in 1995, and had been living in Burlington, Vt.

Attorney General John Ashcroft met with the women's families Wednesday.

"These families have suffered what Americans now know all too well -- that's the pain and destruction wrought by hate," Ashcroft said at a news conference.

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