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Capital murder charge coming?

RELATED: See more crime news from the Fredericksburg region

RELATED: Read more CRIME stories from the Fredericksburg region.


Fauquier County authorities are moving toward a capital murder charge against a suspect in a double homicide last month, court records indicate.

John Wesley Jeffries, 59, was arrested in Fredericksburg Feb. 27 following a manhunt that began after the slain bodies of Nelson and Ethel Slack were discovered three days earlier at their home in northern Fauquier.

As of Wednesday, Jeffries’ only pending charges were in Spotsylvania County. He is charged there with offenses involving a family member that include attempted abduction and malicious wounding. Court hearings in Spotsylvania are April 1 and April 3.

A search warrant filed in Spotsylvania Circuit Court shows that Fauquier authorities are looking into a far more serious capital murder charge against Jeffries.

Anyone convicted of capital murder can receive only two possible sentences—death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Nelson Slack, 80, and his wife, Ethel Slack, 74, were found in their home on Bunker Hill Road in The Plains. Police were contacted after relatives and friends became concerned about not hearing from them for several days.

According to an affidavit for a search warrant filed by Fauquier detective C.A. Ashby, the Slacks were the victims of a “violent attack” that included a significant loss of blood.

The search warrant allowed police to obtain DNA from Jeffries’ mouth and his clothing so it could be compared to “forensic evidence at the crime scene that would have been handled or deposited by the perpetrator.”

The affidavit states that “implements and biological material” related to the slayings were left behind and likely have the killer’s DNA on them.

Ashby’s affidavit states that Jeffries knew the victims and had previously done work on the plumbing in their home. He told police that the Slacks owed him money, court records state.

The investigation showed that on Feb. 21, three days before the bodies were found, Jeffries abandoned a vehicle that belonged to his wife about a quarter-mile from the Slack residence.

The Slacks’ vehicle was taken the next morning, the affidavit states, and Jeffries was seen driving it in Fredericksburg a few hours later.

The vehicle was later recovered in Wellington Woods in Fredericksburg.

When Jeffries was arrested, court records state, he told police he was still wearing the clothes he’d had on five days earlier. He also had a Ford ignition key that matched the car stolen from the Slacks.

Jeffries is also being investigated by Fredericksburg police in connection with a home-invasion larceny Feb. 23 in Morningside subdivision involving a 67-year-old resident.

No charges had been filed in that case as of Wednesday.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404

kepps@freelancestar.com

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