OCEAN CITY – Nearly three years after a Virginia man was apparently murdered in his family’s Ocean City condominium, resort police this week appealed to the public for help in locating his remains, which they believe could have been wrapped in bedding and dumped within a 30-mile radius of the crime scene.
Eduardo Masoller, then 52, of Springfield, Va., was reported missing by his family on Feb. 3, 2005 just three days after he and his crew arrived in the resort area for a contracting job. Ocean City Police, accompanied by family members, went to Masoller’s condominium on 68th Street and discovered a large knife on the floor as well as a substantial amount of blood evidence throughout the unit, the most significant of which was a large pool in one of the unit’s bedrooms.
Three years later, the probe into the homicide continues. One of the prime suspects remains behind bars, serving a five-year sentence for a robbery charge associated with the crime, while the other identified suspect remains at large. For the past two-plus years, OCPD investigators have conducted exhaustive searches of the remote area near Ocean City but have been unable to locate the body.
“The evidence strongly suggests Eduardo’s remains were moved by the suspects from the scene and quickly dumped somewhere near Ocean City,” said OCPD lead investigator Brett Case. “We’ve tried numerous times to locate them.”
To that end, investigators this week solicited the public’s help in locating Masoller’s remains. They are hoping someone involved in hunting, hiking or other related outdoor activities may have seen something in a remote area of the woods or fields around the resort area they may have previously discounted as trash or miscellaneous debris. Detectives now believe the public may be the key to solving the cold case and bringing the perpetrators to justice as well as providing the victim’s family with a sense of closure.
In June 2005, five months after Masoller was first reported missing, a Worcester County Circuit Court judge ruled favorably on a petition to declare Masoller officially deceased, which essentially turned the missing person case into a homicide investigation. The judge reached his decision after carefully reviewing compelling testimony from investigators and overwhelming forensic evidence ruling out the likelihood the victim could have survived the injuries based on the amount of blood evidence in the condominium.
From the beginning, the investigation centered around two main suspects, both of whom were part of Masoller’s contracting crew and were among the last known to see him alive. One of the suspects, Jose Damian Hernandez, sits behind bars after being convicted on theft charges related to the case. The other main suspect, known to investigators only as “Beto” initially, remains at large and could provide a vital piece of missing information in the case.
Last August, resort detectives learned the true identity of “Beto” and are actively seeking the suspect. Beto has been identified as Jose Roberto Orellana Romero, 31, with no fixed address. Romero’s most recent address available is in Columbus, Ohio, where Hernandez was ultimately arrested on the theft charges almost three years ago, but resort detectives believe he could have fled to his native El Salvador.
Masoller and his co-workers, Hernandez and “Beto,” now known as Romero, arrived in Ocean City on Jan. 31, 2005 with the victim’s work van and a rented U-Haul truck both filled with tools. Witnesses placed Masoller and Hernandez at the Bull on the Beach restaurant on 94th Street on the evening of Jan. 31, the last time investigators believe Masoller was seen alive.
After being notified by family that he was missing, police entered Masoller’s unit and noticed a kitchen knife on the floor near a sliding glass door. Further investigation revealed a “significant” amount of blood evidence throughout the unit, the most substantial of which was a large pool of blood on the floor in one of the bedrooms. All of the bedding and linens, as well as a large mattress from a Fouton bed were missing from the apartment.
The first real break in the case came when Masoller’s van, and Hernandez, turned up in Columbus, Ohio. Evidence shows Hernandez and Romero gassed up the van at the 7-Eleven in Ocean Pines early in the morning on Feb. 2, and a trail of credit card slips forged with Masoller’s signature showed Hernandez and the van making their way to Masoller’s Virginia home, where Hernandez returned the credit card to the victim’s family, stating Masoller had given him the card to use to get back to Virginia to get more workers.
Hernandez later pawned Masoller’s tools at a Virginia pawnshop before being caught with the missing man’s van in Columbus, Ohio. He was convicted of theft in Worcester County in June 2006 and sentenced to five years in jail, where he sits behind bars as the prime suspect in Masoller’s murder.
With the substantial amount of forensic evidence and one of the major suspects behind bars, finding the victim’s remains could be the lynchpin in closing the cold case. Anyone with information regarding the case or the location of the remains is urged to contact the OCPD Criminal Investigation Division at 410-723-6604.