MIDLAND, Va. - There is new information in a 15-year-old Fauquier County murder case. Investigators are revealing for the first time a crime with a similar modus operandi took place several months after the shooting of Bryan Mace. It is a new detail detectives are hoping will eventually lead them to his killer.
Since April 2003, a number of Fauquier County investigators have tried to solve the deeply troubling murder. Mace was a 20-year-old roofer who left his home on a rainy day to pick up a video game at a Blockbuster store in nearby Warrenton.
Investigators believe as Mace left for Blockbuster, several people were there watching his house and moved in. They ransacked several rooms inside and stole more than 20 guns.
When Mace returned to the home he shared with his parents, he walked in the back door even though investigators believe the killer's vehicle was parked behind the garage. It’s a decision that has mystified his father ever since.
"I think about that a lot,” said Carlo Berteilli, Mace’s father. “My theory is that he either thought he recognized a vehicle and knew who was in the house, and if it was a blue or white pickup with a ladder rack or something, he would have thought it was one of the Rayco trucks and I had come home early for some reason.”
Based on the evidence at the scene, investigators believe Mace was shot as soon as he came through the door. The killers then used gasoline they found in the garage to set his body on fire.
It is a fire that may have been smoldering for more than an hour when his father drove up to the back of the house.
"I tried to get in the back door and the key wouldn't unlock the door,” said Mace’s father. “I didn't understand why until I ran up onto the deck and came in the door up there. When I opened it, that is when I saw all the smoke … I found him lying in the hallway, so I grabbed him and I dragged him outside and that is when I noticed he had been shot.”
On the morning of the murder, investigators know there were three hang-up phone calls made to the house from a pay phone outside a country store just up the road.
The pay phone is now gone, but the store remains. Now, there is new information that the sheriff's office did not share with us when we first aired this story back in 2005. What we know now is that six months after Mace’s murder, there was a similar burglary right across the street from the Bertellis’ house in which firearms were stolen. Also, someone made calls from a pay phone from a different country store several miles up the road.
Fifteen years later, investigators still have no idea how the killers knew the guns were in the house. The weapons that simply vanished included an AR-15 rifle and a Desert Eagle pistol. Fauquier County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Romero said it is very unusual.
He is now hoping with the re-airing of this story that someone will come forward with the one tip they need.
"It is unusual that a crime this heinous would not be discussed at some point – whether it be a close friend, a family member,” said Sgt. Romero said.
As for Mace’s parents, they just want justice for their son.
"I can't help it,” said Christine Bertelli, Mace’s mother. “I hate them. I hate that I wish bad things on them and I try not to think about stuff like that, but I can't help it. They took my only child.”
If you have any information that you think might help the investigation, you are asked to call the Fauquier County Sheriff's Office at 540-347-3300.
Watch FOX 5's Paul Wagner's report in 2005 on this case: (App users: Click here to watch)