Suspect Charged In Missing Teen's Murder; Victim's Dad Says ‘He Was A Hero’

Police uncovered a possible plot for mass murder in the search for 19-year-old Curtis Mason Smith. Smith's dad said "his death stopped something in this community that would have been very tragic."

March 26, 2021
Photo of victim, 19-year-old Curtis Mason Smith [via Frederick County Sheriff's Office, MD on Facebook]

Photo of victim, 19-year-old Curtis Mason Smith [via Frederick County Sheriff's Office, MD on Facebook]

Photo of victim, 19-year-old Curtis Mason Smith [via Frederick County Sheriff's Office, MD on Facebook]

By: Michelle Sigona

On Friday, March 19, 19-year-old Curtis Mason Smith disappeared without a trace, according to police reports. Within 72 hours, police found his body inside a vehicle parked on a long driveway in Frederick, Maryland. Someone was reportedly searching for their lost dog when the discovery was made. Smith was shot in the head and was found between the back passenger seat and floorboard, reports added.

The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office announced they charged 19-year-old Joshua David Eckenrode of Thurmont, Maryland, a high school acquaintance of Curtis, with first degree murder. “So far, authorities have not released a motive for the killing, but the investigation uncovered a plan to kill many more people,” according to WBAL-TV.

Smith’s family believes he saved the community from further harm and his death was not in vain. During a press conference, Smith’s father, Zachary Smith said, "I think we all should look at Mason as a hero. He was a great kid. He knew the right things to do.” Zachary adds, "Knowing more about this, I think Mason was a hero and his death stopped something in this community that would have been very tragic."

Eckenrode reportedly told investigators he knew Smith from high school and struck up a conversation with him about possibly purchasing his old vehicle. Smith may have been in the market for a newer car, according to reports.

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A Sheriff’s Office press release states, during a recent search on two residences and an intense two-day investigation, on March 22 investigators uncovered “multiple weapons and explosive materials.”

According to a charging document shared with WBAL-TV, investigators found blood on Eckenrode’s driveway and, “...they found explosive devices; a large number of handguns, shotguns, semi automatic rifles; and ammunition.”

The document continues, “Authorities said they also found a written plan of action and a note from Eckenrode addressed to his family.” Blood-soaked clothing, also reportedly belonging to Smith, along with towels and wipes for clean up, were also located at the residence.

The note Eckenrode allegedly penned, according to Fox 5 DC, stated the teen was apologetic for “having to go out this way.” The discovery of massive amounts of weapons and explosives allegedly suggested, "evidence consistent with Eckenrode possibly intending to carry out a mass shooting and/or mass casualty event,” police reports add.

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“Our detectives and deputies, along with officers from the Frederick Police Department, have been working around the clock to solve this murder,” said Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Andy Crone. “These professionals worked every lead, tip, and call they received and through their investigative efforts this person was quickly identified and detained.”

If you have any additional information to help investigators on this case please contact: FCSO tip line at (301)-600-4131 and reference case #21-025637.

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