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Churchgoers Outraged By Murder Of Baltimore Church Employee

UPDATE (11/18): A person of interest is sought in Player's death, police confirmed. Learn more here. 

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Authorities are ratcheting up efforts to find whomever killed Evelyn Player, the 69-year-old Baltimore woman found dead Tuesday morning inside Southern Baptist Church.

Gov. Larry Hogan has announced a $100,000 reward for tips leading to an arrest in Player's murder and challenged the city to match it. He ordered law enforcement agencies statewide to assist with the investigation and directed police to ramp up patrols within the city.

Player was found stabbed to death in a bathroom inside the East Baltimore church shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday, about an hour after she let contractors in to perform renovation work inside the church, police said. No information about a motive or suspect in the case has been released.

"The murder of a 69-year-old grandmother inside a church in East Baltimore has shaken city residents and community leaders to the core," Hogan said in part. " … As we work to bring swift justice, Evelyn's family and loved ones are in our prayers."

People gathered at the church Wednesday told WJZ they couldn't fathom why anyone would commit such a crime, particularly one that took the life of a mother and grandmother who was a dedicated member of her church.

Player has been described as a fixture at the church and a longtime employee. Friends who asked to remain anonymous said she would routinely greet them with a smile and a hug before asking how they were doing.

"This just goes to show that they will go as far as right here taking a life in the house of God. So how far will Baltimore authorities go to protect the citizens?" wondered one resident, who did not wish to be identified.

"It is terrible that people have to be hurt and killed for what?" another resident added.

Pastor Donte Hickman said Player's family has been part of Southern Baptist Church for four generations. He said Player had been a member of the church for 40-50 years, saying she served to the very end.

"On that particular day, she got here earlier than she would normally come, before the mail sextons got here, perhaps to pray," the pastor told WJZ. "And to have her life taken like that in the church and in the community that we love is really heartbreaking."

In a Facebook post, Player's daughter shared the last text message she received from her mother before she was found dead. "GM, I am here, Have a Great Day…Love you," Player wrote. To which her daughter replied, "Love you too."

Mayor Brandon Scott, who has called for the killer to come forward, vowed that law enforcement would track down Player's killer(s) and bring them to justice.

"We are going to find who killed this woman," Scott said. "We are going to go out and make sure that we hold this persona accountable. That's what we are focusing on."

Anyone with information about Player's killing is asked to contact Baltimore Police homicide detectives by calling 410-396-2100. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP.

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