Mr. Jordan had been known to hikers and law enforcement agencies whose jurisdictions stretch along the trail since April, when he was accused of threatening people on the trail in Unicoi County, Tenn., the arrest affidavit said. Hikers shared photographs and descriptions of him on social media after he waved a knife and an ax at a shelter, Mr. King said.
On Friday, on a portion of the trail that veers into Smyth County in southwest Virginia, Mr. Jordan approached four hikers and acted “disturbed and unstable,” playing his guitar and singing, the affidavit said.
The four hikers moved on, and later set up camp along a portion of trail that veers into neighboring Wythe County, but Mr. Jordan caught up with them, “spoke to the hikers through their tents, and threatened to pour gasoline on their tents and burn them to death,” the affidavit said.
The group packed up. But as they tried to leave, Mr. Jordan approached them with a long knife, it said. Two of the hikers escaped, with Mr. Jordan in pursuit, according to the affidavit. He returned to the campsite and began arguing with another hiker, fatally stabbing him in the upper part of his body, it said.
The woman who was with him ran, but Mr. Jordan caught up to her, the affidavit said. She turned to face him and raised her arms as if to surrender, but Mr. Jordan stabbed her until she fell to the ground and played dead, according to the affidavit. After he left to find his dog, she ran down the trail and found other hikers who helped her hike six miles to safety, it said.
It was a pit bull mix and GPS coordinates that led to Mr. Jordan’s arrest.
Sheriff Dunagan said that before dawn on Saturday, his deputies were informed of the S.O.S. message that the hiker’s hand-held GPS device had transmitted. They set off into the forest and encountered other hikers who said they had been unnerved by a man who had talked to them during the night, trying to get them to unzip their tent so he could borrow a flashlight, Sheriff Dunagan said.
The dog approached them, the sheriff said. The team followed it to Mr. Jordan, who was disheveled in khakis and a plaid shirt, Sheriff Dunagan said. There were bloodstains on the man’s clothing.