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Police: Evidence links Georgia murder suspect to N. C. slayings

  • Story Highlights
  • North Carolina investigators would not specify what kind of evidence they have
  • Authorities: "Positive link" between Gary Michael Hilton and couple's death
  • N. Carolina couple Irene Bryant was slain, her husband presumed dead in October
  • Hilton is charged with kidnapping and malice murder of Georgia hiker
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(CNN) -- Authorities have evidence linking the man charged in the kidnapping and murder of a Georgia hiker with the slaying of a couple from North Carolina, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.


Gary Michael Hilton directed investigators to Meredith Emerson's body, according to officials.

Although investigators would not specify what kind of evidence they have, they believe Gary Michael Hilton is involved in the October slaying of Irene Bryant and the presumed death of her husband John, Transylvania County Sheriff David Mahoney said.

After the couple went for a hike in Pisgah National Forest, Irene Bryant's body was found near the couple's car. John Bryant's body has not been found.

"This investigation has resulted in the investigative team being able to establish a positive link between Gary Michael Hilton of Transylvania County and specifically to the case involving John and Irene Bryant," Mahoney said at a brief news conference.

No questions were taken at the briefing, and Mahoney said details on the timing or venue of criminal charges are not being revealed now in order to maintain the integrity of the case. Hilton also is under investigation in Florida.

Transylvania County is about 30 miles southwest of Asheville, North Carolina.

Hilton is charged with kidnapping with intent to harm and malice murder in the January 4 death of Meredith Emerson. The 24-year-old disappeared on New Year's Day while on a hike in the north Georgia mountains with her dog, Ella. Witnesses said they saw Emerson on the mountain with Hilton. Days later, Hilton led authorities to her body.


Hilton is also the primary suspect in the death of Cheryl Dunlap, 46, whose body was found December 16 in Apalachicola National Forest, southwest of Tallahassee, Florida.

Investigators know Hilton was in the area at the time Dunlap disappeared 15 days earlier because he encountered a forestry agent who wrote down his vehicle's tag number and ran it through the police database, authorities said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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