published Friday, April 26th, 2013

Drifter gets 4 life sentences, killed North Carolina hikers

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — A drifter previously convicted of killing and beheading hikers in Florida and Georgia will serve four additional life sentences for murdering a North Carolina couple in a national forest.

Gary Michael Hilton was sentenced Thursday in Asheville for kidnapping and killing John and Irene Bryant in 2007. Hilton camped out for victims before he ambushed the elderly Hendersonville couple as they hiked in the Pisgah National Forest in Transylvania County.

Hilton pleaded guilty to the crimes in March 2012. He also pleaded guilty to robbery and firearms offenses.

Hilton was on Florida’s death row for killing 46-year-old Cheryl Dunlap, who was found dead in the Apalachicola National Forest where Hilton had camped. He faces a fifth life sentence for murdering 24-year-old hiker Meredith Emerson in northern Georgia in 2008.

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