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James Jordan, 30, had a competency hearing Wednesday at the US District Court in Abingdon, Va., where tests concluded that he was not mentally fit for trial.
James Jordan, 30, had a competency hearing Wednesday at the US District Court in Abingdon, Va., where tests concluded that he was not mentally fit for trial. David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier via Associated Press/Bristol Herald Courier via AP

The West Yarmouth man who was charged with allegedly stabbing one hiker to death and severely wounding another along the Appalachian Trail in Virginia earlier this year has been found not mentally competent to stand trial, according to a Wednesday court filing.

James L. Jordan will be taken to a federal facility “to be restored to competency,” according to a federal judge’s finding.

In May, Jordan, 30, was charged with one count of murder and one count of assault with intent to murder.

Authorities have said Jordan was playing guitar and singing when he approached his victims May 10. Later that night, he stood outside their tents and threatened to pour gasoline on them and burn them to death, according to court records.


Fearing for their lives, the hikers — four in all — started to pack up and leave. But Jordan allegedly approached them with a knife and chased two of them away, authorities said.

When he returned to the campsite, two hikers were still there. Jordan argued with one of them and stabbed him repeatedly, killing him, according to court records. The man was later identified as Ronald S. Sanchez Jr., 43, of Oklahoma.

Jordan then allegedly chased the other until she tired out and raised up her arms to surrender.

Jordan allegedly stabbed her, as well, severely wounding her, authorities said.

She escaped, authorities said, by lying on the ground and playing dead, and then hiked 6 miles through the night with the help of another couple, who called 911.

The brutal slaying in southwestern Virginia sent waves of fear coursing through the close-knit community of Appalachian Trail hikers who had been raising alarms that just such an attack might be imminent.

Jordan had been arrested in April, then released on probation. He has a history of arrests for unstable and erratic behavior, including an attack on staff at Cape Cod Hospital in 2013.


Attempts to reach Jordan’s attorney were not successful Wednesday evening.

In May, a judge ordered that Jordan be detained for “psychological or psychiatric examination.” According to that order, the person examining his mental condition would report to the court on whether Jordan is suffering from a “mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or assist properly in his defense.”

The examiner was also charged with reporting whether he may have suffered from a mental condition at the time of the alleged offense, and whether he lacked “substantial capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct,” according to the judge’s order.

Previous Globe coverage was used in this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.