News Release Date: June 18, 2018
Contact: NPS Investigative Services Branch, (202) 379-4761
Following an interagency investigation by Special Agents with the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch (ISB), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Cherokee Indian Police Department, a second man will serve time in prison for his role in a 2015 homicide within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Johnathan Hill, age 25, was recently sentenced to 48 months incarceration followed by two years of supervised release.
Court documents show that on March 29, 2015, a 911 call alerted officers to a stabbing that had taken place inside Oconaluftee (Smokemont) Baptist Church inside the park. Paramedics found the deceased victim with multiple stab wounds. Records also show that Johnathan Hill, Forrest Dakota Hill (no relation), and the victim drove to the church together, and over the course of their visit, Forrest Hill stabbed the victim with a knife during an unprovoked attack, causing the victim’s death. Investigators determined that the victim was stabbed at least 16 times in the chest, back, neck and elsewhere. Court records list the cause of death as “internal hemorrhage due to multiple stab wounds.”
Following the fatal stabbing, Johnathan Hill and Forrest Hill drove away from the church. Along the way to the home of Johnathan Hill’s relatives, he threw the knife handle believed to have been used in the attack out the car window. After arriving at the relatives’ home, both men burned the clothes they wore during the stabbing.
Forrest Hill pleaded guilty to second degree murder in April 2016 and was sentenced to more than 16 years imprisonment. Johnathan Hill pleaded guilty at a separate court hearing in December 2017 to a charge of accessory after the fact to second degree murder; his sentence was handed down in June 2018. The case was prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office and adjudicated by the US District Court, both for the Western District of North Carolina.
ISB: the Investigative Services Branch of the National Park Service