Jason Fairbanks

Jason Fairbanks

American criminal
Date of Birth: 25.09.1780
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Jason Fairbanks
  2. A Fatal Love Story
  3. The Trial and Escape
  4. The Legacy

Biography of Jason Fairbanks

Jason Fairbanks, an American criminal, was executed for the murder of his beloved more than two hundred years ago. He was born on September 25, 1780, in Dedham, Massachusetts, to Ebenezer Fairbanks and Prudence Farrington Fairbanks. Coming from a wealthy and influential family, he grew up in the Fairbanks House, the oldest surviving timber frame house in the United States, built by his ancestor Jonathan Fairbanks between 1637 and 1641, nearly a century and a half before Jason's birth. One of Jason's distant relatives, Charles Fairbanks, would later become the Vice President of the United States.

A Fatal Love Story

Jason was born with a deformed hand. He courted a girl named Elizabeth Fales, the daughter of Nehemiah Fales, who did not wish to marry him. Determined to change her mind, on May 18, 1801, Jason arranged to meet her in a birch grove near Mason's pasture, although the exact location of this place in present-day Dedham is unknown. Apparently, Jason's arguments were not as persuasive as he thought, because he later appeared at the Fales' house, covered in blood and holding a knife. He told Elizabeth's family that she had committed suicide, and he had attempted to do the same but failed. However, no one believed the clumsy lover's words as Elizabeth's body had been found with eleven knife wounds, including one on her back.

The Trial and Escape

Elizabeth Fales was buried on May 20, while Jason's wounds were too severe to be taken to prison. Therefore, he was kept in the Fales' house, where he received medical care. The preliminary inquiry into Jason's case lasted three days, and on August 8, 1801, he was found guilty of Elizabeth's murder and sentenced to death by hanging. James Sullivan, the Attorney General of Massachusetts, led the prosecution, while Harrison Gray Otis and John Lowell, Jr., two well-known lawyers, defended Fairbanks. Despite their efforts, Jason's guilt was established, and he was sent to prison.

Before his sentence could be carried out, Fairbanks escaped from prison with the help of his brother, nephew, cousin, and a friend. A reward of $1000 was offered for his capture, and newspaper headlines screamed, "Stop the Killer!" The members of the "rescue expedition" headed to Canada but stopped to eat in Skenesboro, known today as Whitehall, New York, just south of the Canadian border, where Fairbanks was recaptured. Having lost trust in Dedham's prison, authorities transported Jason to Boston. On September 10, 1801, two weeks before his 21st birthday, Fairbanks was hanged in front of a massive crowd. To prevent another escape, two squadrons of cavalry and volunteer militia were present, as the 10,000 spectators who gathered to witness the execution outnumbered the city's population fivefold.

The Legacy

Two days after the execution, a report on Jason Fairbanks' case was published. This story later formed the basis of a chilling pamphlet titled "A Deed of Horror! Trial of Jason Fairbanks for the Murder of His Sweetheart in 1801." The pamphlet, in turn, inspired the novel "The Life of Jason Fairbanks: A Novel Founded on Fact," which seems to have been lost to history.