Retired police officer Daniel Courtney goes through items in the basement… (Shamus Ian Fatzinger/Fairfax…)
In February 1949, long before there was a Reston, there was a double homicide in the Green Forest nudist colony, which, today, is where the Reston South Park and Ride commuter parking lot sits at Reston Parkway and Lawyers Road.
In a Fairfax County Police Department museum being constructed by a group of retired police officers, it is noted that Charles Holober of the District later confessed to shooting his wife and burying his infant daughter alive there.
Dubbed the “laughing killer” by the media because of his apparent lack of remorse, Holober was declared insane and remanded to the Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute in Marion for the rest of his life.
Dwight Lee Hubbard, 76, of Fairfax Station remembers the incident.
“I was just a kid of 13, but it was all over the newspapers, and the story was even later published in Crime Detective magazine,” he said.
The killings stuck with Hubbard, who graduated from Fairfax High School in 1954 and joined the Fairfax County Police Department in 1956 after training with the FBI as a fingerprint examiner.
Hubbard retired as a lieutenant in 1979 and today is part of a small group that soon will open a Fairfax County police museum dedicated to the department, which was created in July 1940.
Hubbard, along with 2nd Lt. Daniel Courtney, civilian volunteer Daniel Cronin, and Capts. Paul Puff and Eddie Wingo, have accumulated memorabilia since 2006. They have stored the items inside two first-floor rooms within police headquarters in Fairfax.
Wingo died in 2008, and the others estimate they now are only months away from being able to schedule public viewings of the artifacts, including the front page of the Feb. 28, 1949, Times Herald newspaper showing Holober being booked on murder.
Other items include thousands of photos, vintage police uniforms, firearms, patches, radar guns, polygraph equipment and the tail of a police helicopter that flew on a 9/11 mission in 2001.
“One of the personal items that I donated is a [late 1940s] nightstick that contains a tear-gas canister inside it,” Hubbard said. “You wouldn’t be allowed to use something like that today.”
Courtney, a 27-year veteran, said a more public version of the museum eventually will be set up in a newly proposed police headquarters, which is still many years from being built. The museum’s current incarnation is being funded by sales of Courtney’s 219-page book, “History of the Fairfax County Police Department, 1921-1990.” The book sells for about $50 and Courtney estimated that nearly 2,000 have been sold.
“Both the book and the museum project was a group effort,” he said. “We all have a great general interest in history, and particularly law enforcement history. There so far has not been a comprehensive effort to preserve the history of the Fairfax County Police Department, so we set out to do it.”
In doing so, Courtney said throughout the years he and the group were able to meet with dozens of retired officers and their families, who recalled hundreds of stories, and donated or loaned many items to the project.
“One of the most interesting items to me is called a ‘pen register’ that reportedly came from the CIA and aided police detectives in tapping phone lines,” he said.
The register is a black box with dials and levers inside it.
Before the 1967 Supreme Court case Katz v. United States, it was legal for detectives to tap phone lines with the approval of the commonwealth’s attorney, Courtney said.
“What Dan Courtney and this group are doing is incredible,” said Lt. Col. Ed Roessler, Fairfax County deputy police chief. “In addition to providing the public with a history of the department, it is also a great learning tool for younger officers to understand the people, procedures and equipment that were here before them, and that helped the department get to where it is today.”