A Baltimore man pleaded guilty Tuesday to fatally stabbing a 69-year-old beloved woman inside her East Baltimore church.
Manzie Smith Jr., 63, pleaded guilty to the murder of Evelyn Player who was stabbed to death in November 2021.
Smith received a life sentence with all but 50 years suspended and five years of probation.
The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office released a statement following the sentencing:
“This case was deeply traumatic for everyone in the community and especially for the family of Evelyn Player, a matriarch of the neighborhood, who can never be replaced,” Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates said. “This plea allows the family to receive closure and process their grief, resulting in a lengthy sentence that will ensure this dangerous individual never returns to the streets of our city again.”
Player was found stabbed to death in a bathroom at Southern Baptist Church just after 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 16, 2021. She was there early that morning to let contractors inside.
The autopsy revealed that the Player suffered multiple sharp force injuries including 38 stab wounds, primarily to her face, neck, and chest, and 54 cutting wounds, primarily to her face, neck, and hands.
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News of her murder shook the community. At the time, former Gov. Larry Hogan offered a $100,000 reward for tips leading to an arrest.
According to reports, DNA evidence processed at the scene and submitted for testing contained a mixture of the victim’s DNA and that of Smith. Security footage also revealed several images of an individual approaching the church around the time of the murder.
Officials said smith pawned two jewelry items on Nov. 18, 2021, using his own I.D. The items were later identified as belonging to Ms. Player.
Smith was questioned by Baltimore Police days later and ultimately arrested in early Dec. 2021.
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