| By KERI SCHWAB|
Daily Progress staff writer
WASHINGTON Almost six years after the bodies of two female hikers
were discovered in Shenandoah National Park, a federal grand jury has indicted
a man prosecutors say slashed their throats because of a hatred of women
Darrell David Rice was indicted Tuesday by a Charlottesville grand jury
in the 1996 killings of Julianne Marie Williams and Laura Lollie
S. Winans, who had been hiking near Skyland Lodge, off the Appalachian
The volatile, poisonous mixture of hatred and violence will not go
unchallenged in the American system of justice, said U.S. Attorney
General John Ashcroft, after announcing the indictment at a news conference
at the Department of Justice on Wednesday.
The grand jury indicted Rice on four counts of capital murder, including
two that allege he was motivated by the victims perceived gender
or sexual orientation.
If convicted, Rice could be put to death, Ashcroft said.
Williams, 24, of Burlington, Vt., and Winans, 26, of Unity, Maine, were
avid hikers and backpackers. They were reported missing in late May of
1996 after they did not return from a five-day backpacking trip.
She loved the outdoors, said Winans father, John Winans,
who attended the news conference. Thats the one place she would
The womens bodies were found by park rangers at a creek-side campsite
on June 1, 1996, bound and gagged, and with their throats cut,
Rice has stated that Winans and Williams deserved to die because
they were lesbian whores, according to court papers.
The report of the womens brutal slaying sent chills through Appalachian
Trail hikers and nearby residents, and some 15,000 leads and contacts were
reported to authorities.
Prosecutors would not say what led them to Rice, 34, of Maryland. He has
been in federal prison in Petersburg since 1998, after being convicted
of attempting to abduct a female biker and run her over with his car in
Shenandoah National Park.
The victim in that incident, Yvonne Malbasha, testified at Rices
sentencing that he had angrily screamed sexual references at her
while trying to abduct her, Ashcroft said.
Rice later pleaded guilty to attempted abduction, and was sentenced to
11 years in prison.
In the park slaying case, prosecutors plan to present evidence that the
killings were part of an ongoing plan, scheme or modus operandi to
assault, intimidate, injure and kill women because of their gender,
according to court documents.
Federal authorities have jurisdiction in the case because the slayings
were committed on U.S. government land.
The case is slated to be tried in Charlottesville and is believed to be
the first prosecuted under hate-crime enhancements to federal sentencing
The enhancements are key to our ability to request the death penalty,
After the attorney generals news conference, a tearful John Winans
said that he hopes prosecutors seek the death penalty.
I feel strongly, he said, that this man could be
incapable of remorse.