- A man who killed a hiker with a machete has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.
- The grisly Appalachian Trail attack made headlines in 2019 after a victim survived by playing dead.
- James Jordan, 32, will be committed to a psychiatric facility until he no longer poses a threat.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A Massachusetts man who waged a grisly machete attack on a group of hikers on the Appalachian Trail has been found not guilty by reason of insanity and will remain in a psychiatric facility until he no longer poses a threat to others, court documents show.
The attack made headlines in May 2019, after James Jordan, 32, fatally stabbed 43-year-old Ronald Sanchez Jr. and seriously injured a woman, who survived only by playing dead and then hiking six miles to call for help.
Jordan was ultimately charged with one count of murder, one count of attempted murder, and three counts of assault.
The bloody attack began on May 11, 2019, after Sanchez and three other hikers set up camp in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. According to the criminal complaint, Jordan approached the group’s tents “acting disturbed and unstable,” even threatening to pour gasoline on their tents and burn them to death.
The group packed up to leave, according to the complaint, but Jordan confronted them with his weapon. Two of the hikers ran, but Sanchez and the female hiker stayed behind at the campsite.
Jordan soon began arguing with Sanchez, then stabbed him. The female hiker ran, but when she grew tired, Jordan caught up and began stabbing her as well. He didn’t stop until she played dead, according to the complaint. From there, the woman found another pair of hikers who helped her walk six miles into Smyth County to call for help.
A mugshot shows 30-year-old James Jordan, who is accused of fatally stabbing one hiker and assaulting another with the intent to murder her.
Jordan entered a plea agreement with federal prosecutors on April 15, admitting to the conduct he was charged with and pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.
A federal judge accepted that plea on April 22, ruling that Jordan had failed to prove “that his release would not create a substantial risk of bodily injury to another.” The judge ordered that Jordan remain in custody “until he has recovered from his mental disease or defect to the extent that his release, or his conditional release, would no longer create a substantial risk of bodily injury to another.”
In a victim impact statement, the woman Jordan stabbed said she remained “haunted” not only by Jordan’s actions but by her own.
“I watched and listened in helpless near-disbelief as Mr. Jordan transformed before my eyes from a bewildered, confused man into a violent animal,” she wrote. “I saw him attack and murder a good, kind man … and I hear Ron’s voice. I hear him cry out. And I hear him again and again in my mind, asking me to wait for him.”
She begged the judge to “use what power you have to still keep that man under lock and key.”
She continued: “Keep him from harming anyone else. He has demonstrated that he is an unwavering danger to those around him, and I cannot bear the thought of him inflicting upon anyone else what he has on me. And on Ron.”
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