In October of 2013, I posted a blog about a lost hiker, Gerry Largay. The 66-year-old woman from Brentwood, Tennessee was an experienced hiker, who went by the trail name, “Inchworm.” Gerry came up missing in July of 2013 while hiking the Appalachian Trail in Maine close to Sugarloaf Mountain. On October 14an independent contractor doing a forestry survey found the remains of a human body along with some of Gerry’s belongings about 300 yards off the trail. The Medical Examiner’s Office began an investigation to identify the skeletal remains and attempt to determine the cause and manner of death. Foul play was not suspected. A few days ago, the Maine Warden Service announced the results of the state medical examiner’s inquiry, which also used DNA to confirm Largay’s identity. According to the autopsy Inchworm died of exposure and lack of food and water.
The body was found in a densely wooded area. Largay was discovered in Redington Township, approximately 3,000 feet off the trail in an area within the boundaries of a US Navy survival school. Because of the location, the clothing and other belongings found at the scene, authorities were very confident that the woman is Gerry Largay.
“Inchworm” was a retired nurse and had already hiked 1,000 miles of the AT. She and a close friend, Jane Lee, had begun their hike together in Harpers Ferry, WV in April. A family crisis had required Lee to leave the trail in New Hampshire, but Inchworm was determined to continue alone. The warden service in Maine launched one of the most extensive searches in its history, but was unable to find her. Three canine teams had combed the area nearby and it is believed that some search crews had come as close as 100 yards to the site.
Gerry set out on July 22, 2013, from Poplar Lean-to, with plans to meet her husband at a trailhead about 22 miles away the following day. It appears that she wandered off the trail approximately two and a half miles north of the shelter in an area used by the Navy’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School. The area is clearly marked as Navy property and public access is prohibited. However, because of the location of her remains, a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent worked alongside the warden service on the investigation.