In the days since the May 12 assault near Craggy Gardens, National Park Service investigators and Blue Ridge Parkway staff, in cooperation with numerous local and federal agencies, have received over 100 leads. The investigation is continuing, and the public’s interest in helping solve the case is appreciated.
NPS investigators are at a point in the investigation to confirm certain aspects of the incident that do not affect the integrity of the investigation or the well-being of the victim involved in this case. In addition to previously released details regarding the suspect description and sketch, NPS investigators are confirming that the incident was a sexual assault, that the victim was tied up, and that the incident happened on the trail adjacent to Potato Field Gap. There are no further details available at this time.
A top priority of the National Park Service is always public safety. Available data over the past five years shows that the May 12, 2016 incident is the only assault of a visitor in all those years across the 469-mile park. This statistic along with the fact the Parkway is the most visited national park site in the country, and passes through numerous communities in 29 counties in two states, reinforces the rarity of incidents such as this one. While there have been no other recent reports of similar assaults by persons matching our suspect in the area, we continue to encourage the public to exercise safety measures when visiting the Parkway.
More information about safety preparedness on the Parkway is available at https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/safety.htm.
As the investigation continues, anyone who may have information believed to be of interest is urged to contact the NPS Investigative Services Branch through any of these methods: phone – 888-653-0009; email – [email protected]; or facebook at @investigativeservicesnps.
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