UPDATE: Caution urged as manhunt continues
Police say Jeffries has been seen recently, clean shaven and possibly wearing a Redskins hat. Authorities urge residents not to approach Jeffries, but instead to call police with any information.
RELATED: Read more CRIME stories from the Fredericksburg region.
A man wanted for questioning in connection with a double homicide in Fauquier County that was discovered Sunday may have been involved in a physical confrontation with a Fredericksburg man the night before, police said.
John Wesley Jeffries, 60, has been labeled a “person of interest” in the Fauquier case and is also wanted in Spotsylvania County in connection with a Feb. 16 incident involving a family member. He is charged in Spotsylvania with attempted abduction, malicious wounding and felony strangulation, Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Pearce said.
Fredericksburg police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said a 67-year-old city man was taking out the trash about 9:30 p.m. Saturday when he noticed a man in his backyard in the 200 block of Morningside Drive. The resident, who uses an oxygen tank for medical reasons, yelled out to the man in his yard.
The intruder came at the resident and pushed him back into the kitchen area of his home. The resident responded by hitting the man in the head with his hand-held oxygen machine, which Bledsoe said is about the size of a small briefcase. The blow caused the intruder to stumble further into the resident’s home. The resident went across the street to a neighbor’s home and called 911. The man was gone by the time police arrived, and several hundred dollars in cash was missing.
Bledsoe said police have reason to believe that the person in the Morningside Drive incident is the same person currently wanted in Fauquier and Spotsylvania. Jeffries’ last known address was on nearby Lafayette Boulevard in Fredericksburg, though it is not clear how long it has been since he lived there.
Fauquier Sheriff’s Lt. James Hartman said Jeffries has family ties to the neighborhood where the double slaying occurred. Nelson Slack, 80, and his wife, Ethel Slack, 74, were found dead in their home Sunday on Bunker Hill Road in The Plains area. Hartman said police were called after the longtime area residents failed to show up for church as expected.
A car that police said was known to be associated with Jeffries was found about a half-mile from the Slacks’ home. The Slacks’ car was later found in Fredericksburg near Jeffries’ last known address.
Court records indicate that Jeffries spent about 13 years in prison after being convicted in Loudoun County in 1985 of rape, abduction, object sexual penetration and two counts of forcible sodomy. He received about five months in jail in 2010 after being convicted of being a habitual offender and driving while intoxicated in Spotsylvania in 2010. The Virginia State Police sex offender registry also included Nelson Slack. He was convicted in Fauquier Circuit Court in February 2007 of indecent liberties with a child by custodian.
Police could not be reached for comment on Slack’s sex offender status or whether he and Jeffries knew each other.
Bledsoe said finding Jeffries is a high priority for city police, especially since it appears he may be somewhere in the city. He is described as being about 5 feet 8 inches tall and 194 pounds and may have a gash on his head. He may be wearing a dark blue sweatshirt and jeans.
Bledsoe said police are getting tips from the public and are following up on each one. Anyone who sees Jeffries, who is considered armed and dangerous, is asked to call 911.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404