Search Launched At Great Smoky Mountains National Park For Fugitive

James Quilliams, who is wanted on a murder warrant issued in Florida, was thought to be in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Wednesday. NPS handout.

A search was under way in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Wednesday for a Tennessee man wanted on a first-degree murder charge in Florida.

Park officials said James Quilliams, 40, of Sevierville, Tennessee, was wanted by authorities in Pinellas County, Florida. In a release they said investigators believe the fugitive might have been dropped off near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, early Wednesday morning by a female companion who was arrested for a DUI at 6:45 a.m. by Pigeon Forge Police Department. Pigeon Forge officers alerted area law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for Mr. Quilliams at approximately 9 a.m.

Rangers have received several reports of an individual in the Sugarlands area who possibly matched the description provided by Pigeon Forge Police Department. More than a dozen park rangers were searching area trails and roads for Mr. Quilliams, who was believed to be on foot.

Park officials said the fugitive was not considered to pose a risk to the general public or park employees. However, they said visitors should not pick up any hitchhikers and should continue to exercise caution in the area.

If you see anyone matching the description of Mr. Quilliams, you should report it immediately to local law enforcement agencies. Park rangers are working in coordination with Pigeon Forge Police Department, Gatlinburg Police Department, Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, and Pinellas County Sherriff’s Office.

Mr. Quilliams is described as 6-foot-2 in height, weighing 215 pounds, with short gray hair and a goatee. He was believd to be wearing a black trench coat, black dress pants, and tennis shoes.