May 18- A Tragic Anniversary
May 18, 1801- Nehemiah Fales is startled by the sight of 20 year old Jason Fairbanks running toward the Fales home in the present day Cedar St./Turner St. area of town. Jason is bleeding profusely from various wounds and claiming that Elizabeth, Fales’ 18 year old daughter has killed herself in a nearby thicket of birch trees called Mason’s Pasture. Nehemiah and his brother Samuel run to the spot where they find Betsey lying on the ground, her life ebbing away from severe stab wounds to her chest, arm, back and hands. She dies shortly after her distraught mother arrives at the scene.
Jason Fairbanks is so severely wounded himself that he can not be removed from the Fales home until a few days later, when he is carried across town on a litter, past the family home on East St. to the Dedham Jail, where he is held for the murder of Betsey.
The trial of Jason Fairbanks began on August 4th of that year. Jason’s lawyers tried to prove that his weakened condition and withered arm made it impossible for him to have inflicted the numerous and violent wounds on Betsey, and that she had killed herself in a fit of romantic despair. The prosecution contended that these same wounds could not have been self-inflicted, and that Jason murdered Betsey in a rage when she spurned his attentions. Jason was found guilty on August 8th and sentenced to be hanged. But a group of his friends had other plans. TO BE CONTINUED…