Day laborer accused of stabbing Baltimore woman inside church charged with murder

Authorities say Manzie Smith Jr. 62, fatally stabbed Evelyn Player inside her church Nov. 16.

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Baltimore Police have arrested the man they say fatally stabbed a senior citizen inside her church home. The gruesome murder has had city residents in an uproar for weeks.

Authorities say Smith’s DNA was found inside east Baltimore’s Southern Baptist Church where 69-year-old Evelyn Player was stabbed to death on Nov. 16, multiple sources reported.

Manzie Smith, 62, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder on Dec. 1, according to WBAL. Smith was denied bail during a brief hearing on Monday, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Authorities say Evelyn Player, 69, was stabbed to death inside her church home in Baltimore, Md. on Nov. 16, 2021. Credit: March Funeral Homes

Player showed up at her church in the 1700 block of North Chester Street around 6 a.m. three weeks ago to grant entry to day laborers who were helping with renovations, according to WJZ and Baltimore Police. Police said a maintenance worker found Player stabbed to death inside a church bathroom about an hour later, according to WBAL.

The grisly details of Player’s killing sent shockwaves through Baltimore last month. Hundreds of mourners showed up for a vigil and community walk at Player’s church on Nov. 18, according to AFRO.com.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott described Player as a dedicated member of Southern Baptist Church during a late November press conference about her killing.

“Her family is four generations strong at Southern, and all of our hearts should be with them,” Scott told reporters, according to AFRO. “Solving this unfathomable, unthinkable, cowardly act is now priority number one for the Baltimore Police Department and I have the utmost faith our homicide detectives will close this case.”

Authorities said Smith’s DNA was also found on Player’s body, according to WBAL.

“Science produced evidence to make us pretty confident that Mr. Smith was the perpetrator of this crime,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison told WBAL on Thursday. “The evidence collected goes through a number of procedures to analyze it and to either identify or refute that somebody is a suspect, and that’s why it took a while. It was more important for us to do this right.”

Harrison also told reporters it’s unclear whether Smith knew Player.

A mugshot of Manzie Smith, 62, of Baltimore, Maryland. Credit: Baltimore Police Department on Facebook

“There’s no information right now to support that there was a relationship between the victim and the perpetrator,” he told WBAL.

Smith’s defense attorney, Warren Brown, told court officials his client suffers from mental health issues and he intends to file a “not criminally responsible” plea declaring Smith doesn’t have the mental capacity to be convicted under Maryland law, according to the Baltimore Sun.

WBAL reports Smith was once diagnosed with bipolar disorder following a 2012 robbery for which he was mentally evaluated and found to be competent after being charged.

“He’s got some significant problems,” Brown told a judge on Monday.

This isn’t Smith’s first alleged violent crime, according to WBAL.

Court records obtained by the news site show Smith was sentenced to 30 years in prison after he was convicted of first-degree rape in 1991.

He was placed on mandatory supervision after being denied parole, according to WBAL. That supervision ended in October of this year, the news site reported.

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