A 17 year old in Detroit faces murder charges in the home invasion killing of his next-door neighbor, a 91-year-old World War II U.S. Army veteran, whose body he allegedly torched after the deadly assault.
After allegedly beating the victim and possibly shooting him, the suspect set fire to the residence, according to authorities.
Paul Monchnik, a retired TV repairman and widowed great grandfather who immigrated to America as a child from Poland, was found dead at his northwest Detroit home early Monday, when first responders arrived there to put out the blaze. He was reportedly pronounced dead at the scene.
“The alleged facts in this case are that the defendant killed his elderly neighbor by beating him and attempting to burn the evidence,” a Wayne County prosecutor explained. “The word heinous does not even begin to describe this crime.”
As alluded to above, an unconfirmed report suggests that the victim also had a bullet wound in his head, the Detroit News added. Autopsy results are pending, which could take several weeks.
The teen who has been charged in this incident only moved in with his grandparents next door to Monchnik a few days before the crime occurred.
The teen’s grandfather and other family members notified the police when they saw surveillance video released by authorities of a suspect in the alleged home invasion and arson filling up a gas canister at a nearby gas station.
The suspect allegedly doused the elderly man’s home with gas to start the fire.
“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,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig remarked.
The suspect reportedly turned himself in at the urging of his family sometime after investigators and a SWAT team executed a search warrant on the grandparent’s house, ABC News Detroit affiliate WXYZreported. The suspect was not at home at the time of the raid.
The suspect, identified by multiple news outlets as high school sophomore George Steward, was formally charged on Thanksgiving Day with first-degree murder, felony murder, and arson. He is being held in jail without a bond. He is due back in court on December 3 and December 10 for further proceedings in the case.
Sometime before the arrest, the suspect gave an interview to local media in “the role of a concerned citizen” and helpful neighbor, Deadline Detroit noted.
Police recovered the elderly man’s missing Chevy minivan elsewhere in Detroit with the gas can inside the vehicle, according to the CBS News Detroit affiliate.
It is currently unclear what the specific motive for the crime may be; burglary is apparently presumed to have prompted the act, however.
“These neighbors, actually, have been helping my dad for years. So I’m really having a hard time getting my head around the idea that someone from their family was involved,” the victim’s son said, according to an account in USA TODAY. “But I’m very glad they went to police. And I’m very glad that this person is off the streets, so he cannot do harm to anybody else.”
On Wednesday morning, his dad’s funeral took place, where “relatives of Monchnik read various memories and tributes to him,” Mlive.com reported, including recognition of his military service.
Unrelated to this horrific pre-Thanksgiving incident, about two years ago Chief Craig suggested that more Detroit citizens who are, as he described, good responsible Americans and have the appropriate training, should arm themselves to help make a difference in deterring violent crime in the city.
[Images via YouTube]