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Charging Documents Say Evelyn Player Died Defending Herself, Police Found Suspect Through DNA

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A 69-year-old woman found dead November in an East Baltimore church died fighting for her life, according to charging documents acquired by WJZ.

Her suspected killer, identified as 62-year-old Manzie Smith Jr., was arrested Wednesday. The charging documents say he was tracked down through DNA evidence recovered from the scene.

Evelyn Player was found stabbed to death in a bathroom at Southern Baptist Church about 7:30 a.m. Nov. 16, an hour after she had let contractors into the building for church renovations.

An autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner revealed Player had sustained multiple stab wounds, including defense wounds on both of her hands. Officials said the hand wounds indicate she was attacked and was defending herself.

DNA recovered from the scene was analyzed by the Forensic Biology Unit of the Baltimore Police Department, where investigators uncovered a male DNA profile on Player's body. Police ran that profile through the State of Maryland DNA database, which lead them to Smith.

Court records show Smith has a criminal history with his most recent conviction being for robbery in 2014. He was convicted of rape and assault in 1992. He is being held without bail while awaiting trial in Player's murder.

Officials have not revealed a motive in the killing, but Mayor Brandon Scott said the murder was not drug-related or connected to any violent groups. Police said they do not believe Player was sexually assaulted.


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