James Jordan is a 30-year-old man from Massachusetts who was arrested on federal murder charges on Saturday after he allegedly attacked two hikers with a machete on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Specifically, per CNN, he faces one count of murder and one count of assault with the intent to murder.
The arrest of Jordan came after the shocking news that two hikers had been brutally attacked with a man wielding a machete late Friday night. Neither of the hikers has been identified. Though the Wythe County Sheriff’s Office originally said they were investigating the incident and didn’t confirm any deaths, it’s since been confirmed that the male hiker has died.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jordan, 30, Was Arrested on Saturday Morning on Charges of Murder & Assault
Per The Washington Post, authorities were alerted of an apparent attack on two hikers on Saturday; the attack in question took place late Friday night. The publication reports that the Wythe County Sheriff’s Office tactical team ventured into the woods on Saturday towards the locations of one of the hiker’s SOS signals. They came upon the dog that Jordan has been seen with, and eventually found him and took him into custody.
2. Jordan Is Accused of Attacking Two Hikers With a Machete; One Hiker Was Killed
Jordan faces federal murder charges for the attack that took place on Saturday, leaving one male hiker dead and one woman hospitalized with severe stab wounds.
Jordan originally came across four hikers, according to their account. Two of the hikers ran south, and two ran north. Jordan allegedly ran after the two who went south, and is accused of attacking the man and woman repeatedly with a weapon akin to a machete. Per reporter JJ MacNab, the female hiker ran six miles to find help after the attack.
Additionally, MacNab reports that hikers have testified to have seen the man known as “Sovereign” with both a machete and a guitar.
3. Jordan Is From West Yarmouth, Massachusetts
Jordan, whose full name is James Louis Jordan, is 30 years old and is from West Yarmouth, Massachusetts. His background isn’t entirely clear, nor is it clear where he’s based right now.
According to Odie Norman, who publishes the Hiker Yearbook, Jordan is accused of terrorizing thru-hikers on more than one occasion, and was first spotted near the trail in Hot Springs, North Carolina. In that occasion, Norman maintains that Jordan was accused of pulling a knife on other hikers at a shelter.
Norman said to The Washington Post, “I knew that it was getting dangerous for people on the trail, and it was getting dangerous for him. He was scaring a lot of people, and there was a lot of misinformation going around about him. People were in defense mode when they saw him.”
4. Jordan Is Known as ‘Sovereign’; He Has Been Arrested for Similar Crimes in the Past
Jordan is believed by authorities to be the hiker that many know as “Sovereign.” In April, an incident occurred in April: Jordan allegedly threatened hikers with a machete, but when authorities were called by a witness, it was determined that he was just carrying a guitar, and not a machete. Following the incident, he faced charges of criminal impersonation (for giving a fake name to authorities) and drug possession, per WCYB. He was given probation and ordered to pay an unknown fine.
“Sovereign” has been seen on numerous occasions with a dog; it was that dog, apparently, that led authorities to him on Saturday.
In the video above, you can see Norman’s video to his followers about running into Sovereign, who he said also goes by “Machete.” Norman said he offered to buy the man a meal, and so Sovereign agreed and got in Norman’s van. “I bought him dinner, we talked,” Norman said. “I said, do you know what people are saying about you online? He was very obviously schizophrenic…he said, “Oh, that was the infiltrators, the war birds,’ …he said the people on the Appalachian trail were good people, he called them the mountain people.
Norman continued to say that he didn’t notice any abuse on the dog, and that he bought Sovereign a bus ticket north to an area where he claimed to have friends. Norman also said at the time, “I’m not saying he’s a good guy, or a bad guy…but he is a hiker. He hiked 137 miles. There’s no way he’s not better for it.”
5. Jordan Has a Reputation for ‘Belligerence’ With Other Hiker, Per Brian King of the Conservancy
Brian King, a spokesman for the Conservancy, told The Washington Post that Jordan “had a reputation because of his belligerence with other hikers in Tennessee and Georgia. With smartphones, word gets around very quickly.”
Norman also told The Washington Post that he gave Jordan a ride once, explaining, “I knew that it was getting dangerous for people on the trail, and it was getting dangerous for him. He was scaring a lot of people, and there was a lot of misinformation going around about him. People were in defense mode when they saw him.”
To The Daily Beast, Larry Smith, a hiker from Charleston, South Carolina, said he’d come across Sovereign at one of the hiking stops, and that he was “ranting and raving.” Smith continued, “At that time, I thought he was just another hiker who’d gotten drunk, or one of the locals who’d gotten a little drunk.”