No arrests made after woman is raped and stabbed in Smokies

No arrests made one year after woman is raped and stabbed in the Smokies

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The sketch of the suspect (source: National Park Service) The sketch of the suspect (source: National Park Service)
The Ledford family hiked the Gatlinburg Trail the day after the stabbing last year. The Ledford family hiked the Gatlinburg Trail the day after the stabbing last year.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

GATLINBURG (WATE) - It's been more than a year since a stabbing and sexual assault in the Great Smoky Mountains Park and still no arrests have been made.

The attack happened on the Gatlinburg Trail. In the days after the incident, the National Park Service circulated a sketch of the suspect and offered a $5,000 reward.

The Ledfords, from Myrtle Beach, visit the Smokies each year for a change of scenery. But last year during their trip, a 44-year-old woman was raped and stabbed in the park.

The Ledfords hiked the same trail the day after the stabbing.

"We saw a lot of park rangers patrolling and asking questions, 'Did you see this any description of this person?'," said Scott and Carrie Ledford.

After the incident, the National Park Service released a sketch and offered a reward for information leading to an arrest, but park spokesperson Molly Schroer says one year later no arrests have been made.

"This is a very active case and our investigators continue to look into those leads that have come in," said Schroer.

Schroer says there have been no other incidents related to this case.

She says to stay safe while hiking always try to hike with another person and make sure to tell someone where you are going and when you'll return.

"Be aware of your surroundings, what's going on not only other people, like in an urban area. Here, you might look for animals," said Schroer.

The Ledfords say they take safety precautions when hiking, but for peace of mind, both for fellow hikers and the victim, they hope the suspect is eventually arrested.

"You hate anyone to have to go through that and live their lives in fear. Hopefully she'll feel better and she'll feel better once it's closed and he's caught and behind bars," said Scott Ledford.

According to Schroer, there are a couple assaults each year, but normally the victim knows the assailant. The stabbing last year was rare.

The $5,000 reward is still being offered for information leading to a conviction. If you have information, call the tip hotline at (865) 436-1580.

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