June 7 Article from Washington Blade

This article was posted to the AT mailing list on June 10.

Date: Mon, 10 Jun 1996 16:37:20 -0500 (CDT)
Sender: at-l@patsy.hack.net
From: Marshall DeBerry (mdb@access.digex.net)

This long article (~208 lines), with a sidebar item, appeared in the 
Washington DC newspaper "The Washington Blade", a newsweekly for the 
Gay and Lesbian community of the DC area.  It is dated June 7, 1996, 
vol 27, no. 24, and appeared on the front page.  I would just like
to echo  Kathy's comments, in that as time goes by, and no new
information is forthcoming, it will become increasingly difficult
to solve this case.  I appologize for the length, but perhaps there
might be some useful information that might jog someone's thoughts
regarding possible clues in this hiking community murder.  As noted
before, the toll free number to call if anyone has any informaton
is 888-856-2467.

                          Marshall
                          "Tarkus"
------------------------------------
                 

Lesbian hikers found slain in national park
  Couple planned to live together

   by Sue Fox
      Wendy Johnson and Kristina Campbell contributed to this report.

The two female hikers slain in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park
were Lesbians who were romantically involved, according to sources
who knew Julianne Williams, 24, of Burlington, VT., and Lollie Winans,
26, of Unity, Maine.

Investigators of the double murder would not say whether they are 
pursuing any Gay-related motives or angles in the unsolved case,
said Shenandoah National Park spokesperson Paul Pfenninger.

Park rangers found the bodies of Williams and Winans at a 
backcountry campsite near the Appalachian Trail at approximately
8:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 1, the day after William's father
reported the women missing.  The bodies of the hikers, who had
planned a five-day hike through the park, were found near Skyland Lodge,
along Skyline Drive near Luray, Va.  According to the medical examiner,
the cause of death for both women was "an incised wound to the neck."

People who worked at a Burlington bookstore with Williams, a 1994 
graduate of Carleton Colege in Minnesota, knew she was a Lesbian,
but few others did, according to a coworker and friend of Williams
who spoke to the Blade on the condition of anonymity.

"A lot of people here don't know about that part of her," said the 
coworker.  "...Yeah, people at work knew."

The coworker also said that Williams and Winans were "having a
relationship."

Rebecca Strader, the Presbyterian minister of a "More Light" 
congregation, known for its welcoming attitude toward Lesbians and
Gay men, said that Williams attended services at her church  on the
campus of the Universty of Vermont.

"I did know, yes" that Williams was a Lesbian, Strader said, adding
that she felt ambivalent about what to say.  "She wasn't out to
everyone.  ...She was not out to her parents, but I'm sure they know
now."

Strader said she, too, knew that Williams and Winans "had a
relationship."  

"I assumed that they defined themselves that way--they were getting
ready to move in together," said Strader.

Members of a Gay organization in Vermont said that Williams was also
a member.

A friend of Winans in Maine, who spoke to the Blade on the condition
of anonymity, confirmed Winans and Williams were lovers.

"They were really important to each other and wanted to deepen what
they had," the friend added.  "...I'm getting really frustrated that
[their Lesbian relationship] is not coming out [in the mainstream
press].  But there's been concern about outing them.  People have been
hoping it would go through word of mouth in the Gay community."

Williams and Winans had planned to move in together this summer in
Huntington, Vt., according to the Burlington Free Press, a daily 
newspaper in Vermont.

The investigation into the murders is being jointly conducted by the
Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Virginia State Police, and
criminal investigators from the National Park Service.  Many local
law enforcement officials are also providing support, according to
park spokesperson Pfenninger.

Pfenninger, who is acting as the public information officer on this
incident, told the Blade that he asked investigators whether they
were examining any Gay-related angles but was told they would not
comment on whether the murders could have been bias-motivated.

"I asked [investigators] the question and they said they just can't
talk about the investigation," Pfenninger said.  "I explained why I 
needed to know, that the Gay and Lesbian community was concerned.
..One [investigator] I did talk to directly said we didn't have
any evidence of that sort ... that they were Lesbians."

Park officials said Tuesday that the slayings were "an isolated
incident."  According to the Washington Post, Pfenninger said that 
"something [investigators] found at the site led them to believe it
was an isolated incident," but he would not say what this evidence was.

Pfenninger later said that park officials "do not know" if the murder 
or murderers will strike again, according to the Post, and by Wednesday,
park officials were passing out fliers about the murder and warning
campers to be careful.  Pfenninger said he used the phrase "isolated
incident" to mean investigators have no similar crimes at national
parks to link the murders to.

"I think the term 'isolated' is what everyone's getting hung up on,"
he told the Blade Thursday.  "This particular case does not resemble
any of the evidence [from] any other cases in the country.  I think
it was just a bad choice of words."

John Donahue, spokesperson for the FBI's Richmond office, did not
return a reporter's numerous telephone calls.

The Burlington Free Press reported Thursday that Donahue discounted
a theory that the women might have been targeted because the killer
believed they were Lesbians.

"There has been no indication that this is a hate crime of any 
particular type," Donahue said, according to the Free Press.

Tracy Conaty, a field organizer the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
who is an expert on anti-Gay violence issues, said she had spoken with
Donahue.  According to Conaty, Donahue "said that they are looking at all
the aspects.  He did not understand why there was such a response from 
the Gay and Lesbian community [about the murders].  He said he's gotten
over 200 phone calls since the murders."

According to friends and coworkers, both Williams and Winans were very
active in the outdoors and shared an interest in women's issues.  They
met in the summer of 1995 while working at the Minneapolis-based organization
Woodswomen Inc., a group that provides outdoor education for women, 
according to its executive director Denise Mitten.

Winans's dream, according to Mitten, was to create an outdoor program to
provide "healing experiences" for women who had been abused.  Winans
was studying outdoor recreation at Unity College in Maine, where she 
had organized a wilderness canoe trip for women, according to college
spokesperson Heidi Brugger.

Williams was also an accomplished outdoor leader who left "a lasting 
legacy" at the geology department of Carleton College in Northfield,
Minn., said a faculty member.  A geology major who graduated in 1994,
Williams conducted groundbreaking research on the "classroom climate"
for women studying geology.

"She did a paper on our department [asking] whether it was as successful
at attracting women scientists as it could be," according to geology
professor Mary Savina.

The Shenandoah slayings reminded many Gay activists of another attack
on a Lesbian couple eight years ago.  In May 1988, a 28-year-old Lesbian
was fatally shot while camping with her lover near the Appalachian
Trail in Pennsylvania.  The victim, Rebecca Wight of Blacksburg, Va.,
was camping with her lover Claudia Brenner, 31, when the two were 
ambushed by Stephen Roy Carr, 28, who reportedly lived in an electricity-
equipped cave nearby.

According to testimony provided by Brenner at a preliminary hearing, Carr
surprised the two women after dark, shooting them while they were 
engaged in sex.  Brenner, who was seriously wounded in the shooting, 
also testified that the women believed they were alone in the woods
but that they had seen Carr at their campsite earlier that day and 
deliberately relocated in an effort to seek privacy.

Carr was later convicted of first-degree murder in the Adams County
Court of Common Pleas in Gettysburg, Pa.  He was sentenced the 
following year to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"I feel like [Julianne Willliams] was just getting her life together,"
said Stradler, whose church will hold a memorial for Williams on Sunday.
"I'm reluctant to violate her reticence [to be openly Lesbian] and I
want to be honest about who she was.  It's important to celebrate who
she was."


------------------------------------------------
Since 1986, five couples slain in national parks
   by Lisa Keen

A Shenandoah National Park spokesperson said this week the
murder of two women near Skyline Drive last week was an 
"isolated incident."  He said something found at the site of
the murders led investigators to this conclusion, though he
refused to say what was found.

But there is reason to believe the murders may not be "isolated."

At least four other couples have been murdered on park land in
Virginia since 1986.  Three of those four were at or very near
know Gay cruising areas.  On of those four involved a female
couple who, like the Skyline pair, were found with their 
throats slit.

In October 1986, the bodies of two athletic women, also in their
20's, were found with their throats slit on federal property known
as the Colonial Parkway near Williamsburg, Va.  The ara was popular
with couples as a "lovers' lane" site and was also situated very
near a place known to be popular with Gay couples.  There were no
signs that the women had struggled against their killer or killers
and no sign of drug or alcohol use.  Their bodies were fully
clothed and there were no signs of sexual assault.  Police ruled out
robbery as a motive because their money was still with them.  Their
bodies were found in the back of a car belonging to one of the women;
the car had been pushed down an embankment and into some thick 
shrubbery.  Police found evidence that someone had attempted to 
ignite the vehicle.

Three other couples, all heterosexual, were found murdered in 
somewhat similar circumstances in the eastern Virgina area in
1987, 1988, and 1989.  In 1987, a couple was found on Ragged
Island, a place known for Gay cruising near the James River
in the Newport News area.  In 1988, another couple's bodies were
never found but their car was discovered at a pull-off along the
same Colonial Parkway and about two to three miles from where the
female couple's bodies were found.  And in 1989, a couple's car
was found at a reststop on Interstate 64 between Richmond and 
Williamsburg and their bodies were found buried nearby.  The
reststop had been the site of a brutal murder of a male nurse
in 1986 by a group of Navy sailors.

The FBI investigated the murders but never indentified suspects.

-----End of Article(s)-------------


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