FindCarrie - AGH - Missing & Murdered Person Blog

Information on missing and murdered people and the issues surrounding their cases. ***No material on this site is to be redistributed or rewritten - Copyright Find Carrie Culberson***

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Disappearance and Murder of Meredith Emerson

It has been a few months since I've posted anything on this blog and I apologize to those who actually take the time to read this. Our group has been active with the missing and murdered person community, but often times it's difficult to find time to get online and post the days events.
This last week has been very emotional for many of us here in the State of Georgia, especially those who are involved in the missing person and search and recovery field. As many of you will recall, on New Years Day, Meredith Emerson went for a hike in the North Georgia mountains and vanished without a trace. Meredith's disappearance was on a day when many of us are relaxing and unwinding from the previous night of celebration. Often law enforcement and most places of business are closed. This was a day that tradegy stuck but kicked into action what I call some old fashion top notch police work, although Meredith Emerson would in the end, not make it home alive and well.

Upon the discovery that Meredith Emerson was missing from a routine hike on Blood Mountain in Blairsville, Georgia, shortly thereafter, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called in to assist in the massive search that had begun. Within hours, a suspect, Gary Michael Hilton was on the news as well as his tag number and the vehicle he was possibly driving was on the local and national news. To my astonishment, witnesses had clear information that had already been given to the police that gave an account of Meredith Emerson being seen with Gary Hilton around the time she was last seen.
Shortly after Hilton's name and tag number was released to the public, news came that Meredith's dog "Ella" was found wandering around a Forsyth County parking lot some 50 miles from where she vanished. Within hours, authorities in Forsyth County were scouring a dumpster at a quick mart where they found items that would later be identified at Meredith Emerson's blood stained clothing. However, at the time of this discovery, Meredith Emerson was still missing without a trace.

By night fall, Gary Michael Hilton had been arrested and brought in for questioning, but still no trace of Meredith, until Monday night, two days later.
Our local news reports were saying that Hilton was NOT cooperating with GBI officials, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that the lead investigator, John Cagle would not let the community down. I came to know John Cagle and his hard core work with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation when our Sueann Ray vanished in August of 2005. John Cagle and his co-workers spent many hours on the case and never backed down one second until Sueann was uncovered that fateful morning and her husband was subsequently arrested. You will not see John Cagle doing many interviews with the media because he is what I call a man of few words. He's just not someone I would want on my case because if there's something to be found, he'll find it and he did.
Monday night Gary Hilton led GBI officials to a location in the Dawson Forest area in Dawson County Georgia where he disposed of Meredith Emerson's body. We'd learn the horrific details the next day of how she died, but for now, Meredith was finally home and not missing any more.
Gary Hilton would tell authorities that he walked alongside Meredith Emerson to gain her confidence and then he made the move to kidnap her. He said that he took her because he wanted her credit cards and ATM card. He told authorities the part that has haunted me, those who searched for Meredith, her family and law enforcement who were just hours aways from rescueing her that he held her three days before he bludgened her to death, then decapitating her head.
Meredith Emerson's body was located just one mile in the Dawson Forest from where a little boy by the name of Levi Frady was found 10 (ten) years ago. His murder has never been solved. Levi Frady's disappearance and murder prompted Georgia to name it's Amber Alert System "Levi's Call". There have been reports that Gary Hilton may be a possible suspect in the Levi Frady murder due to similarity of his appearance and the composite sketch that has been available with GBI now for 10 years.
What's more disturbing is that Gary Hilton is now a prime suspect in an unsolved murder in Florida, North Carolina and possibly this other disappearance of Caycle Bywater that happened here in Athens, Georgia on Dec. 29, 2007. The North Carolina case and Florida are almost a 100% certaintly that Hilton is involved and authorities from both police jurisdictions are here in Georgia to question Hilton in regards to these cases.

While many can agree that GBI moved very quickly on this case and were so very close to even bringing Meredith Emerson home alive, some still believe they failed. The thing for us to remember is that there are hundreds more of these Gary Hiltons walking around in our community. These people are ticking time bombs that can explode at any time. Our law enforcement can be very prepared and very trained, but there is no fool proof way to get all of these sicko's off the street. We as the community have to keep working and paying attention to our surroundings for danger and don't misjudge situations. Nothing is safe like it was back in the old days. Predators lurk among the communities and are everywhere. We can never ever let our guard down no matter where we are.

Tomorrow Meredith Emerson will be remembered at a church in Athens Georgia. Her life will be celebrated for the wonderful perosn she was. Back here in reality, we will begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together of this monster Gary Hilton and all of the possible vicitms he's targeted. There are probably many other families who are still waiting for answers as painful as they may be. We will have to work to bring him to justice for what he's done.

While law enforcement did the very best they could for Meredith Emerson and worked better than most agencies could with 10 times more training, there are still things that go wrong. If we are looking for someone to blame for this tradegy, we cannot blame law enforcement. Let's all ban together to learn the signs of danger and help educate our loved ones on how stay away from danger that lurks in our world today.

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