A church sexton was found fatally stabbed inside a Baltimore house of worship and investigators are desperately trying to track down her killer, police said.
Evelyn Player, 69, was found dead early Tuesday inside a bathroom at Southern Baptist Church in East Baltimore, where police said she had arrived just after sunrise to let in construction workers, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison told reporters the longtime church sexton was discovered in the bathroom by a maintenance worker about an hour after she arrived.
Player was identified as the victim by her daughter, Alethea Finch, who is struggling to process her mother’s violent death inside the church where she worshipped for decades.
“Who would want to hurt my mother?” Finch said during an interview with the Sun. “How could someone hurt someone in such a sacred place? My heart’s broken into a million pieces. I don’t understand why this happened.”
Police did not indicate a possible motive in the slaying or potential suspects Wednesday. A police spokesman told The Post the investigation into Player’s killing remains ongoing.
Finch said her mother — who served as a custodian at the church — had attended Southern Baptist since she was a child and picked up a shift for a friend Tuesday morning as the church underwent renovation.
“Because her friend needed help, that’s what she did,” Finch told WMAR. “She offered her hand and went to help a friend … It’s disturbing that you are not even safe in a church.”
The city’s police commissioner and Mayor Brandon Scott called on anyone with information in the slaying to speak to investigators.
“We know for a fact people were around,” Harrison told reporters. “We implore you to call us, we beg you to call us right now.”
Scott characterized Player’s slaying as a “brazen” and cowardly act while saying the case was a top priority for police, WBAL-TV reported.
“This is not OK, and none of us should be OK,” Scott said Tuesday. “Her family is four generations strong at Southern, and all of our hearts should be breaking.”
Councilman Robert Stokes also called on cops to track down the person responsible for the retiree’s “heinous” slaying.
“I think this is a sad day in this community,” Stokes told WBAL-TV. “How do you kill somebody in a church?”
Rev. Donte Hickman, pastor of the 4,000-member church, said Player often brought her daughter and grandson to services. She sang in the choir and helped in the church’s COVID-19 vaccine and testing clinics, as well as being known as “The Sheriff” for keeping order at Southern Baptist.
“It’s just unthinkable,” Hickman told the Sun. “We pray that whoever the culprit is, is brought to justice. But we want them to know that our work and mission will continue.”