Suspect description released after NC woman tied to tree near Blue Ridge Parkway

Emergency workers near the scene where the missing woman was found on Thursday. WLOS photo

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (CNN/WLOS) — A missing hiker rescuers found off a trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway had been tied to a tree, according to emergency radio calls.

A firefighter with Reems Creek Volunteer Fire Department tells a dispatcher at Buncombe County Emergency Operations Center the 64-year-old woman was alive Thursday, according to recordings obtained by WLOS-TV.

“She’s not deceased at this time,” a rescue worker at the scene told a dispatcher. “She is tied to a tree. This is the one they were looking for.”

National Park Service Rangers are investigating the incident as a possible assault.

The recording says the hiker was found near Potato Field Gap, which is less than 4 miles from the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center.

Emergency workers near the scene where the missing woman was found on Thursday. WLOS photo
Emergency workers near the scene where the missing woman was found on Thursday. WLOS photo

The rescuer asks for park police to be sent to the location quickly.

“We have located her, but we need a park ranger up here,” another rescue worker said.

Rescuers started looking for the woman after a woman called 911 at 1:25 p.m.

The woman who called 911 identified herself as a caregiver for the missing woman. The caller said she was receiving texts from the woman.

Rescuers found her about an hour later.

She had been hiking on a trail near Craggy Gardens.

WLOS reported that a “possible suspect” description was released by the park service.

The possible suspect is described as a a white male, approximately 50-years-old, with salt and pepper hair. He’s believed to have partially grown in facial hair and wearing a light or faded grey, short-sleeve T-shirt, baggy blue pants that appear to be old and faded, and a dark pair of tennis shoes.

They added that the possible suspect may appear and smell of a musty odor of being unwashed in several days, WLOS reported.

The woman was taken to Mission Hospital. Her condition is not publicly known on Friday.

Emergency vehicles near the scene where the missing woman was found on Thursday. WLOS photo
Emergency vehicles near the scene where the missing woman was found on Thursday. WLOS photo

On Thursday, the media saw activity in the area, but law enforcement on the scene would not release many details. They would only say a hiker had been injured.

There is no suspect information available at this time. Investigators say they don’t have a reason to believe this incident was anything other than an isolated event.

Parks service investigators are urging anyone who may have seen anything suspicious around Craggy Gardens and along the Mountains to Sea Trail come forward.

Call the NPS investigative tip line at 888-653-0009 with any relevant information.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report

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