Monday, August 26, 2013

Statement Analysis: Husband of Missing Hiker

Husband of disappeared AT hiker plagued by questions, doubting he’ll ever see wife again

Geraldine Largay in the black jacket searchers say she would have been wearing around the time of her disappearance.
Maine Department of Public Safety
Geraldine Largay in the black jacket searchers say she would have been wearing around the time of her disappearance.
She was 200 miles from her goal, the rocky Maine mountain that marks the northern end of the Appalachian Trail. She’d been in touch with her husband just that morning. She’d said a cheery hello to other hikers, who snapped her photo before she turned toward the peaks rising in the distance.
And then?
Geraldine “Gerry” Largay vanished on July 23. No one knows what happened to the former Peachtree Corners resident.
News of her disappearance has rippled through metro communities where Gerry was a constant, smiling presence — prompted questions, too. Did she fall off a cliff? Did someone attack her?
George Largay figures he may never again see his wife — not alive, anyway. He’s learning to refer to her in the past tense.
She was absolutely where she wanted to be,” Largay, 69, said last week. “She was absolutely doing what she wanted to do.”
Note the use of the verb, "was" in the past tense.  He believes she is not alive. 
One might ask about the word "absolutely" used twice...was he supportive of her hiking?  Why the need for emphasis?
Did she want him to go but he did not want to?  The word "absolutely" is sensitive, and there is a reason.  The article gives us the explanation as we view his sad quotes. 
Meantime, police keep searching for the lost hiker as summer wanes and the nights grow longer. They know the odds against finding her alive grow ever longer, too. They’ve combed hills on foot, sent helicopters thudding skyward, followed dogs trained to sniff the faintest scent. Word about the missing grandmother has gone up and down the 2,200-mile trail that cuts a diagonal from Georgia to Maine.
The mountains where Largay was last seen are steep, thick with forests. What happened to Gerry Largay may be a secret known only to the trees and the wind, the rocks and the water.

‘Meet in the middle’

Two years ago, Gerry surprised her husband. She wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail.
George thought about it. In four decades of marriage, she’d followed him in his career of automobile sales and marketing. Since 2001, they’d lived in Peachtree Corners, where the couple celebrated his retirement in 2010. He owed her the hike.
It would not be a mere stroll in the woods. The Appalachian Trail — the AT — begins in Georgia at Mount Springer and winds through 14 states. Its northern terminus is in Maine at Mount Katahdin, rocky and windswept, rising a mile above sea level. Three-quarters of the AT’s hikers don’t complete the trek. Gerry resolved to be in the minority who do.
With her husband, she hiked 200 miles in the Georgia and North Carolina mountains, training for harder trails ahead. She took a course at the Appalachian Trail Institute. She sought the advice of a woman who holds the record for hiking the trail in 46 days. She read seven AT books. In all, she spent 18 months in logistics and training, even weighing her food to determine how much she should carry. George was her constant, bemused fellow planner.
Hiking (the trail) was not on my bucket list,” George said. “But when you’ve been happily married for 42 years you sort of meet in the middle” and compromise.
This now explains why the use of "absolutely" was used twice. 
George, not a camper, agreed to be the fellow she’d meet at prearranged spots to provide her with more food — and, every few days, with a hotel room where Gerry could take a bath and sleep on a mattress. He adopted a trail nickname, “Sherpa,” to describe his role as the support guy in her trek. She also took a hiking nickname, “Inchworm.” She was slow and steady.
Gerry decided to make the northern trek first, leaving from the trail’s midway point at Harper’s Ferry, W.Va. That would put her ahead of hordes who started from Mount Springer. Gerry hoped to reach Mount Katahdin by late July or early August. She’d then return to Harper’s Ferry and hike toward Georgia, taking advantage of the milder southern weather as temperatures dropped in northern states. Gerry planned to finish by mid- to late November.
In January, they sold their house and moved to Nashville, where the Largays had lived before and where their daughter, Kerry Bauchiero, has a home. From there, they made final plans.
Those plans went into effect April 22, when George took his wife to Harper’s Ferry. Joining them was Jane Lee, a friend from Alpharetta. She planned to make the trek, too.
The two women left the next morning. It was 38 degrees at sunrise. The two walked down a small street, trailing vapor clouds, and entered the trail. Their adventure had begun.
“She was on Cloud Nine,” recalled Lee, who shared a love of canasta and hiking with Gerry. “Finally, we were walking on the AT!”
As the two walked, Gerry took note of her surroundings. She shared her thoughts with friends in periodic emails she wrote with a laptop George supplied when they stopped for the night.
In an April 26 entry, she sounded a gloomy note about the dead woodlands they encountered after entering Pennsylvania. “We later found out that insects have been the main cause; the emerald ash borer has wiped out the ash, the woolly adelgid has wiped out the hemlocks, and the gypsy moth has done a number on the oaks,” she wrote. “Heart breaking.”
Gerry shook her malaise the next day when she summed up their first four days on the trail: “A grand beginning!”
One morning, Gerry paused to admire the rising sun. Its beams sliced the night mist as cleanly as a blade cuts paper.
Come on, Gerry, we have to go!” Lee said.
note the use of "we" showing unity.  
Gerry didn’t move. “Look!” she said. “Look how beautiful it is!”
They covered nearly 800 miles until a family emergency forced Lee to give up the trek. On June 30 they parted in New Hampshire, both weeping.
I don’t want to leave you,” Lee said.
Jane, I’m a big girl now. I’m going on this hike with or without you,” Gerry replied. “I’ll be fine.”
Lee got a text from Gerry on July 19. JANE I JUST CROSSED OVER THE STATE LINE OF MAINE, the excited hiker wrote. WISH U WERE HERE.
Four days later, Gerry was gone.

Few lost

It’s not unusual for hikers to take a wrong turn on the AT, but nearly every hiker is found. A report last year from the Maine Warden Service concluded that 98 percent of lost hikers were found within 24 hours. The service is still searching for Gerry, but has scaled back. It takes three hours to hike in to the area where officials think she went missing. Crews searched for her Thursday, but found nothing.
Officials have not ruled out the possibility that she met with violence, but say the odds are better than she got lost, with fatal results.
“We’ve had a handful of cases” of lost hikers, said Cpl. John McDonald, a public information officer for the warden service. “This could well be one of those instances.”
That’s a hard truth, and George struggles with it. When she didn’t meet him at a prearranged spot on July 23, he didn’t worry about it. Surely the rain had slowed her. He spent the night in their Toyota Highlander, confident she’d join him the next day. When she did not, he contacted police.
He and his son, Ryan, joined the early search for Gerry, only to follow the advice of Maine officials: Go home, they said. He’s back in Nashville, planning to attend a memorial for his wife Oct. 12 at St. Brigid Catholic Church in Alpharetta, which they regularly attended while living in the metro area.
He has memories that won’t let go. At Gettysburg, he surprised his wife with a couple of hiking shirts that wick moisture from the skin. One was blazing pink, and it fit! She wriggled into it, and George knew: He’d scored some major husband points.
Her expression said it all,” said George.
These days, George is, suddenly, someone without a plan, talking in the past tense. “We always figured that I’d be the first to go,” he said. “It didn’t work out the way we figured.


elfin said...

The husband keeps using past tense... kinda strange after being together for so many years, I would think. She was reported missing at the end of July (a little over a month ago) and he's given up hope already? Wonder if the police searched his car for evidence?

TopicNut said...

Maybe he is a realist, no matter how much he wishes she was alive he's have to factor in her age,and history of staying in contact.

I reaaly don't understand people going off hiking alone. There's a PA teacher missing in California right now also. It's irresponsible.
Trip and fall at the wrong place and the wrong time and you're dead.

skip said...

He's had some time to let reality sink in. What he knows of her, the trail, other hikers, of time... I do feel for him. I haven't seen him speak but his words paint him heartbroken.

Trigger said...

He was waiting for her at a prearranged place in his vehicle and said that she didn't show up.

He talks about her in the past tense.

He has an alibi and knows that she is dead.

Where is his anxiety for his missing wife?

Shelley said...

I feel like we need more statments to make a decision here.

I kinda feel like the length of time missing considering she was in the mountains... Could mean that he realizes that it was not just that she was driving somewhere.

Alot of times missing hikers are not found alive.

But then I get the impression Peter feels his statements are truthful?

I think I tend to feel like if Peter is posting it, usually it is cause he noted deception.

Anonymous said...

I feel he is telling the truth.

rob said...

A seventy year old woman, missing nearly a month, I don't feel she'll be found alive either.
Hopefully, it will be that she just fell, but so many preditors hunt the trails and national parks now, I don't feel its safe for anyone alone, or not even a couple, without a weapon.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this was posted because of deception - m ore do to show us how to interpret sensitive words.

Deejay said...

I live in the Rockies- the elements are harsh. Hiking should be a 'buddy' activity!

sidebar said...

a buddy/companion and/or location device...there are so many ways to die out there.

Statement Analysis Blog said...

It is not about deception; but language.

Sugacat said...

I have family members that climb mountains. I wonder what I would feel if the didn't come home at the estimated time, and after reporting them lost how long I would have hope of fiding them alive. I think realistically a weekend is about as long as they could survive on the mountain a week tops. Though generally when a person goes missing off the mountain it's becuase they had an accident and fell off a cliff or into a creviss and usually the outcome is not good.

sha said...

I would have been tossing such a huge fit after her friend one should be hiking on a trail alone...especially not one that far in the boonies, and especially not a grandma.

Where was her CELL PHONE? And her back up cell phone? And her back up batteries? Did she have a GPS? Sounds rather irresponsible to me?

All that preparation and training and reading and mapping.....

I understand why people are questioning it....what man would allow his wife to keep hiking without her friend, etc. It certainly doesn't mean he did anything wrong, but it is careless.

Anonymous said...

You all think a 70 year old shouldn't hike the AT alone. What about a 15 year old?

Anonymous said...

The last place, according to reports, that Geraldine was seen I am guessing is the closest place to another country, i.e. Canada, of anywhere on the trail. The crossing there is rural and I think could easily be accomplished on foot. WHo knows what after that, with IDs needed and all, but I would consider this geographic fact as well. I have been on the trail in that area and it is a very well-worn path, very hard to get lost I would think.

Maddy and Molly said...

This is very sad. There are a good number of hikers on the AT, and her husband met her very frequently for resupply.
She had prepared for this hike and had knowledge of the do's and don'ts. This is what the books tell you. She was experienced, had a cell phone, and a whistle, both hanging on front of her pack. She was known to not stray off the trail. Hikers don't usually vanish without a trace. She would have known the protocol to follow once she realized she was off trail. She wasn't a fool.
Yes, she might me somewhere in those dense woods, but the more they search and come up empty, the more I think it spells foul play. She was nurse and a kind soul. She might have followed anyone who said the needed help or she could have been abducted with a weapon. There are exit routes in the area and this would account for why she vanished without a trace. I doubt her hubby had anything to do with it. There are perps on our trails and we hear of them more frequently now that ever before. Because it never happened in ME, is does not mean it never will. You might recall Gary Hilton who is on death row. He slaughtered several hikers, including Meredith Emerson and the two elderly folks in the Smokies. Meredith was on the AT with her dog and there were other hikers in the area. These perps know exactly what they are doing and often get away with it for many years before they are caught. Age in no longer a factor. They take what they can get. And don't be fooled. Elderly folks can be very fit and might hike at a slower pace, but they are up to the task. In fact they can outdo many half their age who never get off the couch.

Unknown said...

You r so true .... just watch the show about it..something just ain't. right

Anonymous said...

The AT is one of the easiest trails in America. I've done it twice, once in 49 days and the other in 54. My 4 year old could do it by herself. Nothing challenging about it. If you want a tough trail, try the PCT which winds from Canada to Mexico through Washington, Oregon and California,

Anonymous said...

PS: To the guy above asking where her cell phone was: She had a cell phone. How do you think she talked to her husband and where do you think the ping came from?!?

Unknown said...

It's only hard if the person thinks or knows its hard. It's easy if ur in shape or half in shape. That's y it's foul play

Unknown said...

I live in maine, familar with the part of the AT jerry disappeared on, even at her age she should have been found alive or,god rest her soul, deceased , it's all fishy to me, jerry had her life taken by a scumbag who preys on innocent people, and has moved his dirty thinking to maines trails.

jeff said...

Have you ever been to that stretch of the AT? If you have, and live near that area here in Maine, as I do, then you would know that making insinuations about the hisband, are ridiculous. The Maine Warden Service had verification that Ms. Largay stayed in a hut with another solo woman. It was verified by the woman that they left the hut together the next morning. Thst was the hut where the husband saw his wife. Cell GPS recordsb logged her 5 or so miles past the hut. No way the husband could have been involved. It is literally impossible for someone to to get onto the trail, in the area of that cell GPS log. No wsy in hell he could have done it.

jeff said...

WTH??? It could be accomplished easily on foot?

You don't know anything about that area do you? I'm 43 and I have hunted, fished and hiked that area for 30 plus years. There are numerous spots were you can get lost. There area a number of false trails especially if you go a bit too long into the evening. She was a first timer. If she got turned around in the brush and trees, in the evening, should very easily have panicked. It is NOT a place you want to get lost in. Its not uncommon in July in that area, for the overnight temperatures to get as low ad 15º.

Anonymous said...