A Georgia drifter who pleaded guilty to killing 24-year-old hiker Meredith Emerson was sentenced yesterday to life in prison, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Gary Michael Hilton, 61, led police to the victim's decapitated body on Blood Mountain days after her disappearance. Hilton had been charged with kidnapping and malicious murder and faced a possible death sentence. He is also a suspect in three other killings.
Hilton said he kidnapped Emerson so he could access her money on ATMs, and decided to kill her after she gave him false passwords. He said he decapitated the young woman to make her body difficult to identify. Hilton's plea bargain spares him a death sentence, an outcome that Emerson's mother coldly welcomed. "He should stay alive and slowly rot," she said. "As far as I am concerned, there is no such thing as justice in this case. Nothing will bring our daughter back."