ATLANTA — Using her wits and training as a martial artist, Meredith Emerson struggled to survive in the north Georgia mountains after she was abducted by a drifter who was looking for easy prey, interviews with her convicted killer have revealed.
Details of the interview with Gary Michael Hilton obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation tell the tale of Hilton's four days with Emerson, and how she fought him from the moment he tried to overpower her as she hiked with her dog, Ella.
In the end, it was Hilton who apparently outsmarted her before bludgeoning Emerson to death and decapitating her. But investigators said she never gave up.
Hilton, a wiry man with a slight build, told investigators he targeted the 24-year-old University of Georgia graduate because she was a woman. For a time, they walked together with their dogs on New Year's Day near the Appalachian Trail in Union County, but the 61-year-old Hilton couldn't keep up.
When Emerson headed back down the trail, Hilton was waiting with a military-style knife. He demanded her ATM card and Emerson immediately went on the defensive, grabbing the blade and the baton Hilton countered with.
On the day Hilton killed Emerson, he told her "she was going home." After securing her to a tree, he walked back to the van to collect himself and made some coffee.
When he came back, Hilton walked up behind her as if he were coming over to remove the chains holding her to the tree and hit her several times with the handle from a tire jack.