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Summary

“​Trailed is a beautifully written account of a great American tragedy—the unsolved murders of an undetermined number of young women, all by the same serial killer, who got away. The truth is still buried. I couldn’t put it down.” —John Grisham, #1 New York Times bestselling author

A riveting deep dive into the unsolved murder of two free-spirited young women in the wilderness, a journalist's obsession—and a new theory of who might have done it

In May 1996, Julie Williams and Lollie Winans were brutally murdered while backpacking in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, adjacent to the world-famous Appalachian Trail. The young women were skilled backcountry leaders and they had met—and fallen in love—the previous summer, while working at a world-renowned outdoor program for women. But despite an extensive joint investigation by the FBI, the Virginia police, and National Park Service experts, the case remained unsolved for years.

In early 2002 and in response to mounting political pressure, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that he would be seeking the death penalty against Darrell David Rice—already in prison for assaulting another woman—in the first capital case tried under new, post-9/11 federal hate crime legislation. But two years later, the Department of Justice quietly suspended its case against Rice, and the investigation has since grown cold. Did prosecutors have the right person?

Journalist Kathryn Miles was a professor at Lollie Winans's wilderness college in Maine when the 2002 indictment was announced. On the 20th anniversary of the murder, she began looking into the lives of these adventurous women—whose loss continued to haunt all who had encountered them—along with the murder investigation and subsequent case against Rice. As she dives deeper into the case, winning the trust of the victims’ loved ones as well as investigators and gaining access to key documents, Miles becomes increasingly obsessed with the loss of the generous and free-spirited Lollie and Julie, who were just on the brink of adulthood, and at the same time she discovers evidence of cover-ups, incompetence, and crime-scene sloppiness that seemed part of a larger problem in America’s pursuit of justice in national parks. She also becomes convinced of Rice’s innocence, and zeroes in on a different likely suspect.

Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders is a riveting, eye-opening, and heartbreaking work, offering a braided narrative about two remarkable women who were murdered doing what they most loved, the forensics of this cold case, and the surprising pervasiveness and long shadows cast by violence against women in the backcountry.

©2022 Kathryn Miles (P)2022 Workman Audio

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  • Thomas A. Burton
  • 06-05-22

This book is beautiful in its heartbreak.

I have listened to hundreds of titles over the past decade, and this is the first book that has compelled me to offer my humble opinion. There’s so much more to this book than the deaths of Lollie and Julie. It is also about their lives and their loves. It is about injustice for the sake of justice. I listened, then I listened again. Thank you, Kathryn Miles, for such a beautifully written book.

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  • Theresa Mendell
  • 25-05-22

Good listen

I enjoyed listening to this but definitely be prepared for tons of detail and back stories. The narrator is great but this book might be better read rather than listened to because of all the details. It’s really good though.

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  • Christine
  • 13-05-22

Thriller

Wow! I binge-listened to this book. I couldn’t turn it off even though it is disturbing. Yes, fair warning, this book has some gruesome details about the murders, yet the story is told with such care and empathy.

I really enjoyed hearing the author’s story in her hunt for the real killer, which is different than other third-person true crime stories I’ve read. She’s a wonderful writer and knows how to weave a story.

If you like true crime, I HIGHLY recommend this book.

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  • C. Dungy
  • 15-05-22

This books is so good. Necessary and gripping.

I am not typically a true crime fan, partly because the stories so often center around women who’ve been killed doing things I love. Or just for being alive. But Kathryn Miles is such a caring and compelling writer. I couldn’t put Trailed down. The book isn’t gratuitous in anyway, and the story she tells is important and fascinating and powerful. This book is a fitting tribute to the memories of so many murdered women. And I learned a lot from reading it.

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  • GatorCindy
  • 04-05-22

Excellent Examination of the Murders of Julie and Lollie

It’s been almost 26 years since the murders of Julie Williams and Lollie Winans in Shenandoah National Park. A suspect was arrested six years after they were murdered, but the government eventually had to drop the case due to problems with their evidence. This book is excellently researched and shows the issues with that evidence, as well as making a good case for another plausible suspect. Be ready to spend some time with this book. You won’t want to put it down.

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  • Judy
  • 21-06-22

Far Too Long

At 9+ hours, this book is far too long for what author Miles has to say. She has undoubtedly discovered and exposed an incompetently run investigation into the murders of Julie Williams and Lollie Winans, and notes that there is plenty of blame to go around. Officers of the National Park Service were clearly fearful of creating panic among park visitors, while police and F.B.l. seemingly developed a severe case of tunnel vision in zeroing in on the unfortunate Darrell Rice. That everyone involved in the investigation manipulated evidence is an unavoidable conclusion.

Miles explores in excruciating detail way too many peripheral issues that have little to do with the case, including, for example, a long-winded examination of each woman's commitment to their lesbian relationship. Oddly, the two victims never emerge as developed, interesting personalities, remaining only one-dimensional images in their intensely personal deaths.

Zackman's narration is fine despite a tendency to croak out the male dialogue.