Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 72
  1. #1
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
    Join Date
    12-12-2002
    Location
    Marlboro, MA
    Posts
    6,964
    Journal Entries
    1
    Images
    1

    Default Article on Joel Polsom

    Thru hiker Joel Polsom was the first person reported murdered on the AT (1974).

    Apart from a short contemporaneous newspaper article noting his murder and the kidnapping of his hiking companion, I had never seen anything published on this until finding this in-depth piece published online last month:


    https://www.outsideonline.com/235931...st-murder-1974

  2. #2

    Default

    This was an interesting read. Thank you for posting it.

  3. #3

    Default

    The stuff of nightmares for any hiker.

  4. #4

    Default

    Once I started reading it I couldn't stop.
    But now my first day back on the trail will be interesting.



    60 Miles of the AT complete.

  5. #5

    Default

    Gripping read! Thanks for sharing!!

  6. #6
    Registered User rmitchell's Avatar
    Join Date
    09-13-2011
    Location
    Knoxville,Tn
    Age
    64
    Posts
    435
    Images
    4

    Default

    Thanks for the post. It is helpful to get the perspective of someone directly involved. Unlikely the much information could be gathered from the killer.

    I noticed that Joel had very limited communication with his murderer. Margaret talked to him quite a bit. I'm not a psychologist , but wonder if interacting with the killer made her seem more human. Could that have possibly saved her life?

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    10-31-2016
    Location
    Currituck NC
    Posts
    136

    Default

    I need to stop reading these articles... but i can't...im gonna be side eyeing everyone from now on.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    05-05-2011
    Location
    state of confusion
    Posts
    9,869
    Journal Entries
    1

    Exclamation

    Quote Originally Posted by rmitchell View Post
    Thanks for the post. It is helpful to get the perspective of someone directly involved. Unlikely the much information could be gathered from the killer.

    I noticed that Joel had very limited communication with his murderer. Margaret talked to him quite a bit. I'm not a psychologist , but wonder if interacting with the killer made her seem more human. Could that have possibly saved her life?
    I would expect a captive to try to get on their captors good side. By saying or doing whatever it took to make them believe they sympathized with them or even liked them. It's called surviving.

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Huntmog View Post
    I need to stop reading these articles... but i can't...im gonna be side eyeing everyone from now on.
    Joel’s first instinct was to distrust the other hiker. Trust your instinct, if something seems off then move on.

  10. #10
    imscotty's Avatar
    Join Date
    11-13-2011
    Location
    North Reading, MA
    Age
    60
    Posts
    1,263
    Images
    7

    Default

    Senseless,

    and another reason to avoid shelters
    “For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
    the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


    John Greenleaf Whittier

  11. #11
    Registered User soilman's Avatar
    Join Date
    01-29-2010
    Location
    Chillicothe, OH
    Age
    65
    Posts
    523

    Default

    Thanks for the post. I didn't know the details in Joel's murder. I camped in Low Gap back in 1977 but don't remember there being a shelter where I camped. Also there is no mention of a shelter in the 1975 guidebook. I remember hearing the Vandeventer shelter was haunted when I passed by there in 1980.
    More walking, less talking.

  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by soilman View Post
    Thanks for the post. I didn't know the details in Joel's murder. I camped in Low Gap back in 1977 but don't remember there being a shelter where I camped. Also there is no mention of a shelter in the 1975 guidebook. I remember hearing the Vandeventer shelter was haunted when I passed by there in 1980.
    Janice Balza was murdered there in 1975 by Paul Bigley. He used an ax.

  13. #13
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
    Join Date
    12-12-2002
    Location
    Marlboro, MA
    Posts
    6,964
    Journal Entries
    1
    Images
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by soilman View Post
    Thanks for the post. I didn't know the details in Joel's murder.
    Sorry that I spelled Joel Polson’s name incorrectly.

    The Outside Magazine author, Earl Swift, also did the piece on Geoff Hood and Molly LaRue: https://www.outsideonline.com/201132...alachian-trail

    I was most impressed with his reasearch skills, and appreciated links to primary documents. He has real talent. Perhaps Swift will some day shed some light on the Balaza and Lily murders, which standout among all others on the AT insofar as those victims were traveling alone.

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    03-10-2017
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Age
    45
    Posts
    214

    Default

    Read this yesterday evening, subsequently had a nightmare last night about being followed in the woods. Aye

  15. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    01-08-2018
    Location
    Charlottesville, VA
    Age
    59
    Posts
    57

    Default

    You can take a risk management approach to thinking about hiker deaths on the AT from homicide. First, they’re fortunately quite rare (although if it is you that doesn’t matter). Second, the killers most often appeared ill-prepared for long distance hiking, and in many cases seemed out of place in the woods; sometimes the victims appeared to have sensed this, and perhaps didn’t respond to their feeling ill-at-ease, but one doesn’t want to blame the victims for not leaving the scene immediately, as this is highly subjective, and if you’re tired an at a shelter it can be hard to move on. It has been true that the most often attacked victims were couples, and the mean age of the victims is mid 20s.

    Probably the most effective strategy to take is to act on your intuition. A good read on this is Gaven Debecker’s ‘the gift of fear’, which is really intended for those of us living far from hiking trails in towns and cities. He has a number of very practical suggestions to help you recognize if you are getting into a bad place with an unstable and possibly threatening person; in many cases this is not a single interaction, however, as one would have while hiking, it is part of a pattern of relationship. And of course, the last thing I want to do when backpacking is to look at everyone else as a source of harm, this is really only really, really rarely useful, and far, far more likely for us to encounter someone like this living in major population centers. Where the backroads come close to the trails, however, once in a great while this person shows up.

  16. #16

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Crushed Grapes View Post
    Read this yesterday evening, subsequently had a nightmare last night about being followed in the woods. Aye
    Crazy. After reading the story I had a dream about following someone in the woods. Amazing how people have such different reactions to the same story.

  17. #17
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
    Join Date
    12-12-2002
    Location
    Marlboro, MA
    Posts
    6,964
    Journal Entries
    1
    Images
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by chef4 View Post
    You can take a risk management approach to thinking about hiker deaths on the AT from homicide. First, they’re fortunately quite rare (although if it is you that doesn’t matter). Second, the killers most often appeared ill-prepared for long distance hiking, and in many cases seemed out of place in the woods; sometimes the victims appeared to have sensed this, and perhaps didn’t respond to their feeling ill-at-ease, but one doesn’t want to blame the victims for not leaving the scene immediately, as this is highly subjective, and if you’re tired an at a shelter it can be hard to move on. It has been true that the most often attacked victims were couples, and the mean age of the victims is mid 20s.

    Probably the most effective strategy to take is to act on your intuition. A good read on this is Gaven Debecker’s ‘the gift of fear’, which is really intended for those of us living far from hiking trails in towns and cities. He has a number of very practical suggestions to help you recognize if you are getting into a bad place with an unstable and possibly threatening person; in many cases this is not a single interaction, however, as one would have while hiking, it is part of a pattern of relationship. And of course, the last thing I want to do when backpacking is to look at everyone else as a source of harm, this is really only really, really rarely useful, and far, far more likely for us to encounter someone like this living in major population centers. Where the backroads come close to the trails, however, once in a great while this person shows up.

    That makes a great deal of sense to me.

    I googled up that book https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gift_of_Fear and some of the highlights resonated with my own experiences.

    And yes, these incidents are rare. But most do have a great deal in common.

    If God forbid the Trail ever sees another one, the ATC will be quick to remind the public’s that the Trail sees 3 million visitors each year, and safer than our homes. They might even be right.

    And yet, 6 thru hikers and 1 long distance hikers have been murdered on the Trail.

    If that many thrus were killed by any other common vector — lightening, bears, snakes, cars, drowning, falls, etc. — I suspect you would see more discussion on how to manage that risk.

  18. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    11-01-2014
    Location
    Norwell, MA
    Age
    58
    Posts
    2,207

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rickb View Post
    . . . 6 thru hikers and 1 long distance hikers have been murdered on the Trail.

    If that many thrus were killed by any other common vector — lightening, bears, snakes, cars, drowning, falls, etc. — I suspect you would see more discussion on how to manage that risk.
    I was not aware that there had been that many thru-hikers murdered.
    But, we do talk a great deal more about the risks of lightening, bears, snakes, cars, drowning, falls, etc. than we do about murders. And, that is how it should be since those do provide a greater risk. . . except the bears, of course.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  19. #19

    Join Date
    05-05-2011
    Location
    state of confusion
    Posts
    9,869
    Journal Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    I was not aware that there had been that many thru-hikers murdered.
    But, we do talk a great deal more about the risks of lightening, bears, snakes, cars, drowning, falls, etc. than we do about murders. And, that is how it should be since those do provide a greater risk. . . except the bears, of course.
    I think data shows , that a thru hiker being murdered.....is actually a greater risk than death from most of those other things, and possibly on par at least with rest.

    Comprehensive data would be interesting if ATC has it.

  20. #20
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
    Join Date
    12-12-2002
    Location
    Marlboro, MA
    Posts
    6,964
    Journal Entries
    1
    Images
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    I think data shows , that a thru hiker being murdered.....is actually a greater risk than death from most of those other things, and possibly on par at least with rest.

    Comprehensive data would be interesting if ATC has it.
    I think it important to note that none of the murders of thru hikers that occurred on the AT occurred during the contemporary northbound bubble.

    In every case the victims encountered a lone male at an otherwise empty shelter with no nearby campers and that is uncommon indeed for today’s northbounders. Never has there been a murder attempt on a group of three or more — though there was one brutal but non-leathal assault on a larger group of schools girls by a gang of men some years ago — also outside of the contemporary NOBO bubble.

    i would welcome corrections, but I am rather confident these numbers are substantially correct :

    Number of AT thru hikers killed by bears: 0
    Number of AT thru hikers killed by lightening: 0
    Number of AT thru hikers killed by drowning: 3
    Number of AT thru hikers killed by cars: 0
    Number of AT thru hikers killed by exposure/starvation: 1
    Number of AT thru hikers killed by snakes: 0
    Number of AT thru hikers killed by deadfalls: 0
    Number of AT thru hikers under age 55 killed by heart attacks: 0
    Number of AT thru hiker killed by falls: 0
    Number of AT thru hikers killed by hantavirus: 0
    Number of AT thru thru hikers killed by a train: 1
    Number of AT thru hikers killed by rabies: 0
    Number of AT thru hikers killed by complete stranger at or near a shelter: 6

Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4 LastLast
++ New Posts ++

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •