An Army veteran was stabbed to death on the Appalachian Trail where he was hiking.
Ronald Sanchez, 43, died Saturday after he was fatally stabbed on the trail he routinely hiked to help with his post-traumatic stress disorder, CNN reported.
Following deployments to Iraq, Sanchez, an Oklahoma resident, developed PTSD and later took to the outdoors to battle the disorder.
Sanchez was among four hikers who were approached by a man acting strangely on a trail in Smyth County on Friday night.
One of the hikers said, “He was acting disturbed and unstable, and was playing the guitar and singing.”
The man left but returned later after the four hikers set up camp in Wythe County.
The affidavit stated, “The suspect spoke to the hikers through their tents and threatened to pour gasoline on their tents and burn them to death.”
Ronald Sanchez’s hike along the Appalachian Trail was among the outdoor activities that helped lift him from the “darkness” of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder that followed deployments in the US Army, his sister said https://t.co/06pHmpDvXp
— CNN (@CNN) May 15, 2019
Sanchez and the other three hikers scurried to gather their belongings and get away but the suspect, who was identified later as 30-year-old James Jordan, grabbed a knife and chased two of the hikers.
He didn’t catch up them, so he returned to the campsite and after an argument ensued, he stabbed Sanchez to death.
The remaining female hiker fled, and Jordan chased her. When he caught up to her, he began stabbing her too. She fell and pretended to be dead, convincing Jordan and causing him to leave.
After he was gone, the injured woman took off to find help. She met up with two hikers, who helped her make it six miles on foot to call 911.
When first responders arrived on the scene, they pronounced Sanchez dead.
Jordan was arrested and charged in U.S. District Court in Abingdon with one count of murder and one count of assault with the intent to murder, CNN stated.
Sanchez’ former wife, Elizabeth Kordek said, “We’re really wondering how those last moments were. He’s strong and he’s a fighter… He was a good person. He had a really good heart.”
Ronald Sanchez’s sister, Brenda Sanchez said, “He was loving, kindhearted. He was always there for me, even though we were miles apart… He was a proud man. He loved people.”
She added, “He was adventurous, and he got out of his shell and we were so proud of that because for a while he was in darkness.”
Kordek said, “He was in a cycling group, he was showing horses, and on a dragon (boat racing) team and these were all out of his comfort zone because he was a really shy guy. To survive those deployments in Iraq and to die like this is just devastating.”