Press Releases

Manzie Smith pled guilty to the First Degree Murder of Evelyn Player

Baltimore, Md. (January 17, 2023) - Today, a Baltimore City judge sentenced Manzie Smith to Life, suspending all but 50 years, with five years of supervised probation, for the fatal stabbing of Evelyn Player at Southern Baptist Church on November 16, 2021. Smith pled guilty to one count of First Degree Murder. Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Stock prosecuted this case. 

“This case was deeply traumatic for everyone in the community and especially for the family of Evelyn Player, a matriarch of the neighborhood, who can never be replaced,” said State’s Attorney Ivan J. Bates. “This plea allows the family to receive closure and process their grief, resulting in a lengthy sentence that will ensure this dangerous individual never returns to the streets of our city again.”

On November 16, 2021, at approximately 7:17 a.m., two employees entered Southern Baptist Church on the 1700 block of N. Chester Street. They called 9-1-1 after finding Evelyn Player severely injured in a locked bathroom on the church’s first floor. Medics arrived and pronounced Ms. Player deceased at 7:30 a.m. Officers began investigating the crime scene, predominantly contained within the bathroom where the victim had been stabbed. There was additional blood evidence located throughout the church.

The investigation revealed that Ms. Player had clocked into the church at 6:03 a.m., unlocking the side door and leaving it propped with a cone for the workers. Her belongings, including her cell phone, were at the front desk. When the first worker arrived, he came in through the propped door, yelled hello, and began his work without getting a response or seeing Ms. Player. The second worker arrived at the church around 7:00 a.m. and noticed that the chapel lights were not on, something Ms. Player usually did upon her arrival. When he saw her belongings at the desk, he began looking for her. He found the handicapped bathroom locked, so he used his key to open it and found Ms. Player in the bathroom.

The autopsy revealed that the victim died from multiple sharp force injuries. There were 38 stab wounds, primarily to her face, neck, and chest, and 54 cutting wounds, primarily to her face, neck, and hands. There was evidence of defensive wounds on her extremities. Clippings from her fingernails were submitted with other evidence for possible DNA.

The crime scene was processed by several crime lab technicians, who collected several suspected blood swabs from the bathroom, the door knobs, the light switch panel, other entries, and a piece of cardboard that had suspected blood on it found outside of the bathroom.

The DNA evidence was submitted for testing, and three items contained a mixture of the victim’s DNA and that of Manzie Smith. Additionally, security footage revealed several images of an individual approaching the church, entering at 6:11 a.m. and leaving at 6:29 a.m.

Smith pawned two jewelry items on November 18, 2021, using his own I.D. Those items, which included two gold rings, were identified as belonging to Ms. Player. Smith was questioned on December 2, 2021, by Baltimore Police detectives who noted visible injuries to Smith’s right hand, right arm, and chest.