Appalachian Trail machete attack suspect was acting 'disturbed and unstable': FBI complaint

The man named "Sovereign" who is accused of stabbing two hikers with a machete on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia Saturday, killing one of them, was acting “disturbed and unstable” when the two victims and two other hikers first encountered him, the FBI said in a complaint.

James Jordan, 30, of Cape Cod, Mass., was arraigned Monday on federal charges in Abingdon, Va., accusing him of killing a male hiker and trying to kill a female hiker, who, according to the complaint, played dead after she was stabbed multiple times in the horrific early Saturday attack.

Jordan, who was on probation after he was arrested in April for threatening hikers with a knife on the Appalachian Trail in Tennessee, was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation.

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The complaint said that Jordan approached the two victims and the other two hikers on Friday and that they knew him as a suspicious person through social media as the result of the Tennessee incident, FBI agent Micah Childers said.

“When Jordan approached the four hikers he was acting disturbed and unstable and was playing his guitar and singing,” Childers said.

Later that evening after the four hikers made camp, Jordan approached the hikers' tents and threatened to pour gasoline on the tents and burn them to death, the agent said.

All four hikers then decided to break camp out of fear of Jordan but as they tried to leave, he approached them with a knife, Childers said.

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Two hikers ran off, chased by Jordan who returned and then attacked the other two hikers, the agent said. They called 911 around 2:30 a.m.

“Victim #2 watched Victim #1 fall to the ground, at which point she ran,” Childers said.

“Victim #2 began to tire at which point Jordan caught up with her,” he said. “She turned to face Jordan and raised her arms as if to surrender when Jordan began stabbing her and received multiple stab wounds.”

Childers said she fell to the ground and played dead at which point Jordan left to find his dog. She then ran down the trail.

Hikers found her after she walked six miles injured and bleeding. She was taken to a hospital.

The woman and the male hiker who was killed have not been identified.

Childers said that Wythe County deputies took Jordan into custody at the campsite where the attack began and observed blood stains on his clothing.

Jordan's arrest in Unicoi County, Tenn., was disposed of after he pleaded guilty to criminal impersonation, possession of marijuana and public intoxication and was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a fine.

Unicoi Sheriff Michael Hensley told the Roanoke Times Sunday that he knew Jordan was a threat, but the hikers who were threatened refused to press assault charges and testify against him in court, so his deputies charged him with what they could.

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“I did everything in my power to get this guy off the trail,” Sheriff Michael Hensley told the paper. “And I took him off the trail, I did. But the courts deemed something else."