The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
LOCAL HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS
COMMUTERS CLIMB ON BOARD IN THE ’BURG
The Virginia Railway Express rolled out of Fredericksburg’s train station before sunrise July 20, 1992, with its first load of Washington-bound customers. By morning’s end, the commuter line’s four trains had carried about 920 passengers to their jobs in the capital region—which was about 170 more than projected.
On the trains, passengers raved about the relaxing ride and jokingly complained about missing the fury of Interstate 95.
One city resident said he would be a regular rider. “I got an hour’s more sleep, and there’s no comparison [to I–95].”
According to its website, VRE provides commuter rail service from the Northern Virginia suburbs to Alexandria, Crystal City and downtown Washington, along the I–66 and I–95 corridors. In 1992, there were 16 trains from 16 stations that carried, on average, 5,800 passengers daily. Now, VRE operates 30 trains from 18 stations and carry, on average, 20,000 passengers daily.
DEFENSE MOTION FAILS IN MURDER TRIAL IN SPOTSY
On July 17, 1961, a Spotsylvania County Circuit Court judge turned down defense efforts to move the murder trial of Melvin Davis Rees Jr. out of the county.
Rees was accused of killing all four members of the Carroll Jackson family of Louisa County. He entered a plea of “absolutely not guilty” to the charge of killing 29-year-old Carroll V. Jackson Jr. in Spotsylvania on Jan. 11, 1959.
In July 1961, he had already been sentenced to life in prison in Maryland for kidnapping and slaying. He later would be sentenced to death after a two-week trial in Spotsylvania. It was commuted to life in prison in 1972.
He publicly confessed to killing the Jackson family—Carrol Jackson and his wife, Mildred; and two daughters, ages 18 months and 5—in 1985, when he was a mental patient–prisoner at a federal prison in Springfield, Mo.
Rees, who also killed a Maryland woman in 1957, died in prison in 1995.
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