Stay in the know! Sign up to get Fauquier County news updates delivered to your inbox.
Advertise on Fauquier Now!
FauquierNow.com
Should Virginia ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment? Vote!
HOME OBITUARIES NEWS HOME & GARDEN OPINIONS BUSINESS STYLE CALENDAR CLASSIFIEDS
Free classifieds! Members can also post calendar events, news, opinions and more ... all for free! Register now!
Login · Forgot Your Password?
February 25, 2016

“Swinger” ads connected victim and alleged killer

Photo/Cassandra Brown
Deputies escort Mark Harlan Hayes back to jail Thursday after his preliminary hearing in Fauquier County General District Court.
A workman found Dow Williamson’s bloody body, rolled up in a rug, at his Opal home the morning of Oct. 23.
My dad asked if he knew him, remembered him. He said he shot three or four times and rolled him up in the carpet and left.
— Amber Ellington, the defendant’s daughter
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Editor
A 51-year-old Opal man last year posted Craigslist ads seeking sexual encounters, which ultimately led to his October murder, according to testimony Thursday in Fauquier County General District Court.

Sheriff’s detectives in December charged Mark Harlan Hayes, 50, of Amelia Courthouse, with the murder of Dow A. Williamson.

Mr. Hayes allegedly drove to Fauquier, where he shot and killed Mr. Williamson in his home at 10409 Lees Mill Road on Thursday, Oct. 22.

The defendant early last year responded to Mr. Williamson’s online ads and set up sexual encounters for his wife, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney James P. Fisher.

“My mother was not sexually satisfied with him,” Amber Ellington, 24, testified Thursday about her father.

So, Mr. Hayes used “swinger” ads online to find sex partners for his wife, Mrs. Ellington said, recounting an August conversation with her father.

“He was gonna . . . make sure it was the right way and she was protected,” Mrs. Ellington said of her parents.

The daughter learned of that arrangement months after her parents, apparently happily married for 25 years, separated in May, Mrs. Ellington testified. She went to her father’s home in August to get his side of the story, the daughter said.

She described her father as “depressed, sad” after the separation but said she knew none of the details until August.

Sometime last year, her mother went with Mr. Williamson to New York, where they met with other swingers, Mrs. Ellington testified.

“She went to dinner with him. Other individuals showed up and they were gonna go back to the hotel together,” the daughter added. “Something happened and my mother wanted to leave. She called Dad. He got on the phone with Dow and said, ‘Put her on a plane.’

“Dad left work at night and picked her up in Baltimore . . . . Something happened (in New York) that she didn’t like.”

Thursday’s preliminary hearing testimony provided little information about what happened in the months before Mr. Williamson’s murder.

Gregory Wilson discovered his body around 10:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 23.

Mr. Wilson testified that he and another man had worked at the victim’s house, remodeling the master bathroom, for about a week.

That Friday, the workmen as usual entered an unlocked door from the deck to the master bedroom to get started, Mr. Wilson said. The client, a computer security specialist, often worked in his home office, and his wife had left on a business trip, he added.

After running out of plumbing supplies 90 minutes into the morning, he went to find Mr. Williamson, whom the workmen had not seen that day.

“I saw him laying on the office floor, partially covered by a rug. Lot of blood,” Mr. Wilson said.

He called 9-1-1.

State police and Fauquier sheriff’s detectives launched a hunt for the killer.

On Dec. 10, authorities got a lead.

The defendant, Mr. Hayes drove to his daughter’s home in Nottoway County and confessed to her, she testified.

“I came home after work, from the grocery store, and my dad was at my house,” Mrs. Ellington said. “He appeared to be upset and sad, wanted to talk . . . .

“He said he wanted me to know that he always tried to be a good father, husband and man, that he wanted me to know he would probably be going to prison, because he had killed someone.”

Mrs. Ellington said she started crying and described herself as “in shock.”

She continued: “He said he had killed a man that my mother had been involved with . . . . He drove up to Northern Virginia. He said he knocked on the front door; the man came to the door on his phone and opened the door.

“My dad asked if he knew him, remembered him. He said he shot three or four times and rolled him up in the carpet and left.”

Mrs. Ellington’s husband called her mother, who confirmed Dow Williamson’s death.

Mrs. Ellington testified she went online to read everything she could find about the murder and called police.

Authorities arrested Mr. Hayes.

The defendant’s father, Harlan Hayes testified that he purchased a handgun from his son last fall but could not remember exactly when.

“I was trying to get the gun away from Mark because he had shown a lot of signs of (being) suicidal,” the elder Mr. Hayes said on the witness stand.

He turned the gun over to investigators soon after his son’s arrest.

But, lab tests found none of the defendant’s DNA on the gun, Fauquier sheriff’s Detective Michael Zeets testified.

Mr. Zeets said he obtained a search warrant for emails between the defendant and the victim. Their last email exchange took place Feb. 13, 2015, the detective said.

“The evidence at this point is overwhelming,” Mr. Fisher told Judge J. Gregory Ashwell near the end of the 70-minute hearing.

The prosecution needed to present only enough evidence to establish probable cause that Mr. Hayes murdered Mr. Williamson.

Judge Ashwell found the prosecution met that burden. He sent the case to Fauquier County Circuit Court, where a grand jury will consider indictments March 28.

Mr. Hayes faces murder and firearms charges. He remains in jail.
Member comments
Please, be polite. Avoid name-calling and profanity.
For credibility, sign your real name; stand behind your comments. Readers will give less credence to anonymous posts.
To comment, please log in or register.
Billy S · February 27, 2016 at 11:31 am
Very informative article. Very shocking for our small neighborhood!
BJ · February 25, 2016 at 6:27 pm
Time to move.
Facebook comments
Enter your email address above to begin receiving
news updates from FauquierNow.com via email.
Saturday, January 19
Exterior light with motion-sensor alerts Cedar Lane resident, who saw man in his vehicle at 2 a.m.
Friday, January 18
Potential traffic and neighborhood impact cited in 5-0 vote against granting special exception permit
Friday, January 18
Shovels and sleds sold, a huge court file, education association membership and planned school budget increase
More Fauquier news
© Copyright 2011-2018

50 Culpeper Street, Suite 3
Warrenton, Virginia 20187
540.359.6574
Crime Log
Obituaries
Business
Add Your News
The Big Picture
Ellen’s Kitchen
and Garden

Features
Real Estate
For Sale
Employment
Automotive
Announcements
Legal Notices
Post an Ad
Advertise
Terms of Service