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Appalachian Trail Victim Was a Veteran Using the Outdoors to Cope With PTSD

Details have emerged after the family of the Appalachian Trail victim have spoken publicly.

The victim of the horrific Appalachian Trail attack over the weekend has been identified as Ronald Sanchez, an Army veteran from Oklahoma who spent time outdoors dealing with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. His identity was released by the FBI's Richmond Division and the US Attorney for the Western District of Virginia.

In an interview with CNN, Sanchez's sister, Brenda Sanchez Loera, said "He was adventurous and he got out of his shell and we were so proud of that because for a while he was in darkness." Ronald Sanchez died of stab wounds suffered at the hands of James Jordan, who has been charged with murder and assault with intent to murder after a deadly interaction on the famous interstate trail.

Sanchez's body was found early Saturday in Wythe County, Virginia. A female hiker was able to escape after being stabbed by Jordan as well, and two others on the trail verified his threats after altercations of their own, according to court documents.

Sanchez's sister and former wife, Elizabeth Kordek, said that the veteran had sustained injuries to his back and knees, adding difficulty to his mental health sustainability as he dealt with PTSD and depression.

"He was in a cycling group, he was showing horses, and on a dragon (boat racing) team and these were all out of his comfort zone because he was a really shy guy. To survive those deployments in Iraq and to die like this is just devastating," said Kordek.

Brenda Sanchez grew up with her brother in Garden Grove, California. "He was loving, kindhearted," she said. "He was always there for me, even though we were miles apart... He was a proud man. He loved people."

An October, 2018 article in The Oklahoman noted Sanchez as part of a veteran bicycling group, and said he he served 16 years in the Army, including three tours of deployment in Iraq, before being discharged in 2011 with PTSD and major depression.

Jordan, the WEst Yarmouth, Massachusetts man arrested for the murder, is known to some on the AT as "Sovereign" and has a checkered history with the law. As of Monday, he was ordered detained pending a psychiatric evaluation.

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Appalachian Trail Victim Was a Veteran Using the Outdoors to Cope With PTSD