Last Updated on October 18, 2023 2:58 pm
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Whittier, N.C., man arrested on a federal complaint for attempted kidnapping on the Blue Ridge Parkway has been formally charged by a grand jury in Charlotte, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. The indictment charges Evan William Blankenship, 22, with kidnapping, two counts of assault with intent to commit a felony, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm, and possession and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Debra A. Flowers, Acting Chief Ranger of the Blue Ridge Parkway, joins U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.
According to allegations in the indictment and information contained in the affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, in the early morning hours of September 28, 2023, L.P. and a second victim, L.M., were sitting in a parked vehicle at Water Rock Knob Overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The affidavit alleges that Blankenship drove his vehicle to where the victims were located and pointed a semi-automatic pistol at them. Blankenship tried to pull L.P. out of the vehicle by the hair and arm. Over the course of the incident, Blankenship allegedly threatened to hurt both victims, and hit L.P. in the face causing her temporary hearing loss. Blankenship also allegedly fired his firearm into the air, before pointing it again at the victims.
According to allegations in the affidavit, L.M. eventually convinced Blankenship to let them go. Shortly thereafter, the victims reported the incident to law enforcement. L.P. told investigators that she knew Blankenship through Snapchat and believed Blankenship had used Snapchat’s location sharing feature to find her on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Blankenship was arrested on October 11, 2023, and remains in federal custody. The charge of kidnapping carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Each assault charge carries a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison. The charge of possession and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence carries a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. The actual sentence of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the federal sentencing guidelines and other applicable statutory factors.
The charges against Blankenship are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King thanked the National Park Service for the investigation which led to the charges and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance with the case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville is prosecuting the case.