Appalachian Trail thru-hiker Geraldine Largay died of exposure and lack of food and water, according to an autopsy by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner.

The Maine Warden Service announced the results of the state medical examiner’s inquiry, which also used DNA to confirm Largay’s identity.

Largay, 66, of Brentwood, Tennessee, failed to arrive at a planned rendezvous with her husband on July 23, 2013, triggering a massive search and an investigation that has remained open for two years.

The skeletal remains of Largay were found Oct. 14 in a wooded area about 3,000 yards off the trail, two or three miles from where she was last seen in July 2013, authorities said.

“These findings now bring closure to one of Maine’s most unique and challenging search and rescue incidents,” Cpl. John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service said in a statement.

Largay’s family also issued a statement, distributed by the warden service, which reads in part: “After all of the communication and information from everyone involved including the Medical Examiner’s Office, Navy, and the Maine Attorney General’s Office, these findings are conclusive in that no foul play was involved and that Gerry simply made a wrong turn shortly after crossing Orbeton Stream.”


“We wish to thank all of those who gave their time and prayers while searching for our wife, sister, mother, and grandmother. We especially would like to thank the entire Maine Warden Service for their dedication to this case. It became apparent from day one that this was personal to them and they would not rest until Gerry was found. … Now that we know her death was an accident, we again ask all media for the respect of our privacy as we continue our grieving process with this new chapter of closure.”

Largay, whose trail name was “Inchworm,” started her hike at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, in April 2013 heading for Baxter State Park. Her husband, George, met her to give her supplies at different stops along the way. She was less than 200 miles from completing the 900-plus mile second half of the Appalachian Trail. She had hiked the first half of the trail, from Georgia to West Virginia, previously.

Largay was last seen July 22, 2013, at Poplar Lean-to on the Appalachian Trail. Her remains were found by a contractor conducting a forestry survey as part of an environmental impact statement for the U.S. Navy property in Redington Township.

A cellphone found with the remains was examined by the Maine State Police Computer Crime Lab.

“Information found on the cellphone concluded that Gerry reached Orbeton Stream and the discontinued railroad bed crossing in the late morning of July 22, 2013. Shortly after reaching that intersection, she continued north on the Appalachian Trail and at some point left the trail and became lost,” MacDonald’s statement said. “After examination of the remains and working in conjunction with information from investigators on the case, the Chief Medical Examiner determined this was an accidental death due to lack of food and water and environmental exposure.”

Redington Township is roughly between Rangeley and Carrabassett Valley, a little more than halfway through Maine’s 282 miles of Appalachian Trail.

Search efforts over the last two years covered a roughly 23-mile area between the lean-to where Largay was last seen to Wyman Township.

Three dog searches were done in the area – which is tough to traverse because of dense forest debris – including one last month that came within 100 yards of where the skeletal remains were found.

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