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Man Indicted for Slaying of Hikers

Man Indicted for Slaying of Hikers
A man has been indicted for capital murder and for committing a hate crime on the basis of sexual orientation in the 1996 slayings of two young female hikers in Virginia, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

Attorney General John Ashcroft, at a Justice Department news conference, said Darrell David Rice was indicted by a grand jury in Charlottesville, Va.

The bodies of Julianne Williams, 24, of St. Cloud, Minn., and Lollie Winans, 26, of Unity, Maine, were found at a secluded creek-side campsite, a half-mile from the Skyland Lodge on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.

The time of the slayings was never pinpointed, and the indictment Wednesday set the crime at sometime between May 24 and June 1, 1996.

The indictment charged Rice with the slaying of each woman, and said that in each case the defendant ``intentionally selected'' the victim ``because of the actual or perceived gender or sexual orientation.''

Rice had been held in jail in Charlottesville since 1999 in connection with an unrelated abduction case, authorities said.

The wrists of the two slain women were tied, and one body was inside a tent and the other was outside when National Park Service rangers discovered the pair on June 1, 1996, Stanley Klein, special agent in charge of the FBI's Richmond office, said at the time.

Klein also said at the time that the women's throats had been cut, but he did not say whether a knife or some other sharp object was used.

Not long after the FBI entered the case, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force asked that the it investigate whether the slayings were a hate crime. But an FBI spokesman at the time said investigators were not specifically looking into such a motive.

``Whatever their lifestyles were ... we follow it,'' Klein said then. ``Absolutely, we are looking into every aspect, whether it involves their lifestyles, hiking habits, family, friends or whatever.''

Investigators did not believe robbery was a motive because there was no evidence to indicate any of the women's belongings were taken.
 
 

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