Wapiti Shelter Photo.
“Only two things are infinite; The universe and human stupidity,
And I’m starting to wonder about the universe.”
I remember this shelter well...During my section hike in 05 it was pouring down rain, when I got up to the shelter there was a couple there..Well lets just say they were getting to know each other on a very personal level!...Interesting encounter I must say. I also recall there was a large black snake that had made the privy his personal dwelling.
Yes gruesome murder there. And yes there are pics of it here in the WB gallery I remember seeing them and one has our hero Pirate in it ! Wasnt there once a Wapiti one and Wapiti two ? maybe I was just stoned when I went thru there ,,,,,
Yes there was a Wapiti one shelter. Was torn down early 90s I think.
Thanks Wolf, glad to know I wasnt imagining things ;-) So I do have some brain cells left,, kewl !
I remember coming upon Wapiti 1 back in 86 thinking that was where the murder took place so I went on to Wapiti 2 to stay. Found out later the murder happened at W 2.
LOL isnt that our luck ? Wish I was there right now.
I remember staying at Wapiti Shelter in 82 on my AT hike. the one I stayed at was on a hill ovelooking a woods, forest road about 100' down from the front. This I beleve is Wapiti I, don't know if they were building the new one then or the next year. I can vouch for the fact that the one I stated at was haunted. The felling of being watched, the strange sounds, the cold feeling you get.
It wasn't until the next year that I found out about those murders. All I know it was one of my strangest nites on the AT. Haven't forgoten it.
Forrest GumpAnd that's all I have to say about that
When I stayed there in 2002 I could see some human activity as I looked up through the woods in front of the shelter. I made my way up there so I would know what was going on before I bedded down for the night. Turns out there was an open field up there, and some local people were getting ready to camp there. They had come in by some other route. So there is an approach to the area that doesn't involve using the AT.
If not NOW, then WHEN?
I spent the night here on my 1980 thru-hike, I remember it was very near a gravel fire road, several vehicles traveled by during the night. The following year, May 1981 2 hikers were killed here. Robert Mountford, a thru-hiker and Susan Ramsey, hiking with Mountford for a few weeks (in fact she was to end her hike within a few days) Ramsey was hiking ahead of Mountford and arrived at the shelter to find Randall Lee Smith, while there a group of trail workers hiked in they took a picture of Susan but according to the book Randall Smith didn't want his picture taken, they left and the rest is speculation. Smith may or may not have come back during day light, they may have tried to feed/ talk to him he was a troubled person and theyworked with troubled people. Most feel he returned after dark and shot Mountford twice in the head, Susan apparently fought him to some degree but was beat with a piece of rebar and stabbed several times. They were buried a short distance away in sepperate areas and weren't reported missing for I think a week or so, a cadaver dog found them and Smith was captured in Myrtle Beach, S.C. a short while later. Evidence was slim a partial bloody print on a book, some of their gear was found some remained missing. Smith was found guilty and served time (I think 5/8 years and was released) he lived in a small community on the outskirts of Perisburg. Quite a few hikers protested his release including Warren Doyle. I believe the shelter was torn down and a new one was built nearby. There was another shelter a few miles north of there in 80/81 I seem to recall that a fellow hiker spent the night there and reported hearing nothing. These are the facts as I remember them.Rick
5-8 years for a double murder?
That is disturbing.
Checked my trail journal but could not find my old Guide Book from 1980. I only remember 1 shelter in 80' but there was another further north before Angels Rest and Pearisburg. Could have been Docs Knob? Mountford and Ramsey were at Wapiti II a new shelter. Some feel that Randall Smith did not act alone but there was no proof. Evidence was circumstantial and he pled quilty to 2nd degree murder. 15 years each charge for a total of 30 years but I don't think he served a great amount of time. I seem to recall he had 6/8 parol hearings then I heard he was released appx 1995/1996. A buddy of mine he thru-hiked in 1987 lived in the pearisburg area and knew him slightly said he was weird. Don't know what became of Smith after his release.
Forgot to tally but he only spent 14/15 years in prison I was mistaken about the number of years, but 14/15 still isn't alot! I quess I was mistaken due to the years flying by so fast, seems like just yesterday that I thru hiked and not 27 years ago.
I agree, 14-15 years in prison is not a lot for murdering two innocent people.
The last people to see the girl alive were USFS trail crew members who were building Wapiti II. Murders occurred @ Wapiti I. The deceased even had a USFS member take her picture w/ Randall Lee as she may have known trouble was brewing. Randall Lee is a dark figure in the back of the picture who didn't want his likeness taken.
The bodies were not found until Randall Lee told police where to find them. There is NO DOUBT he killed that couple, and extremely unlikely there were other players. Randall Lee was/is not a bright man. Criminals rarely are able to fabricate a complete story w/o police poking holes in it. His admissions and confession created a complete picture of those events.
Read the book, it is worthwhile......
Blackcloud, with all due respect I think you should go back and check your facts, you are off base on several items. True the last people to see Susan were the 5 party work crew, she WAS at Wapiti II. I spent the night at Wapiti I the year before and II wasn't built yet. The female worker took several pictures and Randall Lee Smith stayed in the background. Wapiti II was a new shelter almost brand new. The workers had been doing trail maintenance on the AT and stopped in on their way out. After they left Bob Mountford arrived and as I mentioned above the rest is speculation. It seems as though they tried to befriend/help Randall, they were both accustomed to working with disturbed people. This was Tue. May 19th that night they were killed apparently by Smith. Mountford was shot in the head 2/3 times, it appeared that Susan fought her attacker in vain. She was stabbed several times and beaten with a piece of rebar that was later found in the firepit it matched skull depressions but any evidence was burned off. Susan's remains were found on Sat May 30th by a cadaver dog and Mountford was found the following day Sun May 31st. there were over 100 people searching the area's. Randall Smith's truck was found on June 7th on the edge of a swampy area in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. There were no plates and the truck was wiped clean. When police entered the truck they used the vin number to trace it to Pearisburg, Va. and to Randall Lee Smith there was a cryptic message on the dash seemed to be part current/future and part past. On June 22 Smith was caught in the swamp he was covered in bug bites, dehydrated, and unresponsive as to time and place. He was returned to Pearisburg a few days later. In the mean time investigators had searched his mother's house and found items in a basement area that were blood stained and some that apparently belonged to the 2 hikers. Other items were recovered in the woods near Wapiti II including a book Susan was reading with a bloody print that matched Smith's. There was a lack of hard evidence proving that Smith actually commited the crimes (murder weapons, etc) but there was enough proof that he was there and knew something, he played dumb through the whole trial and then pled guilty to second degree at his Lawyers advice. He received 15 years for each murder for a 30 year total but as I mentioned above he was released after appx 14/15 years and 8/9 parol hearings where he was turned down. The Jess Carr book "Murder On THe Appalachian Trail" is the only book I'm aware of that was written about this crime. I saw one picture of Susan and Robert and I believe a grainy newspaper shot of her and Smith taken by the Forestry worker. Oddly enough Smith worked for a short while at Newport News Ship Building in Newport News, Va. and I saw the Warwick Motel where he stayed. My buddy who lived in Pearisburg and knew of Smith said some of the towns people got a good laugh at how Smith beat the system, he was guilty, everyone knew he was guilty, but they could not prove it BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT! Some think he had a another person with him, I don't think so. I believe he was in the area for several days and chanced upon these 2 hikers and waited until dark to strike. It was never proven if he raped Ramsey her remains were too decomposed. He never led the searchers to the remains, he was caught after they were found. And true he was not very bright. Low IQ, no social skills, etc. I spend a lot of time on the trail to this day and once or twice I have had a bad vibe when meeting a supposed hiker at a shelter. I always go with my gut feeling and even though I'm a male I do not volunteer info about my plans if I meet strangers at a trail head or in the woods. As I mention no disrespect but some of your facts were not correct. Rick Hancock
Since you're gonna nit pick, I know of no state where you have to prove a case BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT. Beyond "reasonable doubt" will do just fine.