The body of a 91-year-old man was found beaten and likely doused with gasoline in Detroit on Nov. 23, police say.
The man was identified as Paul Monchnik by his son Scott Monchnik, The Detroit News reports. Police said that they saw a suspected bullet wound in Paul’s head. He was discovered partly dressed with half of his clothing charred off.
“Investigators found that the body was covered with an accelerant, most likely gasoline, and that it had sustained potentially fatal trauma to the body prior to being set on fire,” Sgt. Michael Woody told The News. “There are indications that the house was broken into and that there was a robbery. A van belonging to the victim was also missing.”
The van was reportedly the only possession stolen from the property. Video surveillance footage was found at a nearby gas station that featured a suspect driving the stolen van, police said.
Police released a photo of the suspect on Nov. 23.
(Photo of a suspect wanted in connection with the fatal fire. Photo Credit: Detroit Police Department via The Detroit News)
The suspect was described as being roughly 5-foot-9 and in his early 20s.
“I’m comfortable that with the help from the citizens, we will be able to identify this offender,” Sgt. Michael Russell said. “I’m sure he’s from the neighborhood. He’s quite comfortable from what we were able to find out.”
Paul had last spoken to his son on Nov. 22 when he noted that his car keys had gone missing. He also reportedly mentioned that neighborhood kids had cleaned snow off the vehicle earlier in the day.
Paul's house had been on fire the day his body was found, but it had died down by the time family members arrived, his son said.
Elderly homicide is becoming increasingly rare in the U.S. It declined by 44 percent between 1993 and 2011, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). In 2011, there were 2.1 elderly homicides per 100,000 persons.