- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 11, 2002

A federal grand jury has indicted a prison inmate in the brutal 1996 killings of two female hikers whose bodies were found bound and gagged near the Appalachian Trail in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
Attorney General John Ashcroft yesterday said Darrell David Rice was charged Tuesday in the slayings of Julianne Marie Williams, 24, and Laura "Lollie" Winans, 26, based, in part, on statements he made to other inmates while serving time for a separate crime at the federal detention center in Petersburg, Va.
Mr. Ashcroft said Rice "intentionally selected his victims because of his hatred of women and homosexuals," adding that the murder indictment includes a federal sentencing enhancement enacted to ensure justice for victims of hate crimes.
If convicted of any of the charges in the indictment, Rice could face the death penalty.
The women's bodies were found at a secluded creekside campsite on June 1, 1996, down a slope from the Skyland lodge. In addition to being bound and gagged, both had their throats slit.
"Julianne Marie Williams and Lollie Winans were young women who loved life and cherished every single day," Mr. Ashcroft said in announcing the indictment. "Earlier today, I had an opportunity to meet the parents of these young women And now, as then, I struggled to express the deep sadness that we feel for the great loss of these families."
Mr. Ashcroft said Rice now serving time for the attempted abduction of a female bicyclist, also in the Shenandoah National Park singled out Miss Williams, of St. Cloud, Minn., and Miss Winans, of Unity, Maine, because of their sex and sexual orientation.
He said Rice told other inmates at the Petersburg prison that he enjoyed assaulting women because they are "more vulnerable" than men.
He has been held in jail since July 9, 1997.
Mr. Ashcroft said evidence in Rice's previous trial established that he accosted the female bicyclist, angrily screamed sexual references at her and attempted to force her into his truck. When the woman successfully resisted him and took cover behind a tree, Mr. Ashcroft said Rice attempted to run over her with his vehicle.
After Rice's arrest, Mr. Ashcroft said, investigators recovered hand and leg restraints in Rice's truck. He was sentenced to 135 months in that case.
The indictment charged Rice, a former computer programmer, with capital murder and with intentionally selecting and murdering his victims "because of the actual or perceived gender or sexual orientation."
The government is expected to charge in court that "the defendant's killing of the two women was part of an ongoing plan, scheme or modus operandi to assault, intimidate, injure and kill women because of their gender," according to court filings.
Miss Williams was a graduate of Cathedral High School in St. Cloud and Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. She had a degree in geology.
Miss Winans, a Michigan native, was majoring in outdoor-recreation leadership at Maine's Unity College.
They had met while studying to become trip leaders at Woodswomen Inc. in Minneapolis in 1995, and had been living in Burlington, Vt.
Mr. Ashcroft said the Rice indictment was the result of an investigation begun in late May 1996, after Miss Williams and Miss Winans were reported missing.
Days later, he said, the discovery of "their brutally murdered bodies" set off a multijurisdictional manhunt in which the FBI and the National Park Service joined forces to follow up on an estimated 15,000 leads and contacts.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force had pressured the FBI to investigate whether the slayings were a hate crime.

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