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Father calls son a hero after former classmate is charged with his murder

Smith Family
Curtis Mason Smith
Posted at 2:20 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 10:13:10-04

FREDERICK, Md. — Zach Smith on Thursday called his murdered son a hero.

Just three days after he'd been reported missing, the body of 19-year-old Curtis Mason Smith was discovered in the backseat of his car at an abandoned property on Runnymeade Drive.

He'd been shot.

Evidence led detectives to Joshua Eckenrode,19, a onetime classmate of Curtis'.

Eckenrode never confessed to the murder, but told police in an interview that he met Curtis at his mother's home on March 19.

Police say he was the last person to see Curtis alive.

RELATED: Gory details emerge in murder case of missing Frederick teen

Although Eckenrode denied it in the interview, police have information suggesting the two may have met to discuss a gun deal.

During a search of Eckenrode's Thurmont apartment, deputies discovered nine firearms, two improvised explosive devices, and a note.

According to their report, investigators believe Eckenrode was possibly planning a mass casualty event.

"We don't know what a potential target might have been, I have no idea, again the notes we found eluded to that something was going to happen, and that he probably wouldn't survive." said Frederick County Sheriff, Chuck Jenkins.

Whatever it was Mr. Smith feels his son lost his life saving the community from something "crazy happening."

"I think Mason was a hero and he, his death stopped something in this community that would have been very tragic," Mr. Smith said of his son.

After examining Eckenrode's phone and speaking to one of his associates, detectives pinned the murder scene to Eckenrode's mother's house.

That's where trash bags were found filled with bloody clothing belonging to Smith and Eckenrode, along with cleaning wipes and soaked towels.

Police say the evidence indicates that Eckenrode shot Curtis to death and stuffed his body into the back of his Honda Accord, before driving and dropping the car off at the abandoned Runnymeade property.

The associate told police that he picked Eckenrode up from the Runnymeade area on March 19, and took him back to his mother's home.

During the ride, the associate claims that Eckenrode told him a "deal went bad," and asked "how do you get those-oil stains out," as he pointed to a puddle of blood in his mother's driveway.

Jenkins said the property where Curtis' body was found, is "known to probably a lot of teenagers in the area, probably to [Curtis], and Eckenrode]."

Mr. Smith says the property is problem ridden, and hopes his son's death leads to some changes.

"I hope the community, the county, the owners of this property clean it up that no other bad things can happen here it's been know that this is a place, it shouldn't be here anymore." Smith said.