Man With Moniker 'Sovereign' Allegedly Attacked 2 Hikers With Machete On Appalachian Trail

One of the victims played dead before running six miles for help.

By Gina Tron
James Jordan

A hiker who is apparently known on part of the Appalachian Trail as “Sovereign” is accused of attacking two other hikers with a machete, one of them fatally.

James L. Jordan, 30, of West Yarmouth, Massachusetts was arrested early Saturday for the deadly machete attack, which took place on the Wythe County, Virginia section of the Appalachian Trail, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia.

Though severely injured, the woman did survive the attack after fleeing and flagging down other hikers for help after running a whopping six miles. The man did not survive.

Wythe County Sheriff Keith Dunagan told WSLS in Southwest Virginia that Jordan is known on the trail under the moniker “Sovereign," which means a supreme ruler. Authorities found both him and the male victim on the trail after the victim put out an emergency notification on his phone, which helped authorities ping his location. First responders first found Jordan’s dog before finding Jordan, who surrendered before they found the deceased male.

Before fleeing, the female victim apparently played dead after she was allegedly attacked by the stranger, who had a dog by his side.

“She pretended to be dead and when [Jordan] walked away after his dog, she took off running,” Dunagan told  the Roanoke Times.

The victims' identities have not been released.

Though it’s not clear why Jordan allegedly attacked the two hikers, Dunagan told WSLS he spooked other hikers just hours before, approaching them at their tents in the middle of the night. He allegedly threatened a group of four, while accompanied by a dog, according to the Roanoke Times.

He was also arrested in April for threatening hikers on the Appalachian Trail in Tennessee, where he was convicted of criminal impersonation, possession of a Schedule VI drug and public intoxication, according to WJHL-TV in Johnson City, Tennessee. He's been put on probation and ordered to pay fines.

Jordan has been charged with one count of murder and one count of assault with the intent to murder. It’s not clear if he has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf at this time.

Investigators are combing the trail for any possible other victims. The section of the trail where the attack occurred is about a mile long.

The machete retrieved in the fatal incident was 20 inches long.

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