DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit police are on the hunt for an alleged arsonist and killer after a 91-year-old man was found dead in his burning home.
Detroit police say Paul Monchnik of Detroit is dead and his 200 Chevy Ventura van, with license plate number CNV 1721, is missing.
Police and fire investigators were on the scene, Monday morning — at a home in the 20500-block of Bentler Street, near 8 Mile Road and Lahser — on the city’s northwest side.
Police deemed the fire “suspicious” and they’re investigating Monchnik’s death as a homicide.
“There was a burglary,” said Detroit Police Chief James Craig, “and we believe that during the suspect’s entry to this home, there was an attack.”
“However, in order for the suspect to cover his tracks, he decided to go leave the location, obtain some gasoline, return and set the victim and the home on fire.”
Sgt. Michael Woody said investigators found that the man’s body was covered with an accelerant, most likely gasoline, and that the man had experienced “potentially fatal trauma” before he was set on fire.
Police released surveillance video from a local gas station which investigators believe shows the suspect. A young black man in a gray hoodie sweatshirt, with what appears to be a red or orange knit hat underneath, is seen buying gas in a gas can, shortly before 3 a.m. Monday.
Police say the suspect is in his 20s, about 5 feet 9 inches tall and was wearing Michigan basketball pants.
Anyone who recognizes the suspect in the video or who has any information about this crime is asked to call Detroit police.
According to family members, Monchnik worked for more than 50 years as a self-employed television repairman before retiring.