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May 5, 2022

Trailed: One Woman's Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders by Kathryn Miles ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

"I have also come to believe that telling other people's stories is one of the most important ways to build empathy and connection in a world that can often feel diverse and factioned. ..If I can write those stories in a way that makes readers care, then I feel like I have done a job worth doing." (95)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of true crime Trailed by Kathryn Miles
May 2022; Algonquin Books; 978-1616209094
audio, ebook, print (320 pages); true crime

I vaguely remember the killing of two young women on the Appalachian Trail in 1996.  Julie Williams and Lollie Winans were brutally murdered while backpacking in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.  It got a lot of news headlines at the beginning of the investigation but it disappeared from the headlines when it wasn't quickly solved and became a cold case.  Kathryn Miles went on a quest to learn more about the murders and to try to solve the case.  Along the way, she found some shoddy work done by the FBI and local police that ended up accusing the wrong person of the crime.  He was arrested but they never had formal charges and they let him out of prison.  He was only considered a person of interest.

Both women were skilled backpackers who had met - and fallen in love at an outdoor program for women.  As the FBI case followed leads, the case became a cold case.  In 2002, the federal government decided to prosecute this case as a hate crime due to the women's sexuality.  They decide to try Darrell David Rice and planned to use the death penalty for this crime.  Two years later, the case was suspended due to lack of information that supported Rice as the killer.

The author got deeply involved in the case and talked to the FBI and the local authorities and followed up on many of their leads and met with the two women's family and friends. The further she got into the case, the more aware she became of cover-ups, incompetence, and crime-scene sloppiness.  The information she gathered did not point to Rice as the murderer and she named the person that her research pointed to.

I don't read a lot of non-fiction because it's usually boring to me.  This book was not boring.  In fact, it was difficult to put down.  It read more like a CSI program than an accumulation of data and the author did a fantastic job of letting us see Julie and Lollie and what their lives could have been had they not been murdered.

Buy Trailed at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

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