Update: Detectives Identify Suspect Involved in Virginia Beach Shooting; Wanted for 1992 Homicide of James Essel

Detectives from the Montgomery County Department of Police – Cold Case Unit have identified 51-year-old Hans Huitz of the 800 block of Maitland Drive in Virginia Beach, Virginia, as the person wanted for the homicide of James Essel that occurred on March 22, 1992.

On March 22, 1992, at approximately 6:00 p.m., a customer found James Essel, age 57, deceased inside the Sugarloaf Mountain Market located at 23800 Old Hundred Road in Comus.  The customer located Essel on the floor behind the checkout counter with a large amount of blood on and around him. The customer immediately ran out of the store and called 911. Investigation revealed that Essel owned and operated the store and was the only one working at the time of the homicide.

On March 23, 1992, an autopsy was performed on Essel.  The autopsy revealed that Essel sustained 29 stab wounds and his death was ruled a homicide by the Medical Examiner.

Since that time, detectives have been following various leads and information obtained during this homicide investigation.  In 2017, detectives were able to gather additional information regarding the suspect using the latest in DNA analysis and investigative techniques.  A press conference was held and a press release was issued at that time detailing the additional information.

At the end of January 2020, Huitz was identified as a possible suspect.  On February 10, 2020, with the assistance of the Virginia Beach Police Department, Cold Case detectives obtained a search and seizure warrant to obtain a buccal swab from Hans Huitz for comparison to the DNA evidence (blood) left by the suspect at the scene.

On February 11, 2020, Cold Case detectives, with the assistance of the Virginia Beach Police Department, served the search and seizure warrant on Hans Huitz and obtained a DNA sample from him.  The sample Huitz provided was analyzed and positively identified Huitz as the suspect who had committed the murder of James Essel in 1992.

On Wednesday, February 12, 2020, Repeat Offender Section detectives attached to a U.S. Marshals Task Force attempted to arrest Huitz in Virginia on the strength of an arrest warrant charging him with first-degree murder, felony murder, and robbery with a dangerous weapon.  While attempting to make the arrest, a confrontation between detectives and Huitz resulted in detectives using deadly force and Huitz succumbing to his injuries at the sceneThe 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.



Previous press releases:

Investigation Continues into 1992 Unsolved Homicide of James Essel; Detectives Ask For Public’s Assistance (March 22, 2016)

Media Advisory: Detectives Release Suspect Composite in 1992 Unsolved Homicide of James Essel; DNA Evidence Used to Create Composite (June 9, 2017)

DNA Evidence Left at Scene Used to Create Suspect Composite in 1992 Unsolved Homicide of James Essel (June 12, 2017)


James Essel

Sugarloaf Market (as it looked at time of homicide)

Detectives Involved in Shooting in Virginia Beach

Detectives from the Montgomery County Department of Police – Repeat Offender Section attached to a U.S. Marshals Task Force, were assisting Cold Case detectives earlier this morning in the area of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

During the course of the investigation, a confrontation with the suspect ensued resulting in the detectives using deadly force.  The suspect was shot and succumbed to his injuries on the scene.  The facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting continue to be investigated.

The detectives involved will be placed on administrative leave which is standard protocol for officer-involved shootings.  No law enforcement personnel were injured during the incident.

This remains an ongoing investigation to be conducted by the Virginia Beach Police Department in cooperation with the Virginia Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.  Questions regarding the shooting investigation should be directed to the Virginia Beach Police Department.

Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.




Detectives Make Arrest in Potomac River Rapist Cold Case

Pic of Giles Daniel Warrick

Giles Daniel Warrick

Detectives from the Cold Case Unit of the Montgomery County Department of Police – Major Crimes Division, are announcing the arrest of Giles Daniel Warrick, age 60, of Conway, South Carolina, for a string of sexual assaults that occurred between 1991 and 1998.

Warrick was taken into custody yesterday, November 13, 2019, in Horry County, South Carolina, on the strength of an arrest warrant.   Warrick was identified as the “Potomac River Rapist” who was responsible for at least eight sexual assaults in Montgomery County, Maryland and two sexual assaults in Washington, DC., one of which resulted in a homicide.

This arrest was the result of a collaborative effort between the Montgomery County Department of Police, the Metropolitan Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, over the course of almost three decades.  We wish to thank the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force and the Horry County Police Department for their assistance with the arrest.

Warrick committed a string of sexual assaults in Montgomery County where he would cut the phone lines, force entry into homes, cover the victims’ heads and sexually assault them.  These events occurred between 1991 and 1998 within Montgomery County, Maryland.

Based on the investigation, a warrant was issued for Giles Daniel Warrick charging him with six (6) counts of First Degree Rape under Article 27, Section 462 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.  Warrick was subsequently arrested on November 13, 2019, at his residence in the 200 block of Oak Log Lake Road in Horry County, South Carolina.

Detectives are concerned there may be additional victims in the area given the prolonged period of time that has elapsed involving Giles Daniel Warrick.  Anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070.

Questions regarding the homicide and events occurring in Washington, DC involving Giles Daniel Warrick should be directed to the Metropolitan Police Department’s Office of Communications at 201-727-4383.