Federal authorities have offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the death of A.T. hiker Scott Lilly in Virginia last summer

Date Published: Apr 25, 2012

Amherst, VA - The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever killed Scott A. Lilly, 30, of South Bend, Ind., last summer near the Appalachian Trail in central Virginia.

FBI Special Agent Steve Duenas, the lead investigator, also disclosed at a news conference April 23 that Lilly “was buried.” Hikers found his “partially buried” body August 12, another agent said, along a side trail to Cow Camp Gap Shelter in George Washington–Jefferson National Forest in Amherst County, almost five miles north of the U.S. 60 Trailhead.

Duenas said Lilly’s last known contact was from the shelter July 31. He was not identified until August 16. That shelter is about 0.6 mile east of the A.T. along the Old Hotel Trail, which loops around and rejoins the A.T. again about two miles north.

A state medical examiner in January ruled the death a homicide and said the cause was “asphyxia by suffocation,” noted Mike Morehart, special agent-in-charge of the FBI’s Richmond office, who announced the reward.

Most of Lilly’s gear has not been recovered, he said, including new trail shoes (Walmart’s Ozark Trail brand), blue or purple backpack, a Nintendo game, and “an A.T. handbook.”

Lilly used the Trail name “Stonewall.” He had begun hiking south from Maryland in late June, intending to go all the way to Springer Mountain, resupplying periodically through Walmart gift cards sent by his mother, according to his family.

Lilly’s younger sister, Alysen, joined Sheriff L.J. “Jimmy” Ayers III in urging anyone with information to call the FBI tip line at (800) 261-1044.

“He was a 30-year-old man living out a dream by hiking the A.T. and visiting Civil War battlefields…. Our family will never be the same. We need closure,” she said, telling reporters later that she thought he planned to find a new place to live in the South after his hike.

Ayers said, “Any information, even if it seems trivial, may be the piece that solves the puzzle.”

Morehart said the combined investigative team—including National Park Service A.T. rangers, U.S. Forest Service law-enforcement officers, and Virginia State Police—has conducted 83 interviews of hikers, maintainers, and others, “in multiple states and two other countries,” including all long-distance hikers known to have been in the area in that time period.

Timothy J. Heaphy, U.S. attorney for the western district of Virginia, noting ATC’s involvement as well, said that “the level of cooperation on this case…is remarkable.” He stressed that his office is placing a high priority on this open case, as well as “unsolved murders” along the Blue Ridge Parkway and a 1996 killing of two women hikers away from the Trail in Shenandoah National Park, but right now he has seen no connection among them.

Duenas, declining to provide more specifics about the coroner’s report or the “many possibilities” being investigated, said the reward announcement and news conference “are part of the investigative strategy—to generate more leads,” particularly from 2011 hikers who might not have seen last August’s news reports and from 2012 hikers noticing something unusual. “I have no reason to believe the Trail is any more dangerous. Hikers just have to be aware and take all the normal precautions."


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  1. Dean | Sep 25, 2015
    I just learned about these rare murders on the AT in Bryson's book A Walk in the Woods where he talks about the unsolved murders of two women back in 1996. He points out that historically there were no murders in the first 36 years of the AT with all murders occurring in the last 22 years, and obviously more since 1996. Details include stabbings and shootings which is disconcerting.
  2. Carmen | Jun 14, 2012
    If you are looking for a shrtoer hike, Oberg loop would be good. If you find that to be a good hike, you will be near the trailhead to hike the Leveaux mountain loop. Neither of these are overly rocky so they would be safe bets and still provide great views
  3. mimi | Apr 25, 2012
    my 19 year old son thruhiked the AT that summer, and is currently making a go at the PCT, mexico to canada.  he was already past this area by July 31, hiking NOBO, and never met Stonewall, but we are saddened at the loss.  its a family, and these thru-hikers are among the finest people i've ever met, inspite of their unconventional dreams and often ragged appearance.  as thru-hiker-come-trail angel Mary "TrailAngel" Perry, told me: the people are the trail. its a beautiful thing.  I am grateful to all the trail maintenance staff and ATC staff for keeping on top of this terrible tragedy.  keep us posted.  

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