MUNCIE, Ind. — More than three years after a hit-and-run crash killed a pedestrian in Muncie, police believe they finally have their man.
Mitchel J. Masterson, 23, of Eaton, faces charges of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death in connection with the October 2018 incident.
According to police, a car hit 27-year-old Joe Minor Jr. South Morrison Road in Muncie.
Investigators found Minor’s body just off the road. Police believe he lay injured near there for more than an hour before someone found him. Minor later died at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital.
A homeowner’s private security camera captured what happened. According to court documents, an unidentified vehicle hit Minor around 11 p.m. on Oct. 5, 2018. The driver left the scene and never reported the crash.
Minor’s death remained unsolved until months ago, when Muncie police received a tip that Masterson had driven the vehicle that hit Minor. Police said it was a white Buick Rendezvous.
A witness told police Masterson showed up at her home late one night in October 2018 and claimed he’d “struck a deer on Morrison Road.” The witness also said Masterson told her that he and another individual had gone to the crash site to pick up debris.
The Buick Rendezvous, registered to a family member, had been damaged and repaired at an Eaton business. Repairs were performed on the headlight assembly, grill and hood, according to court documents.
Eventually, the Buick Rendezvous was sold to someone else, and police were able to track it down. According to court documents, investigators downloaded data from the control module, which detailed two crashes involving the SUV. One of them was “consistent with a pedestrian strike crash.”
Police talked to other witnesses who told them Masterson had admitted to the crash.
“Oh, you know the dude on Morrison that got hit? I hit him,” Masterson said, according to one witness. The same witness said Masterson “was almost laughing” about the crash.
A different witness also recounted Masterson laughing during a conversation about the crash, while a separate witness said he broke down crying that he “he had hit and killed someone.” That witness believed he was referring to Joe Minor.
When police interviewed Masterson in March 2022, he denied he’d ever been involved in a car crash. He also told police he drove a gold Sienna in 2018. He later admitted he drove a white Rendezvous and told police he’d hit a deer once.
Investigators obtained a photo of the Buick Rendezvous taken approximately one week before Minor’s death and another picture taken about a week afterwards. Detectives observed new damage to the passenger side in the second photo and determined it was consistent with damage from a crash involving a pedestrian, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Masterson was being held in the Blackford County Jail in an unrelated case, police said.
According to court records, he has previous convictions for possession of methamphetamine, visiting a common nuisance and carrying a handgun without a license.