Georgia A drifter agreed to lead investigators to a hiker's decapitated body in the woods of northern Georgia only after prosecutors pledged not to seek the death penalty against him, authorities said Tuesday.
Gary Michael Hilton, 61, was charged with murder after Meredith Emerson's body was found Monday night. The 24-year-old died of a blow to the head three days after she disappeared during a New Year's Day hike, said Dawson County District Attorney Lee Darragh.
Hilton had already been charged Saturday with kidnapping with intent of bodily injury. He is being held in the Dawson County jail.
The finding that Emerson died before being decapitated was made by Kris Sperry, the state's chief medical examiner, said Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead.