The Hell We’ve Been Through
Terror on the Appalachian Trail
“She pretended to be dead until she couldn’t hear any more. She ran— she ran down the mountain to—in the darkness, by that time—to a road where she was able to hail a passerby. She was Life Lion-ed—helicopter—to Hershey Medical Center. She was shot in the neck, and the doctors said that if the bullet had gone a quarter of an inch closer to her spine, that she too would have been killed. She was terrified, and it was a terrorizing act for the entire community, but most specifically for lesbians.” – Mary Nancarrow’s Oral History
In her oral history, Mary Nancarrow, lesbian activist and former president of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Organization for Women, recounted an incident that traumatized the central PA LGBTQ+ community. Rebecca Wight and her girlfriend Claudia Brenner were shot by a deranged gunman on May 13, 1988. The couple set up camp in Michaux State Forest in Adams County when shots rang out. Wight, of Blacksburg, VA, died almost immediately. Brenner, of Ithaca, NY, survived multiple wounds. Mike George, the gunman’s attorney, claimed his client “felt rejected by women his entire life and that he became enraged when he saw the women making love, believing they were trying to taunt him.” The court sentenced the gunman to life in prison for first-degree murder.