Detroit Free Press / Newspaper Articles

The Detroit Free Press: 7/7/29

Police Quiz Company That Made Paper ‘Gods’ For Slain ‘Prophet’

Possibility That Benedict Evangelist, “divine prophet,” who was slain Wednesday with his family of five by a maniac who is still at large, had shrines other than that found in the basement at 3587 St. Aubin avenue, appeared last night with the revelation that a decorating company had draped another basement on St. Aubin avenue with green hangings at Evangelist’s request.

While other police officers have refused to divulge the trend of their investigations, it appeared that a governing theory has been advanced by Lieutenant Royal A. Baker, police film censor and mental expert, that the murderer was a degenerate or a mentally deficient person scared into killing the Evangelists through fear of his basement idols.

Suspect Is Released

The decoration work was carried out by the George P. Johnson Flag and Decorating Company, 3529 Gratiot avenue, which also made the papier mache “gods” found in the dead man’s basement. The address on the company’s records was found to be that of a vacant lot, but the employee detailed to the work will point out to detectives on Monday the house in which he made the decorations Evangelist paid for. The employee could not be located last night.

John Ryan, Eugene Street, Fordson, arrested at the combined funerals of the Evangelists yesterday, was released last night. Lieutenant John Navarre, acting head of the homicide squad, said the man knew nothing of the murders and that it was physically impossible for him to have committed them. Ryan weighs about 90 pounds. Dressed in a battered straw hat, without a band, and a much worn suit, Ryan rode a bicycle from Fordson “to see the funeral.”

3,000 Mill About Church

The opal-colored caskets, bearing the mutilated remains of the Evangelist family were carried from the church of San Francisco, Rivard and Brewster streets, to Mt. Olivet cemetery yesterday. A crowd of 3,000 persons, mostly women, milled around the church for several hours for a glimpse of the victims on their last journey, while numerous detectives circulated through the mob searching for a small, heavy set man who has been visualized as the type guilty of the massacre.

Although Lieutenant Navarre, declared that a solution to the mystery would be forthcoming soon, no details of tangible clues were made public. The practical problem facing the piece was to discover what became of the murderer, who must have been drenched with his victims’ blood after he left the Evangelist home at 3587 St. Aubin avenue in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Where did he change his clothes, and how did he dispose of his weapons?

The Newest Developments
The principal developments yesterday were:

A statement by Chief of Detectives Edward H. Fox that three officers, including a finger print expert, had left Detroit for an undisclosed destination, as a result of information received by him.

A statement that the book of crazy theology, the authorship of which has been attributed to Evangelist, was not written by him but by some other lunatic, who is unknown.

Arrest at the Evangelist funeral of a mentally deranged man.

Discovery that the five-year-old victim, whose name was given as Mathilda or Margaret, and who was considered to be a girl, was in fact a boy named Matthew.

A statement by Lieutenant Royal A. Baker, police film censor and expert on mental degeneracy, that the murderer was either a sadist or mentally deficient person, scared into killing the Evangelists to propitiate the grotesque “gods” found in the basement of the “prophet’s” home.

A statement by the George P. Johnson Flag & Decorating company, 3529 Gratiot avenue, that Evangelist paid about $100 for the figures found in his basement and $22.50 for the decoration with green hangings of a basement on St. Aubin avenue, an address which has not hitherto figured in the investigation.

The figures were made by F.J. Martin, 3505 Gratiot Avenue, a papier mache worker, who said he regarded Evangelist as a lunatic. The “prophet,” he said, explained that he wanted the figures for a theatrical entertainment.