The savage murders of Julie Williams and Lollie Winans in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park have gone unresolved for over 25 years. In May of 1996, these two young seasoned, highly skilled backcountry leaders who had fallen in love working at a world-renowned outdoor center for women the previous year, were found savagely murdered at their campsite. I never intended to read Trailed, by reporter Kathryn Miles, but great books pull you in. This is how I learned so much more about the true history of women in wild places, why crimes are so much harder to crack in the wilderness, and the painstaking 5 years of research doggedly pursued by a courageous reporter who refused to settle for what seems to be bungled investigations by the National Park Service, FBI, and Virginia state police. Trailed is an important book that I hope circulates far and wide. Kathryn Miles may just yet bring peace to the long suffering families and friends of Julie and Lollie. — Nancy Scheemaker
Detailed, disturbing depiction of the brutal murder of two young women in the Shenandoah National Park in 1996. The tragedy is compounded by revelations of inept investigations by the National Park Service and FBI, who were so intent on collaring their chosen suspect that they completely ignored compelling evidence that they caught the wrong man. — Mike Hare
Although my final takeaway was frustration and anger with the ultimately inconclusive investigation, this beautifully written narrative kept me glued to the page throughout.
It is not only a rigorously researched account of the unsolved murders of two women on in the Shenandoah Park in 1996, and an unproved but substantially documented uncovering of the true culprit; but also an emotional and empathetic study of what happens when violence shatters the belief of the wilderness as a place of beauty and respite, the effects of which can ripple down decades. A must read for all women and lovers of the outdoors. — Tambra Johnson Reap
2023 Edgar Award Finalist
One of the New York Times’ Best True Crime Books of 2022
“Trailed is meticulously investigated, achingly intimate, and doggedly persistent in the pursuit of justice.” —Robert Kolker, bestselling author of Hidden Valley Road
In May 1996, two skilled, free-spirited backcountry leaders, Lollie Winans and Julie Williams, entered Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park for a week-long backcountry camping trip. During the couple’s final days in the park, they descended the narrow remnants of a trail and pitched their tent in a hidden spot. After the pair didn’t return home, park rangers found a scene of horror at their campsite: their tent slashed open, their beloved dog missing, and both women dead in their sleeping bags. The unsolved murders of Winans and Williams continue to haunt all who had encountered them or knew their story.
When award-winning journalist and outdoors expert Kathryn Miles looks into the case, she discovers conflicting evidence, mismatched timelines, and details that just don’t add up. With unprecedented access to crucial crime-scene forensics and key witnesses—and with a growing sense of both mission and obsession—she begins to uncover the truth. An innocent man, Miles is convinced, has been under suspicion for decades, while the true culprit is a known serial killer, if only authorities would take a closer look.
Intimate, page-turning, and brilliantly reported, Trailed is a love story and an urgent call to make wilderness a safe space for women—a story destined to become a true crime classic.
About the Author
Kathryn Miles is the author of five books. Her essays and articles have appeared in publications such as Audubon, Best American Essays, Best American Sports Writing, the Boston Globe, the New York Times, Outside, Politico, and Time. A contributing editor at Down East magazine, Miles also serves as a scholar-in-residence for the Maine Humanities Council and as a faculty member in several MFA programs. Her website is www.kathrynmiles.net.
"Trailed is a beautifully written account of a great American tragedy—the unsolved murders of an undetermined number of young women, all by the same serial killer, who got away. The truth is still buried. I couldn’t put it down." —John Grisham, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“A gripping look inside a tragic, unsolved case.” —People
“The true-crime book that has stayed with me this year is Kathryn Miles’s TRAILED: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders… Miles not only solves the case, she shines a light on the crime rate in the country’s national parks.” —The New York Times
"A tragic story of young lovers, gone too soon. A #metoo reckoning, long overdue. A study of trauma’s ripple effects, extending for decades. Trailed is meticulously investigated, achingly intimate, and doggedly persistent in the pursuit of justice." —Robert Kolker, bestselling author of Hidden Valley Road
“Engrossing . . . Miles takes a comprehensive look at police procedures in federal parks and violence against women in rural areas . . . A must for true crime buffs.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Riveting . . . Trailed is a fascinating story about the search for justice – and for social change.” —Apple Books, Best Books of May
“Mesmerizing journalism… Utterly engaging and always respectful, Trailed is highly recommended for true crime fans.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Disturbing and provocative…Gripping and thoughtful, this book will appeal to those with an interest in true-crime stories and unsettling truths about places deemed safe for all.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Passionate . . . What starts as a true crime narrative about a single horrific event turns into something much larger. In investigating how and why [Julie] Williams and [Lollie] Winans died, Miles connects the women’s deaths to complex questions of who has access to the wilderness, and how the National Park Service, guardians of vast swaths of land, fails to protect those who seek peace in wild spaces.” —Lorraine Berry, Boston Globe
"TRAILED is gripping, immersive, first-rate true crime—engagingly told, respectful in tone, damning in its conclusions. Miles digs deep into investigative records to document the wrong turns and flawed assumptions that produced a dubious suspect and ignored evidence that linked a serial murderer and rapist to the crime scene… How can true crime fans resist?" —Dean Jobb, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
“A gripping, literary account of a spate of unsolved murders, a serial killer on the loose, and a decades-long investigation, and an urgent plea to make the wilderness a safer space for women.” —Sierra
“A beautiful story about a female journalist seeking clarity and life for two women she never knew, and looking to restore the wilderness as a place of healing and safety for all women in the process. An established backcountry hiker herself, Miles follows a serpentine trail of misogyny and the resilience and joy of women in spite of it. Trailed is also a love story. You will turn pages as fast as you can.” —Lacy Crawford, author of Notes on a Silencing
“In an outdoor atmosphere where women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ individuals are working hard for equal footing, Trailed explores the root of sexism and bigotry in the outdoor community and becomes a rallying cry for moving forward together.” —Jennifer Pharr Davis, National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and author of The Pursuit of Endurance
“Beyond an illumination of the murders of two young queer women, this book is a deeply empathetic inquiry into who has the right to venture into the woods and to do so safely. Miles' book is nothing less than a parsing of the forces that have long stood between women and queer people and their physical freedom.” —Emma Copley Eisenberg, author of The Third Rainbow Girl
“This is a sleepless night of a book, a toss-and-turn story about a double homicide near America's legendary footpath that wrestles with intimacy, anger, and our ideas of safety. We get the fascinating, uncomfortable opportunity to join an increasingly-obsessed journalist on her quest to puzzle out what happens when a wild and peaceful place is shattered by violence.” —Ben Montgomery, author of A Shot in the Moonlight and the New York Times bestselling Grandma Gatewood’s Walk
“Miles brings Winans and Williams (and other female victims of backcountry violence) into tender human focus, while shining a light on deficient law enforcement practices that don't fully serve the people they are designed to protect.” —Shelf Awareness
“It is a thrilling, gripping book, sure to appeal to true-crime fans and backcountry aficionados alike… a moving tribute to the inspiring and promising lives of two talented young women whose lives were cut tragically short…true crime aficionados and mystery fans will greatly enjoy this book.” —The Trek
“Far from true-crime sensationalism, Trailed paints a heartbreaking portrait of two promising young women’s lives cut short and a sobering picture of how murderers slip through cracks in the justice system…A page-turner.” —Chapter16.org “Trailed offers a thoughtful braided narrative that delves into these devastating murders and the author’s own growing obsession with the case, while asking fundamental questions about justice in the national parks and who is safe in the backcountry.” —Orion
“Miles strikes a good balance between laying out the details of the crime and investigation, and fully developing the stories of the victims’ lives. Fans of unsolved cases will appreciate this well-researched, compelling story.” —Library Journal
“The fast-paced and dark story is a remarkable read for true-crime fans.” —425 Magazine
“One of the most gripping books I’ve read this year.” —Dana Wilde, CentralMaine.com
“While Miles’s thoroughly researched and rigorous account of Winans and Williams’s murders remains the focus of the book, Trailed also tells the much larger story of how women, BIPOC, and the LGBTQ+ community experience nature. The book ultimately serves as a crucial call to action for how nature must be made accessible and safe for all.”—Atlas Obscura
“Riveting.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“If you are a true-crime fan, or even an investigative journalist, you’ll like this one.”—Denver Post