Autopsy shows blow to head killed woman

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. --- A drifter who led police to the body of a missing hiker was charged with murder Tuesday after agreeing to assist investigators in exchange for an agreement that they not seek the death penalty against him for her killing, authorities said.

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Randy Harkenss, a Dawson County sheriff's deputy, points investigators down a dirt road going into Dawson Forest in Dawsonville, Ga., where the body of Meredith Emerson was found Monday.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Randy Harkenss, a Dawson County sheriff's deputy, points investigators down a dirt road going into Dawson Forest in Dawsonville, Ga., where the body of Meredith Emerson was found Monday.

The additional charges were announced against Gary Hilton by Lee Darragh, the district attorney in Dawson County, where Meredith Emerson's body was found Monday night. Mr. Darragh said the 24-year-old died Friday from a blow to the head, three days after she disappeared during a New Year's Day hike in the north Georgia mountains.

Mr. Hilton, 61, was charged Saturday with kidnapping with intent of bodily injury. He is being held in the Dawson County jail on the additional charges.

The agreement with Mr. Hilton covers only the prosecution for the Emerson case. Other jurisdictions in Georgia and other states would be free to seek the death penalty for other killings if they find connections, Union County District Attorney Stan Gunter told The Associated Press.

U.S. Attorney David Nahmias, who was interested in prosecuting the case as a federal death penalty case because the kidnapping is believed to have occurred on U.S. Forest Service land, agreed to the deal if Mr. Hilton cooperated, Mr. Gunter said.

"He agreed that finding the body of Ms. Emerson was very important, and he agreed if that was the resolution, then that would be a just resolution," Mr. Gunter said. Mr. Gunter said authorities had little hope of finding Ms. Emerson's remains without Mr. Hilton's help.

Asked whether the family was alerted to the arrangement with Mr. Hilton before it was made, family spokeswoman Peggy Bailey said, "We're just not discussing anything about that at all."

Other jurisdictions, including officials in North Carolina and Florida, have expressed interest in trying to determine whether the Emerson case is connected to killings there.

Mr. Hilton appeared Monday before a judge who denied his request for bail.

Hours later, he led investigators to a spot in a wooded area in north Georgia where they found Ms. Emerson's body, said John Cagle, the special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Field Division in Cleveland, Ga.

An autopsy showed Tuesday that Ms. Emerson died of a blow to the head.

Kris Sperry, the state's chief medical examiner, found that after Ms. Emerson received the lethal injuries, she was decapitated, Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead said. He declined to discuss any other details of the autopsy.

Authorities have said Mr. Hilton could face more charges.

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tomd
0
Points
tomd 01/09/08 - 05:25 am
0
0
I think they should release

I think they should release him on bail, hang a big sign around his neck and make public his every move.

Msmamm
13
Points
Msmamm 01/09/08 - 06:10 am
0
0
I think an animal such as

I think an animal such as this one should be euthanized. I can't imagine the horror that young woman went through at the hands of this ogre. May her soul rest in peace, and her family find the strength they need to cope. Whatever deal the US Attorney made should be revoked, he doesn't deserve any special consideration.

seaworrel
0
Points
seaworrel 01/09/08 - 06:26 am
0
0
Does anyone know what became

Does anyone know what became of her black lab pup? Perhaps the family would like her returned since it looked like the young woman was attached to her.

seaworrel
0
Points
seaworrel 01/09/08 - 06:29 am
0
0
I read in another story they

I read in another story they found the pup in a Kroger parking lot. Thanks .

CKB
0
Points
CKB 01/09/08 - 06:34 am
0
0
Msmamm, I totally agree with

Msmamm, I totally agree with you. They should revoke his bargaining powers- just as he revoked all of his victim's powers. What "right" does an animal like this have to bargain with authorities? Let's just hope that North Carolina and Florida goes for te death penalty. I resent having to pay for someone like this for the rest of his life. Is this what we consider justice in GA? Not even close. I hope with all my heart Miss Emerson's family will find strength to cope during this tragic time. My prayers are with them. As far as Gary Hilton, I hope he gets exactly what he deserves, and this will surely take place on his judgement day!

tdp
0
Points
tdp 01/09/08 - 07:07 am
0
0
CKB....If they revoked their

CKB....If they revoked their offer, that may prevent other murderers from disclosing their victims' location in the future. While I agree this monster deserves to die a slow, agonizing, painful death, her family deserves to have her body back. My guess is the family agreed to it just to get her back. I would have. Hopefully, he will get what he deserves in jail. And for God's sake people, carry a gun with you when going someplace like that.

CKB
0
Points
CKB 01/09/08 - 07:34 am
0
0
tdp, thank you- you are

tdp, thank you- you are exactly correct. The family does deserve her back- especially for their "closure". I would have done the same thing. Sorry, guess I got caught up in the moment and would just like to see justice done. I do not believe criminals have "rights" after doing these crimes, and bargaining is just not in the picture for me. Thanks again.

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 01/09/08 - 07:37 am
0
0
The dog is with the family.

The dog is with the family.

pofwe
5
Points
pofwe 01/09/08 - 07:38 am
0
0
Put him in a cell with his

Put him in a cell with his peers. Let them know all about him. Don't check on him for a long time.

christian134
1
Points
christian134 01/09/08 - 07:39 am
0
0
Take him out. Let him make

Take him out. Let him make his peace with God then hang him publicly.

hriley
0
Points
hriley 01/09/08 - 07:56 am
0
0
I do not feel that your

I do not feel that your reporting of the medical examiner's disclosure of decapiation was not a necessary detail for the public or her family to have to endure publically. Please show some compassion when reporting on victims of crime. As a mother of a 23 year old duaghter, I can only imagaine the horror of her family's ordeal. This type of sensationalism only serves to add to such pain.

TEDDY1
0
Points
TEDDY1 01/09/08 - 07:59 am
0
0
he needs his skin peeled from

he needs his skin peeled from his body one piece at a time....and then go throw him in a big pile of ants...why let him go get peace w/ god when he wants to travel the devils road..thats what i don't understand. we all want to live this holy life but you can go out and kill somebody and rape kids etc...but ask for forgiveness and "bam" you are forgiven. it's not my choice to decide any of it i just think somethings don't need forgiveness for. i may be very wrong but that's my opinion. i really think they should go ahead and kill him old [filtered word] because we aregoing to have to pay for his sick [filtered word] to stay alive and it's not worth him even wasting some of the air i breath.send him to iraq w/ nothing but his sicko self and see how bad he is then. i bet he folds like a little baby. let one of the bombs take a blow to his head. i know i sound a little hateful but i really do not understand people that do things like this. there isn't no chemical imbalance it's just people w/ nothing better to do.send them my way and i will give them all they need i "promise"

peace

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 01/09/08 - 08:01 am
0
0
He will get what he deserves,

He will get what he deserves, even though they can't give him the death penalty he will surely suffer for this horrible crime. What a sick individual he is. God bless her family.

september 5th
1
Points
september 5th 01/09/08 - 08:13 am
0
0
notice to all females:

notice to all females: remember what you learned in first grade: DON'T TALK TO STRANGERS! EVEN IF THEY HAVE A CUTE DOG!..it is obvious that this man is a predator and told this young lady lies which in turn caused her to trust him! walking with a dog is not like walking with a knife or gun or cellphone...

heartablazing
28
Points
heartablazing 01/09/08 - 08:21 am
0
0
He is an old fart that was

He is an old fart that was homeless. Chances are his health is not the best. Even if he was given the death penalty he would still sit in prison for 10+ years before the execution would be carried out. I don't believe he will even live that long. The good thing is he will not leave prison walking, he will leave in a body bag either way.

a crazy old man
30
Points
a crazy old man 01/09/08 - 08:57 am
0
0
I think they should let me

I think they should let me take him Gator huntin. I'll use his trashy a_ _ as cut bait.

ljp
0
Points
ljp 01/09/08 - 09:11 am
0
0
Now, they will put him in

Now, they will put him in prison and we can huse and feed him for the nwxt 30 years.......sad

Jolly06
0
Points
Jolly06 01/09/08 - 09:16 am
0
0
P.S. Ladies: Dont ever go

P.S. Ladies: Dont ever go hiking in a wooded area, especially the Mountains, by yourself! I am sorry this happened to her.

moneyman1035
0
Points
moneyman1035 01/09/08 - 10:30 am
0
0
I agree this is a sad and

I agree this is a sad and tragic story, and I agree the details of the way she was found did not need to be disclosed.
Our society needs to wake up, its not like when I was a kid, But I still see children walking down streets alone, ladies at the store at 11pm at night alone, I am so sorry for this family, we have to wake up and smell the coffee this is not Kansas anymore. Ladies please protect your selve and guys we have to do the same too.

EdithPiaf
2
Points
EdithPiaf 01/09/08 - 11:21 am
0
0
I would never go hiking

I would never go hiking alone! Why wouldn't someone advise her not to go alone, or go with her? I bet she's not his first victim.

christian134
1
Points
christian134 01/09/08 - 11:53 am
0
0
It really itsn't safe anymore

It really itsn't safe anymore with a male companion. Nowadays they just shoot the guy and do what they do after. Be careful out there especially in lonely out of the way places or at night.

KSL
139726
Points
KSL 01/09/08 - 12:07 pm
0
0
While including the detail of

While including the detail of the decapitation may seem insensitive, the inclusion may have been to serve the purpose of advising the public that there are murderers amongst us who are absolute monsters.

funksgirl3
0
Points
funksgirl3 01/09/08 - 01:21 pm
0
0
If my guess is correct, they

If my guess is correct, they are pretty sure that they can connect him with other killings. Keep in mind that his "deal" with the DA on the Emerson case doesn't protect him from the death penalty in other cases. They probably have DNA evidence or some trace evidence from other crimes that can link them to him. Now that he is in custody, he has to give up his DNA sample. They WILL link him to something else. He is a serial killer. It's obvious this isn't his first time. There is always trace evidence left behind. The rule of thumb is this... they (criminals) always take something with them to a crime and they will always leave something behind. Justice will get served.

mgr
0
Points
mgr 01/09/08 - 01:59 pm
0
0
The article is somewhat hard

The article is somewhat hard to read in regards to the mutilation that took place. I've often thought what the family would feel having to hear these types of horror stories, but the media makes sure they report as much gruesome news as they can. This was all over the news last night while I was trying to have dinner with my children and had to again explain this to them as delicately as possible.It's like these rampage shootings, the more publicity they get the more you hear about them.

swopslash
0
Points
swopslash 01/09/08 - 02:18 pm
0
0
Ya know they were going to

Ya know they were going to search the area where she was found due to witnesses seeing the vehicle parked there. But instead of searching they allowed him to "cut a deal"---show them where the body is and get supported by tax dollars the rest of his life versus the death penalty. Maybe search first and let him plead out if unable to find her. I know it's important to resolve something like this asap, but it really sucks that the bastard was allowed to save himself.

Rob Pavey
552
Points
Rob Pavey 01/09/08 - 03:13 pm
0
0
even if he got the death

even if he got the death penalty the average time from conviction to execution in Georgia is over 15 years, and he probably wouldnt last that long in prison anyway. This will no doubt instill more paranoia and fear among everyone who hikes or jogs along in remote areas.....they will all eye one another with suspicion now. very sad.

KSL
139726
Points
KSL 01/09/08 - 03:20 pm
0
0
He's 61. Even if he gets the

He's 61. Even if he gets the death penalty he would probably die on death row of natural causes as slowly as the wheels of justice turn. If he is a serial killer, someone else will link him to a murder. The value of finding her body quickly to her family and to law enforcement may well be worth the deal in this case. At least there won't be the public expense of him spending years appealing a death sentence.

MartinezWest Augusta
2
Points
MartinezWest Augusta 01/09/08 - 03:30 pm
0
0
Another white man kills a

Another white man kills a white woman. Thugs are taking over the world

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 01/09/08 - 06:47 pm
0
0
Teddy1 - I love it. As I said

Teddy1 - I love it. As I said yesterday, I would blow his testicles away, and let him bleed to death. I cannot BELIEVE that they made a DEAL with that piece of excrement. That Attorney should have his head examined. Even if he did it for the family's sake...

enana03
0
Points
enana03 01/09/08 - 06:53 pm
0
0
I say this piece of garbage

I say this piece of garbage should meet the same fate as his victim, but make it slow and methodical. He does not deserve any consideration what-so-ever. What a coward! Condolences to the family of a beautiful life lost too soon.

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