Note: we are republishing this story amid recent reports of a surge in violent crime and burglaries across America during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
A 91-year-old Detroit man may have been force fed gasoline before being beaten and burned to death in his home, says an assistant Wayne County medical examiner during a hearing.
Paul Monchnik was found with a fifth of a cup of a by-product of an accelerant similar to gasoline in his autopsy, says Dr. Kilak Kesha. He said the teen suspect may have forced Monchnik to consume it.
“It would have to come through the mouth,” Kesha testified in 36th District Court. “The victim could have drank it or (had it put into his open mouth while he was unconscious).”
A female family member of the 91-year-old victim gasped while listening to the explicit details of Monchnik’s murder.
On Dec. 14, Kesha testified on the first day of the initial examination that over 80 percent of Monchnik’s body was burned, ranging from first to fourth degree. He also said that Monchnik’s head injury alone was enough to kill him.
On Jan. 5, 17-year-old George Steward IV was summoned to stand trial in the case, and is charged with first-degree murder, felony murder and burning a dwelling, reports Detroit News.
On Nov. 23 Steward entered the former TV repairman’s home looking to rob him and then an attack soon followed, according to USA Today. Steward ended up buying gasoline at a local gas station to set the house on fire, covering up his tracks.
When officers arrived at the scene, he already pronounced dead – having a severe head injury and burns all over his body.
Judge Kenneth King said it was heartbreaking that a man who lived as long as Monchnik and chose to stay in Detroit met his end the way he did.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said the word "heinous" didn't begin to describe the slaying of the elderly man, reports Michigan Live.
Detroit police Sgt. Brian Bowser testified that the Monchnik’s cellphone was discovered in the backyard of the Stewart residence next door to the victim on the 20500 block of Bentler a day after the 91-year-old’s corpse was found in his burned down house.
In December, a gas station worker testified Steward purchased 50 cents’ worth of gasoline and a lighter on the morning the victim was killed and set aflame.
Odai Al-Radabi said he recalls when Steward walked into his Sunoco near Eight Mile and Telegraph with a big gas can.
“I saw this guy in the gas station,” Al-Radabi said.
The clerk told Latoya Willis, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor, that Stewart “looked nervous ... scared.” Al-Radabi picked Stewart out of a police lineup and also during the hearing.
Some relatives of Steward also testified last month they recognized him as their relative from a surveillance footage from the gas station.