Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Jason Fairbanks (September 25, 1780 - September 10, 1801) early American murderer. Fairbanks came from a prominent family in Dedham, Massachusetts. He was the son of Ebenezer and Prudence Farrington Fairbanks. He was born with a lame arm.
He had been courting Elizabeth Fales, the daughter of Nehemiah Fales, for a long while but she would not consent to marry him. Finally on May 18, 1801, Fairbanks was determined to force her to make up her mind and met with Fales in a birch grove in Dedham.
Later, Fairbanks appeared at her parents' house covered with blood and holding a knife. He told them that their daughter had committed suicide and he had tried to do the same but was unable to.
Fairbanks's wounds were serious; he was in no shape to be taken directly to jail. He was therefore taken into the Fales household, where he received medical treatment. After Elizabeth's funeral on May 20, a jury indicted Fairbanks as an accessory to Elizabeth's death and was jailed.
In August, James Sullivan, the Republican Attorney General of Massachusetts, handled the prosecution. Harrison Gray Otis and John Lowell, Jr., two prominent Federalist lawyers, defended Fairbanks. He was found guilty of Elizabeth's murder and was sentenced to death by hanging.
Before the execution could take place Fairbanks escaped with the help of his brother, a cousin, a friend, and his nephew Nathaniel Davis. This party tried to make their way to Canada, but stopped to eat in Vermont just south of the Canadian border where Fairbanks was recaptured.
On September 10, 1801 after being brought back to Dedham from Vermont, Fairbanks was hanged.
Within two days of his execution the Report of the Trial of Jason Fairbanks was published then the entire story was written up in a pamphlet entitled A Deed of Horror! Trial of Jason Fairbanks for the Murder of His Sweetheart in 1801 and became the basis for a novel; Life of Jason Fairbanks: A Novel Founded on Fact which is believed no longer to exist.
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