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Suspect charged in connection to murder of Evelyn Player at Baltimore City church

Posted at 10:11 PM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 23:13:14-05

BALTIMORE — A suspect has been charged in connection to the stabbing death of a 69-year-old woman inside an East Baltimore church.

Police say 62-year-old Manzie Smith Jr. killed Evelyn Player inside Southern Baptist November 16.

Player worked as a custodian at the church and reportedly showed up early that Tuesday, to let construction workers inside the building for renovations.

RELATED: 69-year-old woman stabbed to death inside a church in East Baltimore

Her body was discovered later in the day by another church member in the bathroom.

On Thursday Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said Smith had a long arrest record, including past rape and robbery convictions. He had just gotten off parole in October.

Charging documents show Player had stab wounds to her hands, indicating a struggle. Detectives linked the DNA leftover to Smith.

It's not believed he and Player knew each other.

Manzie Smith Jr.
Manzie Smith Jr.

Player's family held her viewing Tuesday and funeral on Wednesday.

RELATED: Public viewing being held for 69-year-old woman killed inside Baltimore church

After announcing the arrest, Harrison issued a statement saying, "I am grateful for the exhaustive investigative work of the members of the Police Department in collaboration with the State's Attorney's Office in identifying the perpetrator of this crime. They have been working around the clock to solve this murder. Hopefully, justice can be served and we bring closure to the family."

Mayor Brandon Scott added, "Thanks to the determined efforts of the Baltimore Police Department, the suspect responsible for the heinous murder of Evelyn Player is now in custody. My heart continues to be with the Player family. No family should have to endure the insufferable pain of losing a matriarch to violence, especially inside their hallowed house of worship. As this family continues to heal, I remain committed to working with Commissioner Harrison and the State Attorney's Office to ensure justice will be served for acts on violence in our community."