Shenandoah National Park: Beauty and Brutality

LURAY, VIRGINIA, June 6, 2010 — The Shenandoah National Park is a place of natural beauty.  Nestled between the tiny and somewhat stereotypical hill country towns of Sperryville and Luray, this portion of the Appalachian Mountain range hugs the Massanutten Mountains to the west.  From the Skyline Visitors Center, a beautiful view is had from Thorofare Mountain Overlook.

Yet, just prior to Memorial Day 1996, two women, Julie Williams and Lollie Winans met their fates less than a half a mile from this heavily traveled area of the park.

During the Spingola Files (SF) visit to the Shenadoah, armed with information about from various sources about these homicides, SF walked the Appalachian hiking trail and located the purported scene of the hikers’ demise. 

From my background in criminal investigative analysis, the location — a tiny cove surrounded by exposed rocks — lends credence to following profile:

I believe that whoever committed the homicides of Julie Williams and Lollie Winans is a white male, possibility with military experience, an outdoorsmen, in good physical condition, who also has significant skills with bladed objects.

While the information provided to the public is limited, one of the victims was located outside their pitched tent and the other inside.  The trail close to the lodge leads me to believe that the suspect passed by the two women in the evening and observed their site from the well worn path.  He likely returned at night, waited for one of the women to leave the tent to relieve themselves; whereupon, he quickly subdued his prey.  The other victim, sleeping inside the tent and unaware of what just transpired, was surprised and easy overwhelmed by the attacking suspect.

SF is conducting follow-up regarding this case and will report back to readers.

The Spingola Files is planning to make an unannounced visit to another area today.  Stay tuned for updates.


Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of The Killer in Our Midst: the Case of Milwaukee’s North Side Strangler.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010

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