Crime - Sacto 911

North Highlands veteran succumbs to injuries from beating

John M. Masson, 91, of North Highlands has died after being beaten by robbers last month.
John M. Masson, 91, of North Highlands has died after being beaten by robbers last month. Department of Motor Vehicles

A North Highlands veteran has died after a horrific beating during a home-invasion robbery late last month.

“He was a very quiet man,” said his stepdaughter, Akemi Girion. “He didn’t bother anybody. I miss him very much.”

John M. Masson, 91, died Saturday of injuries suffered when he was pummeled by at least one robber at his home in the 4100 block of Cortright Way on Oct. 28. The thieves left with valuables and prescription drugs but not Masson’s car, which he refused to give up.

Girion said her stepfather was an Air Force airplane mechanic in World War II, the Korean War and the start of the Vietnam War. He served in Europe during World War II.

After the war, he was stationed in Japan for five years. That’s where he met Girion’s mother.

The couple settled in North Highlands, and Masson worked at McClellan Air Force Base. His wife, Hideko Masson, died about 10 years ago.

Girion said her stepfather lived a simple life in his ranch-style home for 50 years. That calm was shattered about 1:30 a.m. Oct. 28, when robbers entered the house and demanded the keys to his car.

“They went to his room and he doesn’t give up a car key,” said Girion, who is disabled and was living with her stepfather. “They said they wanted a safe, but we have no safe. So they got mad and beat him. His face swelled four times bigger. He was suffering.”

She said he had internal bleeding, a brain injury and broken facial bones.

“They messed him up so badly,” Girion said. “One of them said to me: ‘I don’t want to kill you.’”

The robbers never found a car key, but Girion said they took cash, jewelry and prescription drugs.

Sacramento County sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Lisa Bowman said the sheriff’s report reflected Girion’s account. Investigators had little to go on in terms of a description of the intruders because the home was dark, and the victim and witness were unable to get a good look at the intruders, she said. The suspects were described only as men of average height – 5 feet, 10 inches to 6 feet tall – and medium build.

The case originally was assigned to the Sheriff’s Department’s robbery bureau, which had been conducting follow-up interviews, Bowman said. When the department was notified Saturday that Masson had died, the case was transferred to the homicide bureau.

“Before it was just home invasion, but now it is murder,” Girion said.

Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079. Bee researcher Pete Basofin contributed to this report.