Anti-gay bias lead to deadly shooting on Appalachian Trail in 1988

Maybe they should have looked more closely at the name of the place where they parked… Dead Woman Hollow Road.

But bad omens were not on their minds. All they knew on that warm spring afternoon, May 12, 1988, was that they were young, in love, and eager to be alone in the wilderness, hiking the Appalachian Trail.

They were also both women, a fact that would later lead to tragedy.

Rebecca Wight, 28, and Claudia Brenner, 29, were graduate students who had been together for two years. In a break between classes, they decided to go for a walk in the woods on the Pennsylvania portion of the 2,200-mile trail.

They were on the trail when they encountered a grubby young man. One terrifying detail caught their eye. Slung across his shoulders was a .22-caliber rifle. Hurriedly, they went in another direction.

That afternoon, following an exhausting climb, they found a secluded spot to set up camp, relaxed and started kissing. The crack of a gunshot interrupted them.

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