A Detroit teenager who beat a 91-year-old WWII veteran to death and set him on fire has been sentenced to 30-60 years in prison, WWJ-TV (Detroit) is reporting.
George Stewart IV was 17 when he killed 91-year-old Paul Monchnik, beating the nearly-deaf WWII veteran to death and then setting the man’s body and house on fire to cover his tracks. Traces of an accelerant (possibly gasoline) were found in the elderly man’s stomach; authorities believe Stewart either forced Monchnik to drink it or otherwise forced it into him.
Teen charged in death of 91-year-old Detroit neighbor: Paul Monchnik, 91, was killed at his home on Detroit’s… https://t.co/aSfQTclpo7
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Scott Monchnik told the Detroit Free Press that he got a call at about 3:00 a.m. that his father’s house was on fire. He rushed to the home and was told by police at the scene that he couldn’t go inside.
“The fire was so extensive. After they brought the body out, they explained I would need to get dental records to identify the body. All I was shown was the face, and I told them I could not with complete certainty say that it was my dad.”
One thing that Monchnik noticed about the scene was that his father’s old van was missing.
Days after the murder, Detroit police released surveillance footage from a nearby gas station. A person could be seen exiting Monchnik’s van and filling up gas cans. Several people — Romulus Police Officer Aaron Hathorn, the school resource officer where Stewart went to high school — recognized the suspect.
“The young man on the video was someone that I know. I recognized him as a student. I contacted Detroit police to see where they were and if they in fact knew who that was.”
The teen had only been in the neighborhood for a few days when he murdered his neighbor. His grandfather, George Stewar Jr., told the Detroit News that the teen was living with him for a short period while his mother, Syretta Moore, was in the process of moving.
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Once the elder Stewart realized that police were looking for his grandson, he and other family members encouraged the teen to turn himself in. Stewart said he hoped against hope that his grandson was innocent.
George Stewart IV later pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, according to WDIV (Detroit), and last week he was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison for the murder of the elderly veteran. He will be 47-years-old before he first becomes eligible for parole.
Stewart told the court that he was sorry for his actions.
“No one should be able to leave this world like that. Mr. Monchnik was a good man. He didn’t deserve to die like he did.”
In an emotional statement, Scott Monchnik told the court that he constantly imagines what his father must have gone through in the last moments of his life.
“The terrible, sickening feeling I get thinking that my dad’s last hour on earth was filled with horror and pain, worse than anything he went through in the war.”
Even though he’s pleaded guilty, some family members of the younger Stewart insist that he is innocent. His sister, Taige Stewart, pointed out that the teen had never been in trouble with the law before he was accused of murdering Monchnik. Similarly, his mother, Syretta, also insists that “there’s more to the story,” but has declined to give specifics.
Stewart’s family say they plan to appeal.
[Feature Image by pattern line/Shutterstock]