Md. man arrested on murder, bombmaking charges in death of Frederick man

curtis smith runnymeade drive
Curtis Mason Smith’s body was found in the backseat of his car, in this abandoned area off Runnymeade Drive, in Frederick County, Maryland. (Courtesy Google Earth)

A Thurmont, Maryland, man has been charged with first-degree murder and bombmaking in the death of a man who was found in Frederick County, and investigators believe he may have intended a mass shooting rampage.

Joshua David Eckenrode, 19, is charged with killing Curtis Mason Smith, 19, who was found dead in a vehicle on Sunday. Eckenrode has waived his bail review and is being held without bond.

The Frederick County’s Sheriff’s Office said Eckenrode has been charged with murder and using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime, as well as six felony counts of manufacturing possession or distribution of a destructive device; three felony charges of possessing explosives without a license and eight related misdemeanors.

According to charging documents obtained by WTOP, Smith’s body was found Saturday in the backseat of his Honda Accord at an abandoned property off Runnymeade Drive in Frederick County.

Smith had been reported missing by his family on Friday. Family members told investigators Smith said he planned to get a COVID-19 test, then drive with some friends to buy some vehicle parts. But Smith’s friend told investigators he was planning to go to West Virginia to buy, sell or trade a firearm with a person Smith referred to as “Redneck Josh.”

After the friend confirmed a yearbook picture of Eckenrode appeared to be the person he knew as “Redneck Josh,” investigators went to Eckenrode’s apartment on Mountaindale Road in Thurmont to talk with him.

Eckenrode told investigators he knew Smith from school and had talked to him on Friday about possibly buying Smith’s car.

The conversation took place on Snapchat — the detective observed Eckenrode’s name as “thewhite_josh.”

After continued questioning, Eckenrode said he met with Smith at Eckenrode’s mother’s home in Frederick late that morning.

However, investigators believe Eckenrode shot Smith at Eckenrode’s apartment, loaded Smith’s body into the Honda Accord that Smith arrived in and dumped it at the abandoned property off Runnymeade Drive.

Investigators believe Eckenrode called a friend who gave him a ride back to his mother’s home, where he began cleaning and disposing blood evidence.

According to the charging documents, Smith’s body was found lying face down in the blood-filled backseat of his Honda, with his feet wrapped in a bicycle tire. No blood was found on the ground near where the car and body were discovered.

The black Polo sweatshirt Smith had been wearing when he left home was missing when his body was found, according to investigators.

After obtaining a search warrant for Eckenrode’s mother’s home, investigators said, they found the black Polo sweatshirt Smith had been wearing, and a shirt and pair of pants that match Eckenrode’s size, all covered in blood and stuffed into a green trash can, where two trash bags were triple-bagged.

While the charging documents don’t specify why investigators believe Eckenrode murdered Smith, the friend who drove Eckenrode to his mother’s home said Josh told him “a deal went bad.”

The search of Eckenrode’s apartment turned up a large amount of firearms, including handguns, shotguns and semi-automatic rifles, investigators said.

“During the search, detectives located possible bomb making materials, to include fuses, broken off tips of matches, gunpowder” and other materials related to firearm use, the charging documents said.

In addition, investigators said, they found items that suggest Eckenrode might have been contemplating crimes other than Smith’s murder.

“There were 2 assembled explosive devices located, along with a note addressed to Eckenrode’s sister, and mom and dad. The note expressed Eckenrode’s apologies for ‘Having to go out this way,'” according to the document.

Investigators also found what charging documents refer to as “a plan of action,” detailing guns Eckenrode strategically stored in different “stages” at an unknown location.

“The above mentioned evidence was consistent with Eckenrode possibly intending on committing a mass shooting and/or mass casualty event,” according to the arrest warrant.

The charging documents don’t mention whether Eckenrode has acknowledged a role in Smith’s death.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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