Person in custody in death of Detroit man, 91

Tom Greenwood, and George Hunter

Detroit — A person is in custody after turning himself in Tuesday in the case of an elderly man who was beaten, killed and doused with gasoline on the city’s northwest side a day earlier.

“I’m not certain what motivated this suspect, and he is only a suspect,” Police Chief James Craig said Tuesday. “We still have a lot of work going forward.”

The investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed as of Wednesday morning, Officer Nicole Kirkwood said.

Earlier Tuesday, police conducted a search on a house located next door to the home of 91-year-old Paul Monchnik, who was killed in his home Monday morning.


The home where the search occurred is on the 20500 block of Bentler on the city’s northwest side.

“There were several teams at a scene this morning. I’m not going to disclose what they found,” Craig said.

Kirkwood said it remains unclear how the suspect and search are connected.

Monchnik’s body was discovered in his home early Monday morning when police and fire personnel responded to a fire at the home about 2:50 a.m. Monday.

The official cause of death from the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office was still pending toxicology reports as of Wednesday morning, but an officer at the scene observed that Monchnik had what appeared to be a bullet wound to his head.

His body, which was located near the front door of the living room area, had been doused with gasoline and set on fire.

According to police, the home showed signs of a break-in and Monchnik’s van was missing.

Police said the suspect in custody was believed to be caught on surveillance video.

Police: Body of Detroit man, 91, beaten, set on fire

Police had released a photo and video of the suspect taken from surveillance footage at the gas station. The suspect was caught on video driving the victim’s van to a nearby gas station to purchase gasoline.

Detroit police have released this photo of a suspect wanted in connection with the fatal fire that occurred in the 20500 block of Bentler.

“There was a burglary, and we believe during the suspect’s entry into the home, there was an attack,” Craig said. “In order for the suspect to cover his tracks, he decided to go leave the location, obtain some gasoline, return and set the victim and the home on fire.”

The suspect was described by police as about 5-foot-9 and in his early 20s. He has a medium complexion and was wearing a red or orange skull cap, gray hoodie and black pants.

Monchnik told his son on Sunday that the keys to his vehicle — a silver 2000 Chevrolet Ventura van with license plate no. CNU1721 — were missing. Monchnik also had said some kids had cleaned snow off the vehicle earlier in the day, his son told police.

The missing vehicle was found in Detroit by the Southfield Police Department, Craig said.

Monchnik was a self-employed television repairman for more than 50 years. He worked throughout his life to provide for his family, which included a wife who died seven years ago, three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Police and and fire personnel were called to the home in the 20500 block of Bentler at about 2:50 a.m. Monday.

Those with information in the case are asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) SPEAK-UP or Detroit Police Homicide at (313) 596-2260.