Police have arrested a suspect in the murder of a 91-year-old Michigan man they say was beaten and then doused with gasoline before he and his home were set on fire.
Officials announced that a suspect in the murder of Paul Monchnik was arrested Tuesday, a day after the retired TV repairman and World War II veteran was found dead in his burning northwest Detroit home.
“We do have a suspect in custody, and this is just a part of a closed chapter for that family that is still grieving,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at a news conference
Police had released surveillance video they say shows a suspect driving Monchnik’s 2000 silver Chevrolet minivan to a nearby gas station, where they then bought a canister of gasoline.
Southfield Police found Monchnik’s vehicle in the city of Detroit, Craig said.
“These investigators have literally been going ever since (the murder),” Craig said. “This is a case we need to bring some closure to.”
He declined to go into specifics of the arrest or discuss if the arrest was connected to a search warrant executed on a home near Monchnik’s house earlier in the day.
“We just wanted to reassure the public that we do have a suspect in custody,” he said, offering his condolences to the victim’s family. “Our heart and prayers go out to them… for the loss of their father."
Since he was a little boy, Monchnik called Detroit home and prided himself in knowing his city inside and out, family said.
“He came over as an immigrant when he was about eight from Poland,” his son, Scott Monchnik, 56, told INSIDE EDITION. “He went to school in Detroit, then he went off to World War II. He was in the Army; he made it through the war.”
When he returned, Monchnik went to school to become a television repairman and started his own business, his son said.
“He was always in Detroit. He went into people’s houses and fixed their TVs. He knew every street in the city, and it’s a big city,” Scott Monchnik said. “He was kind and open-minded… He had no prejudice, he had no malice and he was a kind-hearted man.
“He worked very, very hard to support his wife and his family and he wanted to live to be 100 and this kid cut that short,” Scott Monchnik said.
“And that’s one of the hardest parts. He didn’t get to pass away quietly in his sleep as an old man,” he continued. “His life was cut short by a senseless, meaningless crime. There were no values, nothing valuable in the house. It was an old car with very little to no value. There was no point and there’s no reason, no way of understanding why this happened.”
Scott Monchnik last spoke to his father Sunday night and the men last saw each other Thursday.
“We made plans for me to pick him up for Thanksgiving. He was all excited for that; he loved getting together with the family,” he said.
Monchnik had three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren whom he had met for the first time two weeks ago.
“That was a beautiful, wonderful thing and now this happened,” Scott Monchnik said.
He said his father had lived alone since his mother’s passing in 2007, but it was of little concern for the family whose patriarch was still fiercely independent.
“Other than his hearing, he was in good health. He took no meds. At the end of the day, his strength was enough that he would be here for another number of years. He wasn’t close to death at all,” his grieving son said.
A motive for the crime was not immediately clear.