James Essel

James Essel

Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Major Crimes Division – Cold Case Squad continue to investigate a homicide that occurred in March of 1992.

On March 22, 1992, police investigation determined that victim James Essel died due to stab wounds that he suffered inside the Sugarloaf Mountain Market located at 23800 Old Hundred Road in Comus. 

The Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death a homicide.

Through the course of the investigation, detectives believed that the murder occurred that same evening between the hours of 5:30 and 6 p.m.

Detectives established the following facts during the investigation:

  • James Essel was the owner of the Sugarload Mountain Market and detectives believed that he was stabbed to death inside the store during an apparent robbery.
  • Evidence at the crime scene indicated that Essel struggled with the unknown suspect during the apparent robbery.  Recovered blood evidence supported that the suspect sustained an injury during the struggle.
  • Detectives obtained a DNA profile of the suspect’s blood that was left at the scene.  The DNA profile was entered into a national database in 1992 but as of yet, there has been no match.
  • A witness observed a black, Pontiac Fiero in the parking lot of the store during the time frame the murder occurred.
  • Investigators have reason to believe that the suspect was known to the area and may have been a prior customer to the store.  Detectives also have reason to believe that the suspect possibly smoked Marlboro or Marlboro Light cigarettes.
Sugarloaf Market, circa 1992

Sugarloaf Market, circa 1992

Site of Sugarloaf Market today. 23800 Old Hundred Rd Dickerson, MD 20842

Site of Sugarloaf Market today. 23800 Old Hundred Rd., Dickerson, MD 20842

With the new release of the information available about this unsolved case, detectives are hoping someone may remember something that they did not think was important to report to police in 1992.

Anyone with information regarding suspect(s) or any other details that might advance this investigation is urged to contact the Major Crimes Division at (240)-773-5070.

For those who wish to remain anonymous, Crime Solvers of Montgomery County is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for any information that leads to the arrest of the suspect(s).

Tipsters can call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Example of a Pontiac Fiero (same color, make and model vehicle seen at the Sugarloaf market at the time of the murder)

Example of a Pontiac Fiero (same color, make and model vehicle seen at the Sugarloaf market at the time of the murder)

Blood evidence left by the suspect at the Sugarloaf Market

Blood evidence left by the suspect at the Sugarloaf Market

Blood evidence left by the suspect at the Sugarloaf Market

Blood evidence left by the suspect at the Sugarloaf Market

Nearby Comus Market, today.

Nearby Comus Market, today.