A serial killer convicted of at least three murders throughout the southeast, including beheadings, and accused in several other slayings, allegedly told investigators searching for his final victim that her “head will be missing,” according to reports.
The years-old case resurfaced earlier this week, when the murders were featured on a segment of HLN’s “Real Life Nightmare,” for an episode titled, “Blood Mountain: The Hunting Ground.”
Gary Hilton, an alleged survivalist, was arrested in Georgia on Jan. 4, 2018, in connection with the murder of 24-year-old Meredith Emerson, who disappeared three days earlier while hiking in Blood Mountain, PEOPLE reported.
He allegedly told investigators he could direct them to her remains, and added: “Her head will be missing,” according to the Mirror Online.
PEOPLE cited HLN host Paul Holes in reporting that Hilton was known to be “out there in the forests all the time.”
Local law enforcement got word on January 4 that Hilton was at a local convenience store. Officers arrived to find Hilton “literally trying to clean his van of evidence because he’s seeing his photograph in the newspapers,” Holes said, according to PEOPLE.
Law enforcement officers soon linked Hilton to the murder of a different woman, 46-year-old Cheryl Dunlap, whose head and other remains were believed to have been discovered singed inside a fire pit in Apalachicola National Forest in Leon County, Florida, PEOPLE reported.
Dunlap disappeared in early December 2007, and her remains were reportedly found two weeks later.
Hilton was reportedly convicted of beheading both women.
He was also allegedly linked to the deaths of married couple John and Irene Bryant, ages 80 and 84, respectively, who disappeared while hiking in October 2007 in North Carolina. Their remains were not located for months, PEOPLE reported.
Police are still investigating Hilton’s possible involvement in other cases, such as the 2005 disappearance of 28-year-old Rossana Miliani.
Hilton was sentenced to be executed and remains on death row in Florida.