Monday, April 21, 2014

Tennessee: Solo Tourist Raped, Attacked, Stabbed Repeatedly at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

According to http://www.knoxnews.com, a 48-year-old defendant is expected to plead guilty Monday (April 21) to raping and repeatedly stabbing a tourist in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

William E. Seevers has struck a deal to plead guilty to federal charges of attempted murder and aggravated sexual abuse by force. A change of plea hearing is set for this afternoon in US District Court.

According to the plea agreement, Seevers attacked a woman in June 2012 as she was walking along the two-mile Gatlinburg Trail, which links the Sugarlands Visitor Center to the city of Gatlinburg.

Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kolman wrote in the plea agreement that Seevers grabbed the woman from behind, put one hand over her mouth and a knife to her neck.

Seevers hit the woman in the face, choked her and repeatedly stabbed her as she tried to fend him off, Kolman wrote. 

COMMENT: Seevers “took her into a woody area against her will, tied (her) hands in front of her with a rope and took off all her clothes,” the plea agreement stated. (Seevers) commanded (the victim) to perform sexual acts.

Seevers raped the woman and then attacked her again as she struggled to get away from him, hitting and stabbing her again, Kolman wrote. He bound her legs with her shirt and left, the plea agreement stated.

The woman eventually managed to crawl to a nearby road and summon help.
A random attack by a stranger on a tourist trail is rare for the Smokies and spurred a massive effort to identify and locate the suspect. Seevers was arrested in February.

According to the plea agreement, Seevers faces a minimum 30-year prison term and potentially could receive a life sentence. A sentencing hearing will be set at today’s change- of-plea hearing before Chief US District Judge Tom Varlan.

Fortunately, the defendant, pleading guilty, will serve his sentence as probation does not exist at the federal level. 

From a preventative standpoint, I strongly recommend against all visitors to state and national parks to not recreate alone, as threats and risks abound.

This report will be updated as new information becomes available.