Updated: 1:17 PM PDT, March 26, 2021
A 19-year old Maryland man has been arrested for the alleged murder of his fellow classmate, 19-year-old Curtis Mason Smith, who was initially reported missing last week by family members, authorities said.
Smith was last seen Friday, and his body was found on Sunday in his car, a 2012 Honda Accord, near an abandoned barn, with a gunshot wound to his head. A neighbor walking her dog made the grisly discovery: a “bloody hand” through the tinted car windows, according to published reports.
On Wednesday, Joshua David Eckenrode was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Smith, and an additional charge of firearm use in a violent crime, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) said in a statement.
Eckenrode was held after deputies found “multiple weapons and explosive materials” in a home with which he was associated, the sheriff’s office said, NBC 4News Washington reported.
Devices discovered by detectives during warranted searches at two separate residences associated with Eckenrode late Monday were ultimately rendered safe and to pose no threat to the community, according to a police statement.
Detectives initially held Eckenrode on charges of possession of explosive material and weapons without a license. As the investigation continued, they say evidence, cellphone records, and interviews with multiple friends of Eckenrode and Smith led detectives to his arrest for murder, police said.
At 2:30 p.m. on Sunday police responded to the scene at 8100 block of Runnymeade Drive in Frederick County. When officers arrived, they found Smith face-down behind the passenger seat in his car. Officers said a large amount of blood was found inside the vehicle as well as multiple 9mm bullet casings in the back seat. Officials said Smith had a gunshot wound in his head and his feet were wrapped in a bicycle tire, WUSA9 News reported.
Police also found that the clothes Smith had worn the day he disappeared were different from the clothes he was found in, according to footage from a Ring doorbell. During the search of Eckenrode’s home, Smith’s sweatshirt and other clothing items were found in trash bags at Eckenrode’s home, the news outlet said.
Information had not been released on a possible motive or any relationship the victim and suspect had. Eckenrode is being held at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center, according to a police statement. He has no bond. His next court appearance is on April 13 at 3 pm. He will be represented by a public defender, according to the Frederick County District Court.
The sheriff’s department is still investigating and asking anyone with additional information to contact the FCSO tip line at 301-600-4131 and reference case # 21-025637.