Monday, January 7, 2008


Searchers look for Meredith Emerson in rough terrain

Gary Michael Hilton, charged with kidnapping in the case of a missing hiker,
appears in a Georgia court on Monday.

Missing hiker's body found, ex-roommate says

BLAIRSVILLE, Georgia (CNN) -- The body of Meredith Emerson, the 24-year-old who disappeared New Year's Day while hiking in the north Georgia mountains, has been found, her former roommate told CNN.

The discovery comes a few hours after the man accused in Emerson's disappearance appeared in court in shackles Monday to hear the charge against him.

Gary Michael Hilton, 61, is charged with intent to cause bodily injury to Emerson, who vanished after venturing into the north Georgia mountains with her dog.

She was last seen on New Year's Day, and her dog was found days later in a grocery story parking lot 50 miles away.

Investigators are looking into whether evidence links Hilton to other crimes.

Hilton sat silently in his orange jumpsuit, showing no emotion and keeping his head virtually still during the hearing at Union County Magistrate Court.

After reading the charge against Hilton, Judge Johnie Garmon asked whether the defendant had any questions.

Neil Smith, the public defender representing him, answered "not at this time."
When Garmon asked whether Hilton understands his rights as Garmon had explained them, the attorney gave no direct answer, saying "they will be dealt with."

Police, meanwhile, are trying to determine whether Emerson's disappearance may be linked to the presumed killings of an elderly North Carolina couple.


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