Authorities seek person of interest in hiker case

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BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. --- Authorities said Thursday that they were seeking a person of interest in the disappearance of a 24-year-old hiker missing since Tuesday.

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In this May 2007 photo, Ms. Emerson is seen with her dog, Ella, in Flowery Branch, Ga. Authorities have announced that they have a person of interest in her disappearance. Witnesses told authorities they saw a man with Ms. Emerson several times at the park on New Year's Day. They believe the man is Gary Michael Hilton of DeKalb County, and he might drive a van.  Associated Press
Associated Press
In this May 2007 photo, Ms. Emerson is seen with her dog, Ella, in Flowery Branch, Ga. Authorities have announced that they have a person of interest in her disappearance. Witnesses told authorities they saw a man with Ms. Emerson several times at the park on New Year's Day. They believe the man is Gary Michael Hilton of DeKalb County, and he might drive a van.

Police said the man, described as 60 years old and weighing 160 pounds, was seen several times on New Year's Day with Meredith Emerson, 24, a Colorado native now living in Buford, Ga.

Union County investigator Kimberly Verdone said witnesses said the man had a yellow backpack with enough gear for days. She said they described the man as "weathered and no teeth."

Officials said Thursday that they believe the man was Gary Michael Hilton of DeKalb County. They said it was possible he was driving a 2000-01 white Chevy Astro van.

Friends said Ms. Emerson went hiking with her black Labrador retriever on Tuesday.

Her 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier was found abandoned Wednesday at the base of Blood Mountain.

Police confirmed that a water bottle and dog collar found near a hiking trail belonged to her.

At the request of the Union County Sheriff's Department, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation sent four agents to join in the search Thursday morning, GBI spokesman John Bankhead said. The Georgia State Patrol pitched in with a helicopter.

"She's an experienced hiker and a blue belt in martial arts," said Julia Karrenbauer, Ms. Emerson's roommate. "She's athletic and has a good head on her shoulders. So we're just hoping for the best."

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WAG
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WAG 01/04/08 - 09:29 am
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This is so sad. I hope they

This is so sad. I hope they find her alive. It is a shame that you can not even go walking anymore.

WAG
287
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WAG 01/04/08 - 09:30 am
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This is so sad. I hope they

This is so sad. I hope they find her alive. It is a shame that you can not even go walking anymore.

TINKERBELLE0330
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TINKERBELLE0330 01/04/08 - 10:11 am
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Im praying for her & her

Im praying for her & her family. This is VERY sad!

MyOpinion2
5
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MyOpinion2 01/04/08 - 10:55 am
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Today you need to walk with a

Today you need to walk with a friend or have protection like a gun. Don't walk alone. It is sad.

1trugent
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1trugent 01/04/08 - 03:42 pm
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I use to hike a good bit in

I use to hike a good bit in the mountains and I always carried a gun with me. Friends would ask if was scared of the wild animals and I said, "Yeah...the two-legged ones" Man is the wildest and most dangerous animal of all.

1trugent
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1trugent 01/04/08 - 03:44 pm
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Anyway, I pray they find this

Anyway, I pray they find this missing hiker ALIVE!

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