Authorities identify man killed in Appalachian Trail stabbing

Investigators say James L. Jordan, of West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, fatally stabbed one hiker on the trail in Virginia and wounded another.

James L. Jordan, left, appears outside of federal court in Abingdon, Virginia.

Authorities released the name Tuesday of the man who was killed over the weekend in a stabbing attack on a section of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia.

In a joint statement, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia and the FBI identified the victim in the deadly assault as 43-year-old Ronald S. Sanchez Jr., of Oklahoma.

A man from West Yarmouth, Massachusetts was arrested and charged with murder in connection with the stabbing. Authorities say 30-year-old James L. Jordan, known by the trail name of “Sovereign,” approached Sanchez and three other hikers on Friday “acting disturbed and unstable, and was playing his guitar and singing.”


Later in the evening, he allegedly approached the hikers’ tents, making noises and threatening to pour gasoline on the structures to burn the campers to death. When the hikers decided to pack up and leave the campsite out of fear, authorities say Jordan went toward them with a knife. Two of the hikers ran, with the 30-year-old in pursuit. But he returned to the campsite and allegedly began to verbally argue with Sanchez before he started to stab him, according to court documents.

A woman, identified by authorities only as “Victim #2,” told investigators that she watched as Sanchez fell to the ground and then she ran away.

“Victim #2 began to tire at which point Jordan caught up with her,” the criminal complaint reads. “She turned to face Jordan and raised her arms as if to surrender when Jordan began stabbing her and she received multiple stab wounds.”

When she fell to the ground and “played dead,” Jordan allegedly left to find his dog.

The woman ran down the trail eventually coming across two other hikers who helped her get to a location where she called 911. The hikers who ran away from the campsite also eventually reached a place where they could call 911 in the early hours of Saturday morning.


Around 6:14 a.m. on Saturday, officers with the Wythe County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the campsite where the alleged attack began. Jordan was taken into custody, and Sanchez was pronounced dead at the scene.

The 30-year-old Massachusetts man appeared in a Virginia court on Monday, where he is facing charges of murder and assault with the intent to murder. He was ordered held for a mental competency evaluation and is due back in court on Aug. 1, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.