Evelyn Player, a 69-year-old retiree, was found stabbed to death Tuesday morning inside the Southern Baptist Church in East Baltimore, Maryland, where she volunteered and her family worshiped for four generations.
At a press conference Tuesday, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott called Player’s death inside the independent multi-campus church an “unspeakable, cowardly murder.” He described her as a “dedicated member and staff member” of Southern Baptist Church and her killer as “cowardice scum.”
“This is not OK. None of us should be OK. Her family is four generations strong at Southern. … Solving this unfathomable, unthinkable cowardly act is now priority No. 1 for the Baltimore Police Department,” said Scott.
The visibly upset mayor said that while he is confident the police will “absolutely close this case,” members of the Baltimore community should be doing what they can to bring Player’s killer to justice.
“I don’t care if this person is your son, your husband, your boyfriend, your daughter, your uncle, your aunt. You should turn this person in because if we’re OK with someone this cowardly murdering someone that could be your grandmother, that could be someone else’s grandmother, then what are we willing to stand up for?” Scott asked.
“We cannot continue to allow folks to do that in a church — not outside the church, not walking down the street, in a church. Think about how brazen it is. Think about the lack of care in life that someone has to do [that to a] a senior in a church. That’s what we all should be thinking about today.”
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael S. Harrison said Player entered the church at around 6 a.m. Tuesday and unlocked the doors, as usual, to allow contractors renovating the church to enter.
“Somewhere around 6:50, we know she was found inside of the bathroom there in her work area dead, where she had been attacked,” Harrison said.
“I am with the mayor. If somebody saw something, heard something or knows something, please call us right away.”
Church administrator Diane Lashley told The Baltimore Sun that another church employee found Player’s body and called police around 7:20 a.m. When contacted by The Christian Post on Wednesday, Lashley said she could not immediately speak about the situation.
Player’s daughter, Alethea Finch, told the publication her mother was a devoted member of Southern Baptist Church and a retired office worker at the medical publishing company Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
“Who would want to hurt my mother?” Finch asked through tears. “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.”
Friends and neighbors described Player as a “beautiful person,” according to CBS Baltimore, and also expressed shock that she was killed inside the church.
“A murder in a church? Why? That is supposed to be a safe space. Why?” said neighbor Delise Lynch.
“She was a beautiful person,” one friend, who asked to remain anonymous, said. “This is devastating to know something like this could happen to just a lovely person. It’s just devastating.”