Murder of Robert Mountford and Laura Ramsay by Randall Lee Smith investigated in Bodies In The Wilderness

Mugshot of Randell Lee Smith
Randell Lee Smith killed two hikers and then tried to kill two fishermen years later. Pic credit: Giles County Sheriff’s Office

Bodies In The Wilderness is investigating the twisted crimes of Randell Lee Smith, who murdered two hitchhikers, Robert Mountford Jr. and Laura Susan Ramsay, on the Appalachian Trail in Giles County, Virginia, in 1981.

Smith served his time in prison and was released, but nearly 30 years later, he tried to kill two fishermen at almost the same spot.

In May 1981, Mountford and Ramsay were two 27-year-old social workers hiking the Appalachian Trail to raise money for charity when they encountered Smith.

The pair were initially declared missing, but a cadaver dog found their remains buried in their sleeping bags at Wapiti Shelter near Dismal Creek.

Mountford had been shot, and Ramsay was stabbed and bashed in the head with a piece of iron. She had defensive wounds on her hands, meaning she had fought for her life. The cops suspected she was sexually assaulted.

Witnesses had seen Ramsay talking to Smith shortly before she died. Smith was picked up by the cops in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, after he had driven there in his truck, which he then abandoned.

Randall Lee Smith confessed to killing Robert Mountford and Laura Susan Ramsay

The cops found a note written by Smith stuffed into the vehicle’s ashtray; it read, “This boy and girl have been so nice to me … it is going to be a real shame when the time comes to get rid of them… I will be far away before truck and those people are found.”

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Smith pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, followed by ten years probation, which was effectively house arrest. The victims’ families were outraged by the leniency Smith was shown.

The killer was duly released from prison in 1996 and went to live at his mother’s home in Giles County. For the next 12 years, Smith lived a quiet life and avoided law enforcement, never even committing a driving infraction.

Randall Lee Smith tried to murder Sean Farmer and Scott Johnston

However, that all changed in May 2008 when two fishermen, Sean Farmer and Scott Johnston, encountered Smith as they relaxed at a remote spot a couple of miles from Wapiti Shelter. Smith had suddenly appeared and struck up a conversation with the two men. He seemed to be emaciated, so they shared their meal with him.

Suddenly and without provocation, Smith pulled out a .22 caliber revolver and shot both men. He then fled the scene in Johnston’s truck. Thankfully, both men survived their wounds.

Smith soon found himself being pursued by a Virginia State Trooper, which led to him flipping and crashing the truck. He was taken to a hospital and charged with attempted murder but died of his injuries a few days later.

This episode of Bodies In The Wilderness airs Thursday at 11/10c on Investigation Discovery.

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