When a missing hiker turned up tied to a tree near Craggy Gardens on the North Carolina portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway earlier this month, few knew what to make of the limited details released by authorities.
The assault victim, a 64-year-old female hiker, was rescued shortly after her disappearance was reported by a hiking partner. She was treated at a local hospital and released that same day.
Now there’s a composite sketch of the suspect who allegedly assaulted the woman in an area known as Potato Field Gap.
In addition to the sketch authorities have released multiple details about the suspect’s physical appearance. He is said to be a white male around 50 years old with salt and pepper hair and sparsely grown facial hair. He may be wearing a light gray shirt and baggy blue pants with dark tennis shoes, and could give off an off-putting odor due to lack of personal hygiene.
People in Asheville and surrounding areas are reacting to the sketch, released on Monday by the National Park Service, and at least one is claiming to have seen a man that fits the description on area trails.
“Beware, I just had a very odd encounter with an individual on the MTS (Mountains to Sea) trail off the parkway just South East of where the Arboretum is,” Jim Davis wrote in a post on the Exploring Pisgah National Forest Facebook page. “Upon returning home I stumbled across the sketch they just released of the person that assaulted the lady an(d) tied her to a tree near Craggy last week, and the sketch looked EXACTLY like this guy I encountered.”
The National Park Service is asking any individuals with pertinent information about the alleged suspect to contact them via the following channels: phone – 888-653-0009; email – firstname.lastname@example.org; or facebook at @investigativeservicesnps.