Chills. A powerful entry into the nonfiction true crime canon and the fight for justice against murdered women in America. I highly recommend the audiobook.
Audiobook narration: ★★★★★
I am tired of hearing stories of women being raped and murdered while trying to exist on this planet.
I am enraged at the audacity of the white men who kill them and other marginalized communities.*
And I am here for every expose, every carefully researched dagger into the canon of retribution and justice served in the hands of other voices who are determined to be heard and determined to change history.
Welcome to Trailed: One Woman's Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders.
In May 1996, two young women, Lollie Winans and Julie Williams, were murdered in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. They were in their mid-20s, they were much in love with each other, and they loved being in the wilderness. They were experienced trail hikers and they had done this many times before. But this time, they never made it out of the woods.
In the years that followed their brutal murder, the National Park Service (NPS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) spent countless man hours hunting for their killer. They settled pretty quickly on Damien Rice. Rice had assaulted another woman in the park. He seemed unstable. He was in the area for the time period of their deaths. The case seemed black and white...to the investigators.
It didn't seem to matter that the perpetrator's DNA left on the crime scene didn't match Damien Rice's countless DNA records. It didn't seem to matter that this very organized and sexuality-based hate crime did not fit Rice's M.O. by any description. And it didn't seem to matter that there were several eyewitness testimonies that appeared to contradict the official timeline of Lollie and Julie's final days alive.
Journalist Kathryn Miles was working as a college professor at Unity College, an environmental science and wilderness leader in the country, when she discovered the emotional footprint left on the campus by its former student, Lollie Winans. One of the murdered women from Shenandoah. The college continued to grieve Lollie's loss, and Miles found herself pulled into the case with its emotional resonance and endless question marks about validity of the investigating team's justice.
Kathryn Miles decided to do some digging.
And then she couldn't stop.
Meticulously researched, engrossing described, and involving a cast of characters spanning professions, states, and decades, Trailed is a memorable piece of long-form reporting. I devoured it in two days, listening to the audiobook in every spare moment of my day.
True crime and mystery audiobook fans will recognize the narrator--Gabra Zackman's voice echoes from her previous works in I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara and other crime stories centered around women such as Sadie by Courtney Summers and The Night Before by Wendy Walker.
A tragic story, but one that needed to see the light. Rest in peace, Julie and Lollie. We hope you have found justice here.
Thank you to Algonquin Books and Libro.fm for my copies in exchange for an honest review.
*The statistics show the murderers skew alarmingly toward cis-het white men, I am not making a personal judgement with that fact. It is also illuminated within this nonfiction text.
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