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Local man sought in two killings caught

Spotsylvania Sheriff Roger Harris speaks at a press conference Wednesday about the apprehension of John Wesley Jeffries, whom police across the region have sought in connection with the killing of an elderly Fauquier couple.

A local man wanted in connection with a series of recent crimes—including a double homicide in Fauquier County—was apprehended Wednesday in Fredericksburg.

John Wesley Jeffries, 60, was caught at 3:50 p.m. outside the home of an acquaintance in the 2000 block of Lafayette Boulevard, police said.

Officers from several agencies had the area under surveillance as the result of a tip, Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Capt. Jeffery Pearce said.

Officers approached Jeffries when he came out of the house. Pearce said Jeffries briefly tried to run, but quickly surrendered after realizing he was surrounded.

Police have actually been looking for Jeffries since Feb. 16, when he was accused of attacking a family member at a home in Spotsylvania County. He is charged there with attempted abduction, malicious wounding and felony strangulation.

The search intensified Sunday after the bodies of Nelson Slack, 80, and his wife, Ethel Slack, 74, were found in their home on Bunker Hill Road in The Plains subdivision in northern Fauquier.

Police have not released the cause of death, but a source said the couple had severe upper body trauma and were bound and gagged when they were found.

Jeffries used to live on Bunker Hill Road in Fauquier, online records show.

The Slacks’ vehicle was later found in Wellington Woods in Fredericksburg, not far from where Jeffries was apprehended, while a vehicle associated with Jeffries was found abandoned not far from the Slack residence.

The Morningside subdivision and Lafayette Boulevard area have been the primary focus of the search since Sunday.

As of last night, the Spotsylvania charges were the only ones that had been filed against Jeffries.

He was still listed as a “person of interest” in the Fauquier slaying. It is common for persons of interest to eventually face charges.

Jeffries is also being investigated by Fredericksburg police in connection with a home-invasion larceny Saturday night in Morningside.

A 67-year-old resident who was taking out his trash was rushed by a man he’d seen standing in his backyard.

The resident hit the intruder with his oxygen machine before going to a neighbor’s and calling 911. The intruder stole money but was gone when police arrived.

Police at a press conference Wednesday at Spotsylvania Courthouse said Jeffries had a mark on his nose consistent with being hit in the face. Jeffries had also shaved off his facial hair, police said.

Spotsylvania Sheriff Roger Harris said state police also have a warrant pending against Jeffries for failing to register as a sex offender.

Court records indicate that Jeffries spent about 15 years in prison after being convicted in Loudoun County in 1985 of rape, abduction, object sexual penetration and two counts of forcible sodomy.

He also received about five months in jail in 2010 after his conviction as a habitual offender and driving while intoxicated in Spotsylvania.

He has lived in Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania and perhaps other places in recent years. Spotsylvania authorities received reports that he was staying at a home in the county as recently as a few weeks ago.

Prior to Wednesday’s arrest, area police said they had followed up on about a dozen reported possible sightings since a public lookout was broadcast Sunday.

Fredericksburg police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said most of those calls led to a local homeless man who apparently resembles Jeffries. That man has been arrested dozens of times on alcohol-related charges and was arrested again on a public intoxication charge this week following a Jeffries-related call.

Bledsoe said two other people who were checked in connection with the search were also arrested after police learned they were wanted.

Bloodhounds from the Spotsylvania and Fauquier sheriff’s offices were in the Lafayette Boulevard area Tuesday.

Pearce said the dogs started from where the car was found and tracked Jeffries’ scent to the home of the Fredericksburg man who was attacked Saturday.

Jeffries’ last known address was on Lafayette Boulevard in Fredericksburg, though it is not clear how long it has been since he lived there.

Pearce said police had been in constant communication with his estranged wife, and she told police she did not believe she is in any danger.

Jeffries was under police guard Wednesday evening at Mary Washington Hospital, where he was taken after complaining of chest pains and difficulty breathing.

He was set to be placed in the Rappahannock Regional Jail upon his release.

Authorities from Fauquier, Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg were assisted by the Virginia State Police, the U.S. Marshal’s Services’ Fugitive Taskforce and others in the successful apprehension.

Staff reporter Portsia Smith contributed to this story.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404



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