Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia woman 'played dead' during knife attack on Virginia trail

A Nova Scotia woman suffered multiple stab wounds and an American man was killed in an attack by a man allegedly wielding a knife on a Virginia hiking trail. A West Yarmouth, Mass., man has been charged with murder and assault with the intent to murder.

Massachusetts man faces charges in incident that left man dead last weekend on Appalachian Trail

Police say four hikers were attacked by a man wielding a knife on May 10 in Virginia. A Nova Scotia woman was injured. (fotohunter/Shutterstock)

A Nova Scotia woman was injured and an American man was killed in an attack by a man allegedly wielding a knife on a Virginia hiking trail.

James L. Jordan of West Yarmouth, Mass., has been charged with murder and assault with the intent to murder in connection with the incident last weekend on the Appalachian Trail.

Investigators allege he stabbed Ronald S. Sanchez Jr., 43, of Oklahoma to death during an argument, and that he chased a woman and stabbed her multiple times.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said it is not releasing the identity of the injured woman.

But Wythe County Chief Deputy Charles Foster said Wednesday it was "his understanding" that the woman is from Nova Scotia.

Acting 'disturbed and unstable'

Court documents allege Jordan, 30, was "acting disturbed and unstable, and was playing his guitar and singing" when he approached four hikers on the trail within the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests on May 10.

A criminal complaint filed with the U.S. District Court in Wythe County, Va., said the group of hikers made camp in Wythe County later in the evening, and Jordan began threatening them.

"Jordan spoke to the hikers through their tents, and threatened to pour gasoline on their tents and burn them to death," said the document, signed by Special Agent Micah Childers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

James L. Jordan, shown in this May 11 booking photo from the Washington County, Va., Sheriff's Office, has been charged with murder and assault with the intent to murder. (The Associated Press)

The hikers decided to pack up and leave, but as they tried to depart the campsite, Jordan approached them with a knife, it said.

Two of the hikers ran into the woods, and Jordan chased them. The suspect then returned to the campsite and began arguing with Sanchez Jr., referred to in the documents as "Victim #1."

"Victim #2 watched as Jordan began stabbing Victim #1 in the upper part of the body. Victim #2 watched as Victim #1 fell to the ground, at which point she ran," the document said.

"Victim #2 began to tire, at which point Jordan caught up with her. She turned to face Jordan and raised her arms as if to surrender, when Jordan began stabbing her."

The document said she fell to the ground and "played dead." Jordan then left to find his dog.

Taken to hospital

The document said that at 2:30 a.m. on May 11, 911 dispatch in Wythe County received a call from a male and female hiker, who reported "they were being chased by a man with a machete."

Roughly 40 minutes later, a woman called 911 advising them she had been attacked. She was taken to hospital with multiple stab wounds.

A tactical team entered the campsite where the initial attack began shortly after 6 a.m. the same day and took Jordan into custody.

Sanchez Jr. was pronounced dead at the scene and a knife was located nearby.

U.S. Attorney's Office spokesperson Brian McGinn said in an email that Jordan appeared in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Va., on Monday.

McGinn said a judge ordered he be detained and that a mental competency evaluation be conducted, which is due by Aug. 1.

The documents also alleged Jordan was known by the hikers through social media, stemming from an alleged incident in April in Unicoi County, Tenn., in which he allegedly threatened hikers on the Appalachian Trail.

According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the trail is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, spanning from Maine to Georgia.

Guillaume Bérubé, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, said in an email Thursday evening that the department was aware of an assault on a Canadian in the U.S.

He said consular services are being provided to the Canadian victim and her family, and Canadian consular officials in the U.S. are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information.


Aly Thomson


Aly Thomson is an award-winning journalist based in Halifax who loves helping the people of her home province tell their stories. She is particularly interested in issues surrounding justice, education and the entertainment industry. You can email her with tips and feedback at