DUNCANNON, Pa. -- State police scoured a section of the Appalachian Trail Friday for clues to the deaths of two hikers, while trail officials advised hikers to avoid the entire 230-mile stretch of trail in Pennsylvania.
Perry County Coroner Michael Shalonis said the victims were Geoffrey L. Hood, 26, of Signal Mountain, Tenn., and a woman identified only as Molly Larue of Ohio.
State police said the bodies were found at 6 p.m. Thursday by two other hikers at the Cove Mountain Shelter, five miles southwest of Duncannon.
'It was a double homicide,' said Shalonis, who pronounced the couple dead at the scene. He said autopsies would determine the cause of death.
Shalonis said the couples' belongings were 'in disarry.' Authorities were trying to determine what, if anything, was taken from the small lean-to shelter in which they were found.
'Usually, people don't carry much cash' while hiking, the coroner said.
State police sealed off the area around the shelter.
The Appalachian Trail Conference, which manages the 2,140-mile footpath from Maine to Georgia, issued a warning to hikers to avoid the entire state.
Brian King, spokesman for the conference based in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., said the couple were southbound, making their way from Maine to Georgia.
He said there have been seven murders on the trail in 50 years.
The most recent was in May 1988 in Michaux State Park in Pennsylvania. Stephen Carr, who lived in woods near the trail, was convicted of killingVirginia Tech graduate student Rebecca Wight, 29, of Blacksburg, Va. and seriously wounding her companion, Claudia Brenner, 31, of Ithaca, N.Y.
In May 1981, Robert Mountford and Laura Susan Ramsay, both 27 and both of Ellsworth, Me., were found brutally murdered at a trail shelter near Pearisburg, Va. Randall Smith of Pearisburg was convicted in the slayings and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.