Drifter suspected in more murders

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February 4, 2008

BREVARD, N.C.---A body found in western North Carolina has been identified as a missing hiker who may be the victim of the man who pleaded guilty last week to killing another hiker in north Georgia.

Transylvania County, N.C. Sheriff David Mahoney has identified the skeletal remains as those of 80-year-old John Bryant. He disappeared in October while hikiing with his wife in the Pisgah National Forest. Irene Bryant's body was found near a trail in November.

Mahoney says he thinks 61-year old Gary Michael Hilton is responsible for the deaths.

Hilton has been sentenced to life in prison in Georgia, with a chance at parole after 30 years, in the death and decapitation of Meredith Emerson. She disappeared New Year's Day.

Police are also looking at Hilton as a possible suspect in another death in Florida.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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