Gary Hilton Pleads Guilty to Murders of John and Irene Bryant

on March 28, 2012 in Serial Killers by

As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, Gary Hilton pleaded guilty Tuesday to the murders of John and Irene Bryant in 2007. He will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

When announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said:

Our hearts go out to the Bryant family. No action by the criminal justice system can soothe the pain they must live with because of the actions of Gary Hilton. This is a just outcome, reached after consideration of all the facts and circumstances of this case. We trust that the fact that Mr. Hilton will spend the rest of his life in a prison, locked away from all civilized society, will bring some closure, if not comfort, to the Bryant family.

Robert Bryant, the son of the victims, said:

He should have been put to death a long time ago. If ever there was a crime that deserved the death penalty, this was it. The practical outcome of this is that Hilton will suffer no additional penalties for the murders of John and Irene Bryant. These two are freebies, and that will bother me until the day I die.

In the hearing, which lasted a little more than an hour, Hilton admitted to attacking the Bryants as they were hiking in the Pink Beds area of Pisgah National Forest in Transylvania County on Oct. 21, 2007.

Irene Bryant, 84, was killed on the spot. An autopsy showed she died of multiple blows to the head, and that her right forearm was severed.

Hilton told the court that he took John Bryant, 80, to the Nantahala National Forest. After forcing John to reveal his ATM PIN, Hilton shot John in the head, and dumped his body down a bank off a U.S. Forest Service road.

Hilton reportedly offered no explanation of his motives, and showed no remorse for his actions.

Hiton was previously sentenced to death for the murder of a nurse in Florida, and given life in prison for the murder of a hiker in Georgia.


  • Gloria Tucker says:

    My cousin, Cheryl Dunlap, was also murdered and decapitated by Gary Michael Hilton. I feel that North Carolina was lax in accepting the plea by Hilton. I feel he should have received the death penalty. Although he did receive the death penalty in Florida for my cousin’s murder, I feel the Bryant family is justified in feeling that the murders of their parents are like a “freebie” for Hilton. The only “punishment” he has received is being taken off death row in Florida and escorted to North Carolina. As long as he reveals victims’ names, he will postpone the death penalty in Florida. I wrote a book entitled, “Victimized By A Serial Killer” which details his trial for my cousin’s murder. We are all victims of monsters like Hilton who know how to manipulate the system for their own advantages.

    • Cheryl Burchell says:

      I just finished watching NBC’s Dateline and learning about the horrific acts carried out by Gary Hilton. Next I went online to see if I could find out if the death penalty had been carried out yet in Florida. Came across your comment and felt compelled to contact you. First and foremost, my sincerest condolences to you and all of Cheryl’s family and friends. Secondly, can you tell me if he is incarcerated in Florida and will they carry out the death penalty? In cases where there is absolutely no doubt of the responsibility of the defendant’s guilt, I very much feel the death penalty is just. This comes from Nova Scotia, Canada. Dateline is very popular up here and I assure you that many across this great country feel as I do. Hope I’ll hear back from you.

      • Gloria Tucker says:

        Gary Michael Hilton is housed in the Florida State Prison. His prisoner number is 133897. You can go to and click on Offender Search. You can then click on Inmate Population and do an information search by typing in his name. He has already had his first appeal to the Florida Supreme Court and the guilty verdict was affirmed by the justices. He is now in the process of his second set of appeals which go back to the State Courts. He will try to show some sort of error by the judge or his attorney. At the moment, he has claimed he is not able to continue with the appeals process because of mental incompetency. I think a lot of death row inmates try that. It will probably take another couple of years for this set of appeals. Then he will have another appeal open to him where he will go back to the Supreme Court. All of these appeals could take another 7 years or so. Then he will sit on death row until the governor signs a death warrant. Some governors allow the inmates to sit a long time and some try to sign as many death warrants as possible.

  • P.M says:

    Couple of years prior to the murders of John and Irene Bryant, a friend of mine and I were hiking in North Georgia Mountains at Dukes Creek Falls. I was walking behind my friend deep down in the National Forest when out of no where Gary Hilton is behind me. My friend and I decided to stop and sit down. Gary Hiton sat down beside me on a single rock. I told him “we’re going to sit down and rest”. Gary Hilton stated “I’m going to sit down too”. He had another male with him who appeared to be younger. I noticed Gary Hilton was wearing a red fleece pullover. My friend and I got up to continued our hiking and Gary Hilton also got up. I asked Gary Hilton “where is your friend” and he pointed to a very large boulder high up and a good distance and said “there he is” and his friend waved to us. I thought this was odd and how could he have made it up that boulder so quick. My friend and I are photographers and were there to photograph the falls. We finally arrived at the area above the falls to photograph down from the large boulder where we were standing on. We took only two or three photographs and I heard a voice from within me saying “Leave”. My friend later told me he also heard the same telling him to leave. As I jumped over some water on the boulder, I looked over my left should and could see Gary Hilton crouched down behind a large rock. We were making our way out of there as fast as we could never looking back. By the time we got to the car it was getting dark around 5pm. I have never been back there since and wonder what happened to the other guy that was with Gary Hilton.

    • Stacie Allison says:

      That’s so scary pm! I’m thankful you followed your gut and God protected you. I got chills just reading tour story. Wow!

  • Rick says:

    What you don’t understand is life in prison with no parole IS A DEATH SENTENCE. Both result in you dying in prison, except you get to suffer a while longer before you die. I’d much rather die than be in prison for years….then die there anyway.
    Anyway, the priority should have been the victims families’ wishes. If they wanted the deal to recover the bodies of their loved ones who is anyone else to contradict them? If they would rather have him killed – so be it, then don’t make the deal.

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