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Man once charged in lesbian hiker killings faces new indictment

Man once charged in lesbian hiker killings faces new indictment

A man once charged in the 1996 slayings of a lesbian couple in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park was indicted Monday for a 1996 abduction. A Prince William County, Va., grand jury returned indictments for Darrell David Rice on charges of abduction with intent to defile, robbery, and malicious wounding. Prince William County commonwealth's attorney Paul Ebert said the indictment of Rice stemmed from the police investigation of "the Route 29 stalker," the man police believe was responsible for the 1996 killing of Alicia Showalter Reynolds in Culpeper. A federal judge in Charlottesville dropped charges in February against Rice, 36, in the 1996 slayings of hikers Julianne Marie Williams, 24, of St. Cloud, Minn., and Laura "Lollie" S. Winans, 26, of Unity, Maine, after DNA evidence cast doubt on the case. In Prince William County, Rice was indicted in the abduction of a 38-year-old woman on Route 234. Police say a woman stopped her car around midnight on February 26, 1996, after a man repeatedly flashed his lights and honked his horn at her. The man convinced her that sparks were coming from her car and that it was unsafe to drive it, police said. The man offered the woman a ride and, once she was in the vehicle, attempted to assault her, police said. The woman escaped but suffered a broken ankle and other injuries. Ebert said Rice has been a suspect in the case for years. He also said he believes Rice was the Route 29 stalker, whom police suspect tried to flag down more than two dozen women along the highway in 1996. "All these crimes were committed by one individual," Ebert said. "Once he was arrested [in 1997], they stopped." Rice is serving a prison sentence of about 11 years in the 1997 attempted abduction of a bicyclist in Shenandoah National Park. Ebert said Rice, who has been convicted only in the bicyclist case, faces a maximum of three life sentences if convicted of all counts. The prosecutor said he believes Rice will be arraigned in the next few months. New evidence in the Prince William County abduction was collected as recently as last week, but Ebert acknowledged the case had been slowed somewhat because of the federal charges against Rice in the slayings of Winans and Williams. Rice was accused of slitting the throats of both women because he hated lesbians. However, hair found on gloves and duct tape at the crime scene did not match Rice's DNA.

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