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The Blue & Gray Press | June 24, 2018

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Police Look Into Student's Death

Police Look Into Student's Death

Fredericksburg police are investigating the circumstances of a 23-year-old University of Mary Washington student who was found dead in his off-campus home April 24.

Jackson Henry-Lester of Roanoke, a junior sociology major, was found unconscious by one of his housemates, according to Natatia Bledsoe, public information officer for the Fredericksburg police department.

Bledsoe said the case is being treated as an “unattended death,” which includes the possibility of homicide, suicide, natural or accidental death.

The case was initially under criminal investigation; however, the medical examiner’s office stated late yesterday that its preliminary findings led it to believe the case could be classified as a non-criminal matter, according to Bledsoe.

Fredericksburg police received a call at 5:20 a.m. on Tuesday, April 24. Two police officers were the first on the scene and attempted CPR and an Automated external defibrillator. The rescue squad soon arrived and brought Henry-Lester to the hospital.

Henry-Lester was later declared dead at an area hospital, according to Bledsoe. She did not identify the hospital.

Rachel Tippett, a junior history and historic preservation double major, is friends with one of Henry-Lester’s housemates and would occasionally spend time with Henry-Lester.

“Jackson was always a really nice guy. He was always upbeat and bubbly,” said Tippett. “He was always willing to talk; he would talk my ear off.”

The University issued an email to the faculty that provided information on the death of Henry-Lester and informed them of the available counseling center services.

President Rick Hurley commented on Henry-Lester’s death in the university email.

“The entire Mary Washington community is deeply saddened by Jackson’s death,” said Hurley. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

This is the first death of a student at UMW since Preston James Hirten died due to a heart condition on the soccer field during practice on Aug. 18, 2009.

Alison Thoet, Alex Van Beek and Thomas Bowman contributed to this report.

Editor’s Note:  The Bullet encourages Henry-Lester’s friends to post any memories and what his life meant to them  in the comments below.


  1. Ford Torney

    It’s sad that we’ve recently become so caught up in our petty arguments that more people don’t know about this.

    Bullet staff: if there’s any word of anything we as UMW students can do for his friends and family, please let us know. He was a member of our family, and we should help in anyway we can.

  2. G Mehra

    When did President Hurley send an email informing us about the death? I found out via Facebook and The Bullet

  3. Dr. H

    A campus-wide email was sent by Anna Billingsley (Associate VP of University Relations) shortly before 3:30 pm on Tuesday. This email contained the above-mentioned Hurley quote.

  4. Lj

    I never received it either.

  5. Tara Taylor

    Death is nothing at all,
    I have only slipped away into the next room,
    Whatever we were to each other, we are still,
    Call me by my old familiar name,
    Speak to me in the same easy way we always did,
    Put no difference into your tone;
    Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
    Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
    Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
    Let my name be the household word that it always was.
    Let it be spoken without effect, without the shadow of a ghost on it.
    Life means all that it ever meant.
    It is the same as it ever was; there is absolutely unbroken continuity,
    Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
    I am just waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.
    All is well.
    I love you Jackson! You will be missed more than you could have ever known.