Melvin David Rees, the serial killer nicknamed “The Sex Beast”

Rees was tried in February 1961 for the murder of Margaret Harold and in September 1961 for the Jackson family murders.

Photo: Larry W. Smith/Getty Images

Margaret Harold was shot to death while out for a walk with her boyfriend near Annapolis, Maryland, on June 26, 1957. The criminal swerved in front of the couple’s car, approached with a .38 revolver, and shot Harold in the side of the car. face, while her boyfriend managed to escape.

Police investigating found an abandoned building nearby, littered with pornographic images, but its full meaning would not be revealed until nearly two years later.

Early in 1959, the jackson family was driving down a dirt road in Virginia on their way home when they were pulled over and kidnapped at gunpoint.

Two months later, two men found the bodies of Carroll Jackson and his one-year-old daughter, Janet, dumped in a remote area of ​​Fredericksburg, Virginia

Shortly after, Mildred Jackson and her daughter Susan, age fivewere found buried in a shallow grave, just outside the abandoned building that the police had discovered when investigating Harold’s murder.

Mildred had been brutally raped in the same room where the pornographic images had been found two years earlier.. Since investigators were reasonably certain that the same killer had committed the crimes, the media jumped on the story.

The information began to arrive, and although most of it was worthless, one pointed authorities toward Melvin Rees.

Rees was eventually found in West Memphis, working as a piano salesman. Margaret Harold’s boyfriend picked him out of a lineup and a search of his home turned up a .38 pistol.

The most damning evidence, however, was a note clipped to a newspaper article on Mildred Jackson in which Rees described her horrific crimes in detail.

Detectives also found evidence linking Rees to the murders of four other young women in the Maryland areaalthough he was never convicted in those cases.

Rees was tried in February 1961 for the murder of Margaret Harold and in September 1961 for the Jackson family murders; he was found guilty of both and sentenced to death.

His sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1972, and he died in prison of heart failure in 1995.

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