Clues to what happened to Meredith Emerson have been found, but don’t point to a happy ending. The 24-year-old Colorado native went missing on New Years Day after taking her black lab, Ella, on a hiking trip in North Georgia Mountains.
Later last week police were searching for Gary Michael Hilton calling him a “person of interest.” Several hikers on Blood Mountain said they saw Hilton talking to Emerson several times while on the trails.
Investigators have now charged Hilton with kidnapping and intent to cause bodily harm after finding Emerson’s ID and blood stained clothes in a gas station garbage can next to a grocery store that Ella was found wandering around on Friday. A piece of a seat belt was also found in the garbage can and was stained with blood.
“The clothing was found to contain substantial amounts of blood,” said the warrant.
Hilton, 61, was taken into custody Friday after stopping at a gas station in his van. Investigators say “the rear seat belt had been cut out.”
“Hilton was attempting to vacuum the vehicle and wash portions of it with a bleach and water solution,” the warrant says.
A police spokesperson said they are no longer on a rescue mission for Emerson, but are on a “search and recovery effort.”
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