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Solving the murder of missing Lansdowne man

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Posted at 5:15 PM, Mar 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-22 06:02:57-04

Police in Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties believe they have solved a murder mystery, even though they have not been able to locate the victim’s body.

Mark Hatmaker was 50 years old.  He hasn't been seen since he disappeared just before Thanksgiving.

Hatmaker had a long criminal and served time in state prison.  But friends say he'd turned his life around, especially five years ago when he became a father.

His daughter is has special needs; friends say Hatmaker never missed a doctor’s appointment.

“Having this child dumped in his lap, this was like a second life for him. This was a second chance for him. A reprieve,” said a friend, Bobby Beksinski.

After Hatmaker went missing friends began searching for him.  They spent much of the Winter searching wooded areas, creeks and streams near Hatmaker’s home in Landsdowne and also parts of Anne Arundel County.

It turns out back in November, Hatmaker had gone to a meeting with a man named Richard Brooks.

“After that meeting, Mr. Hatmaker was never seen again,” said Lt. Ryan Frashure of the Anne Arundel County Police Department.

Brooks had a motor home that had been parked close to the meeting location, the Empire Towers office building in Glen Burnie.

He also had access to a U-Haul truck.  Eventually, investigators found the motor home and the truck, and inside they found blood and human tissue.

“He tried to clean up the scene but he didn't clean it up good enough, our forensic investigators were able to go in there and recover and locate that evidence,” Lt. Frashure said.

Investigators determined the blood was Mark Hatmaker's.  It was enough to declare him deceased.

Now, prosecutors have charged Richard Brooks with second degree murder -- even though they have not found Hatmaker's body.

“Without the body, there are other pieces of evidence that we'll rely upon to prove cause and manner and time of death. Which is what we have to prove to our jury,” said the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney, Wes Adams.  “We follow down every lead in the investigation that we can and we pull together all of our evidence and we proceed from there we put that evidence before a jury and that's how we put our case forward.”

Hatmaker's friends say they believe Brooks is responsible for his death, but they also believe other people might be involved.

If Brooks won't tell investigators where the body, they hope the others might.

“They arrested someone, they charged someone with his murder but yet his mom who is 70 some years old who's already lost a son and his daughter they have no closure,” Beksinski said.

Richard Brooks was already in custody in Baltimore County on unrelated charges.  Now he’ll face that charge of 2nd degree murder in Anne Arundel County.

A reward for information leading to the whereabouts of Mark Hatmaker's body is still active.