Police identify suspect in 1992 murder of James Essel at Sugarloaf Mountain Market

I-270

Essel was stabbed 29 times and his death was ruled a homicide

Pictured: James Essel

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — After nearly 28 years, a suspect who might be responsible for a murder in 1992, has been identified.

According to Montgomery County Police, Hans Huitz, 51, of Virginia Beach, Va., is accused of killing 57-year-old James Essel in Montgomery County, Maryland. Detectives obtained a swab from Huitz to compare to the DNA evidence left by the suspect at the scene.

In March 1992, Essel was found inside the Sugarloaf Mountain Market located on Old Hundred Road. Essel was found on the floor behind the counter. Essel owned and ran the store. He was the only one working that night, police said.

Pictured: Sugarloaf Mountain Market

Essel was stabbed 29 times and his death was ruled a homicide.

It wasn’t until 2017 when detectives gathered additional details including the latest in DNA analysis and investigative techniques. According to a press release, Huitz was identified as a possible suspect and a search and seizure warrant was used to compare the blood left at the scene.

On February 12, detectives with the U.S. Marshals attempted to arrest Huitz after he was charged with first-degree murder, felony murder, and robbery with a dangerous weapon. During the arrest, a confrontation between police and Huitz ensued and the use of deadly force was used. Huitz died of his injuries.

The facts and circumstances regarding the incident are currently being investigated by the Virginia Beach Police Department in cooperation with the Virginia Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

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