Monday, October 5, 2009

Florida News on My Friend Cheryl Dunlap

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It is taking way too long for this to get resolved!
My friend Cheryl Dunlap was reported missing December 1, 2007, and her decapitated body was found two weeks later in the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida. We met at Bible school in 2000.

Other related posts on this tragic crime:
December 2007
March 2008


Murder suspect Gary Michael Hilton was escorted into Leon County Courtroom 3A under heavy guard as lawyers discussed various motions, including a trial date, in front of Judge Terry Lewis on Friday.(Mike Ewen/Democrat)
Records sought in Hilton hearing

By TaMaryn Waters • DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER • September 26, 2009source

An attorney for the Tallahassee Democrat continued to press for release of documents in the Gary Michael Hilton murder case during a pretrial hearing Friday in Leon Circuit Court.

Meanwhile, prosecutors and defense attorneys couldn't agree on a trial date for Hilton, charged with first-degree murder in the 2007 slaying of Crawfordville resident Cheryl Dunlap. Leon Circuit Judge Terry Lewis earlier this year approved the release of discovery materials in the case with the condition that details that the prosecution or defense thought could prejudice a jury would be redacted.

Michael Glazer, attorney for the Tallahassee Democrat, argued that the public has a right to see the documents before the trial, just as they typically do in criminal proceedings. He said attorneys who have sought to keep pretrial evidence closed haven't done a good job of "policing themselves."

"What's important about this deals with the public's right of access," he said. "This is not about the Democrat. This is about the public's right."

The Tallahassee Democrat filed a motion to obtain the pretrial evidence and challenge the closure of any information that's customarily released. Assistant Public Defender Ines Suber said she was strongly opposed to the release of pretrial evidence and criticized previous news articles that detailed elements of the case.

"They had the nerve to do their own investigation and were harassing witnesses," Suber said of reporters. "No one was there to say you don't have to talk."

Lewis instructed the prosecution and defense to go through records in the case and highlight information they feel should be kept closed. Both sides will meet again with Lewis in an Oct. 23 hearing to discuss pretrial document closure. Lewis will make the final decision on which records should be released.

On the trial-date issue, Suber said she wouldn't be ready to go to trial until 2011 because of the number of witnesses and amount of evidence in the case. However, Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman said she saw no reason why the trial couldn't begin in the spring. Lewis told both sides he wants to set a trial date during the Oct. 23 hearing.

"2011 seems like an awful long time to get ready," Lewis said, adding that, "If you have a lot of witnesses, you want to lock them on a trial date."

Hilton, who is being held in the Leon County Jail, is serving a life sentence for the January 2008 murder of Georgia resident Meredith Emerson, and he's a suspect in the killing of a North Carolina couple.

October 6, 2009 UPDATE
Found the following article from a few months ago in which Hilton is implicated in yet another missing person. What struck me is the store clerk said the man (Hilton?) told him "he was a preacher who traveled to various campgrounds across the region" and Hilton could have used this line with Cheryl since she too did Christian service.
Killer Gary Hilton may be linked to missing Miami woman

Cobb County News 6:57 p.m.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The father of a missing Miami woman said a man seen with his daughter the day she disappeared bears a strong resemblance to convicted killer Gary Michael Hilton.

“It looks like [Hilton],” said Anibal Miliani, who lives in Miami. A newly circulated sketch from an FBI-trained artist is breathing new life into suspicions that Hilton may have been involved in Rossana Miliani’s disappearance. Her father hasn’t seen or talked to Rossana since Dec. 7, 2005, when the then-26-year-old was spotted with a graying stranger purchasing a backpack in a Bryson City, N.C. general store.

Hilton, sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Buford hiker Meredith Emerson and awaiting trial in the decapitation of a Florida Sunday school teacher, is the sole suspect in two other murders and has been termed a “person of interest” in a third.

The store clerk who waited on Rossana said the man accompanying her was in his late 50s or early 60s and appeared to have been wearing a hairpiece. He told the clerk (who didn’t come forward until hearing about the Miliani case some two years after she was reported missing) that he was a preacher who traveled to various campgrounds across the region.

Private investigator Steve Siske, hired by the Milianis to find Rossana, said the clerk thought Rossana appeared nervous. North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation told Siske they plan to interview Hilton, but so far that hasn’t happened.

"The NC State Bureau of Investigation is still considering a possible connection between Hilton and Miliani’s disappearance, but that is not the sole focus of our investigation," said Noelle Talley, spokeswoman for the North Carolina bureau of investigation.

Miliani’s father doesn’t believe his daughter, who suffers from bipolar disorder but has traveled extensively, ran away or committed suicide.

"She called me most every night, to check in" he said. On Dec. 6, 2005, she rang her dad from a Cherokee Ramada Inn roughly five miles from Bryson City. Rossana, who had taken the bus from south Florida to North Carolina earlier that day, told him she wanted to go hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

Emerson, Hilton's first identified victim, was abducted from Blood Mountain in north Georgia on New Year’s Day 2008. Authorities in North Carolina have implicated him in the October 2007 murders of an elderly North Carolina couple, John and Irene Bryant, last seen hiking in Pisgah National Forest.

Prosecutors in Leon County, Fla., plan to seek the death penalty against Hilton for killing Cheryl Hodges Dunlap. Her dismembered body was found Dec. 15, 2007, in the Apalachicola National Forest — roughly 200 miles from where Ormond Beach, Fla. stock clerk Michael Scot Louis’ decapitated remains had been located eight days earlier.

Hilton is deemed a "person of interest" in Louis’ murder.

"We know [Hilton] was in the area at the time, and dismemberment is very uncommon," said Sgt. James Gogarty with the Ormond Beach Police Department. Their evidence “links with what they [Leon County investigators] have on [Hilton],” he said.

There’s no evidence connecting Hilton to Miliani -- just a sketch and some striking similarities to other cases involving the erstwhile drifter.

“The frustration I have with the case is, if it’s not Hilton, who is it?” Siske said. “If he’s not involved, then we can eliminate the only real lead we have so far.”

Ormond Beach investigators say they, too, want to question Hilton, but he’s not talking, Gogarty said.

"It’s so painful not knowing," Anibal Miliani said. "I hope she never met [Hilton], but I want to know one way or another. It’s been almost four years."

Answers in the Louis case are also proving elusive. Investigators are waiting for DNA evidence from a California lab that might link Hilton to Louis’ murder, though officials say it could be months before results are available.

A newly circulated sketch of a man seen with a Miami woman on the day she disappeared resembles convicted killer Gary Michael Hilton, the woman's father said. The store clerk who described the man to the sketch artist suspects he was wearing a hairpiece.

Gary Hilton 1995 Mug Shot from the AJC File photo, Cobb Co. Sheriff's Office. Gary Michael Hilton was convicted in the death of missing hiker Meredith Emerson.

--- end ---

Another article from last month...

Convicted murderer Gary Hilton's campsite found in Georgia woods

By Ashley Wilson • September 17, 2009 03:55 PM

Asheville, Virginia

FANNIN COUNTY, GA. — A campsite belonging to convicted murderer Gary Michael Hilton was found in northern Georgia.

Hilton is suspected in the slayings of Henderson County couple Jack and Irene Bryant, who disappeared in October 2007 while hiking near the Cradle of Forestry in Pisgah National Forest. Hilton has not been charged in their killings.

A hunter scouting for deer signs stumbled on the campsite Friday in Chattahoochee National Forest in Fannin County, Ga., near the border between Georgia and Tennessee, said Sgt. Justin Turner of the Fannin County Sheriff's Department.

The hunter contacted the U.S. Forest Service, which determined the campsite was Hilton's. He was known to frequent that area of the national forest, which is remote, Turner said.

The campsite contained personal items and camping equipment. Turner did not know if any of the items were connected to criminal activity.

All the items have now been turned over to the state Department of Law Enforcement in Florida, where Hilton is awaiting trial for the murder of Cheryl Dunlap, of Tallahassee, Fla., said John Bankhead, spokesman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

N.C. Bureau of Investigation officials have been made aware of the campsite. Florida authorities will contact them if any items can be connected to the Bryants' killings, Bankhead said.

Hilton is serving a life sentence for the abduction and murder of Georgia hiker Meredith Emerson, 24. The campsite was located near the area of Emerson's abduction, Turner said.

The body of Irene Bryant, 84, was found in the Pink Beds area of Pisgah National Forest in November. The body of John Bryant, 80, was found three months later near Franklin.


gracelyn wrote:
my sister went missing around the same time. she was in route from Atlanta to Cullowhee to her daughter's graduation from Pisgah High School. She was trying to hitch a ride. that is the last time we ever heard from her. if anyone knows how to ask this man about her or get the police to we are searching for any and all clues. her name is terri beth thomason holifield originally from Asheville. she is listed on the north american missing person's website. she was last heard from in may 2006. i will never give up trying to find out what happened to her.
9/17/2009 9:53:02 AM

sdiwbfar wrote:
Replying to gracelyn:
You should contact the FBI in Asheville, probably the closest office to Cullowhee, at 828-253-1643. I'm pretty sure the Asheville-area federal authorities are investigating for the Bryant couple and Hilton will eventually be charged in Western North Carolina court for those murders. You could also contact the FBI in the Atlanta-area and see if they have any information about any unidentified bodies found in that area.
9/17/2009 2:35:12 PM

Wolfscratch wrote:
Which LE Agency is investigating her dissapearance? Has her DNA been submitted to LE?

A great resource in North Carolina is CUE Center for the Missing. Monica Caison found her childhood friend after almost 3 decades through DNA.. Our hearts and prayers go out to you and your family...
9/17/2009 9:05:47 PM
Wolfscratch wrote:
gracelyn, this is all I could find on your sister:

Persons Network Terri Beth Holifield Above Images: Holifield, circa unknown Vital ... AKA: Terry, Terri Beth Details of Disappearance ... mainly in Athens Ga, North Carolina.

Please provide some links or information on her dissapearance.
Websleuths: Search Gary Hilton or Cheryl Dunlap for an active discussion.
9/17/2009 9:14:33 PM

Elizadeath wrote:
It really sucks that we have to fear these psycho killers in the national forests, it makes me not want to go camping or hiking. This isn't the first one to kill people camping out in the woods. I don't really worry about bears or mountain lions, I worry about people. I know I shouldn't let that keep me from things I enjoy, but I can't help but think about it when I'm out there. Humans can be so cruel.
Gracelyn, I'm really sorry about your sister, and I truly hope that you find her. The suggestions made by other commentors are good ones, check with those; also try the SBI, I don't know where the closest office is here, but I would imagine they have someone involved in this case, and can help you to find out if this man is connected to your sister's disapearance. Good luck and blessings to you and your family.
9/24/2009 1:34:49 AM

Wolfscratch wrote:
White Horse Trail off Coopers Creek Rd.

I have been backtracking GMH, since 01/06/08 which began as a search for Meredith Hope Emerson's remains.

The fannin county campsite was GMH's destination on 01/01/08 but due to 2" of snow and LE working an accident in Dahlonega, he detoured to HWY 52 & endded up in the Afton Rd.(30534) dawsonville area.

There were several duffle bags with clothes & books. A trunk with the skeleton of his previous dog Ranger in it. several pistols at least one was pellet, not sure about the others. Hand trucks/dolly.
While the park official was going through one of the bags he found a plastic bag with gary hilton's name on it. Inside was a pair of lady's panties. He backed out & contacted LE at that time.
9/27/2009 11:31:38 PM

October 8, 2009 UPDATE

Just catching up - here's video clips and an article from Jan/Feb 2009

New evidence released in Gary Michael Hilton case

Posted: Jan 30, 2009 03:25 PM PST
Updated: Feb 2, 2009 02:19 PM PST

Disturbing pictures to show from evidence just released in the Gary Michael Hilton case.

A judge has just released 381 pages of pretrial evidence from the case. It includes several different eyewitness accounts people say were they either saw or spoke with Hilton.

Also a Georgia couple saying they saw Cheryl Dunlap's car with a male passenger in the backseat that looked suspicious. Hilton's next case management hearing is March 13th.

Click on the video player to watch the full story.

--- end ---

Detectives connecting Hilton to another murder
Posted: June 18, 2009 02:03 PM PDT
Updated: June 18, 2009 02:52 PM PDT

Ormond Beach, FL (WTXL)--Detectives in central Florida are connecting Gary Michael Hilton to yet another murder, this one in Ormond Beach. Investigators and dive teams swarmed the Tomoka River back in 2007 after a fisherman found the dismembered body of Michael Louis.

At the time, police didn't have any solid leads, but now evidence has popped up that has caused police to look at Hilton. All of his victims' bodies were found chopped up, the remains dumped in the woods.

Hilton is already serving time for decapitating and dismembering a young woman in Georgia and Ormond Beach. Detectives say his method of killing fits this case.

Police won't say exactly what they are testing and until they get results, there is no other solid evidence that connects Hilton to the killing. Hilton is also charged with the death of Crawfordville woman Cheryl Dunlap.

February 16, 2010 UPDATE

Next court date for Gary Hilton set for March 17
January 27, 2010

During a case management conference at the Leon County Courthouse this morning, attorneys in the case of Gary Michael Hilton provided brief updates to a circuit court judge and agreed to a March 17 conference to check the status of the trial preparations.

Hilton, who is already convicted of murder in Georgia, is charged with kidnapping and killing Crawfordville resident Cheryl Dunlap. The first-degree murder trial is set for July 12.

--- end ---


  1. Two more Innocent Victims of Gary Hilton & Associates:
    Mountain Musings: Two Wonderful People Still Remembered
    Nov 23, 2009 ... In 1990 they moved to the North Carolina mountains they loved so much. ... Their car was found near a trail head here in Transylvania County. ... We can all take a lesson from John and Irene Bryant. ...

    Two Wonderful People Still Remembered
    [Without any apology from the writer, this is a repeat of a post done last November. It will be repeated every November as long as this blog continues. The subject means that much to me.]

    They met on a blind date and took an instant liking to each other. Much of their courtship consisted of hiking in the mountains of North Carolina. She was three years his senior, a fact that brought many laughs in years to come. They were married in 1949.

    He became a lawyer. A lover of animals, she became a veterinarian, rather unusual for her time. Her continued quest for knowlege led her to take courses in forestry, icythyology, and she studied all things living. She would later give up her veterinary practice to take college-level courses in science full time.

    They lived in Montana and in New York, but their love was for Western North Carolina where they always intended to retire. The couple were passionate lovers of the outdoors. When their children grew up they traveled extensively, hiking some of the most rugged mountains in the world. They always stayed in hostels or inexpensive lodging because, as he said, "You meet so many more interesting people that way."

    When they were in their 50s, he hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia. She joined him for much of the hike and they celebrated with champagne at the end of the trail. Other hikers were delighted with her ability to identify every tree, every bush, every flower along the trail.

    Only one of many inspiring comments:

    Scattering Lupines said...

    A beautiful, haunting post and a wonderful memorial. The world losing SO much beauty and truth-- such as these two people-- to senseless malice.

    Thank you for sharing this sobering post and the story of these two twinkling, wonderful lives. I don't even know them and it's the first time I've heard their story, yet I'm grieving the loss and tragedy.


  2. Correction on this previous comment:

    Campsite Cache located, 09/2009
    White Horse Trail off Coopers Creek Rd.

    I have been backtracking GMH, since 01/06/08 which began as a search for Meredith Hope Emerson's remains.

    The fannin county campsite was GMH's destination on 01/01/08 but due to 2" of snow and LE working an accident in Dahlonega, he detoured to HWY 52 & endded up in the Afton Rd.(30534) dawsonville area.

    There were several duffle bags with clothes & books. A trunk with the skeleton of his previous dog Ranger in it. several pistols at least one was pellet, not sure about the others. Hand trucks/dolly.
    While the park official was going through one of the bags he found a plastic bag with gary hilton's name on it. Inside was a pair of lady's panties. He backed out & contacted LE at that time.
    9/27/2009 11:31:38 PM
    The dog skeleton was actually tied to a tree.
    Zip lock bags with locks of hair...

    I am confident that the dog died due to the frigid weather and am confident that it wasn't Ranger.
    The info on the locks of hair were disclosed later.

    I am confident that the Novels were purchased at thrift stores and were mainly thriller and Serial Killer Novels. GMH, was eyewitnesse3d in the Pickens Co., GA Thrift Store by several of the empl/vols...

    The items were shipped to FDLE for forensics testing. The above list is an incomplete list due to the silence by Law Enforcement.
    I was informed by a UCSO that they had located 3 Campsites/dens, in Union Co, GA, and that his total victims will never be known. Said there is clothes strode all over these Appalacian Mountains..
    I concur...

    Wolfscratch: May they rest in peace

  3. Amen, this is taking way too long. What are they trying to hide???? I have never seen a case gagged like this in 26 years as a journalist.

  4. Added a new post on another blog:


About Me

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Over the years my opinions have changed but this will never change: Jesus Christ, Lord, God and Savior, died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay for my sin.