“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 riveting deep dive into the unsolved murder of two free-spirited young women in the wilderness, a journalist's obsession—and a new theory of who might have done it.
They must have been followed. That’s the thought I return to after all these years . . .
In May 1996, two skilled backcountry leaders, Lollie Winans and Julie Williams, entered Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park for a week-long backcountry camping trip. The free-spirited and remarkable young couple had met and fallen in love the previous summer while working at a world-renowned outdoor program for women. During their 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 as planned, 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 begins looking 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 a call to justice—and a searching and urgent plea to make wilderness a safe space for women—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 including 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 https://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.”
"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.”
“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
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“The fast-paced and dark story is a remarkable read for true-crime fans.”
“One of the most gripping books I’ve read this year.”
—Dana Wilde, CentralMaine.com