Detroit Free Press / Newspaper Articles

The Detroit Free Press: 7/31/29


Deal to Buy Lumber on Eve Of Murders Bared;
Truckman May Hold Secret

The answers to two questions, raised for the first time yesterday, may point to the murdered of Benny Evangelist, his wife and four children in their home at 3587 St. Aubin avenue a month ago.

New information, unearthed yesterday by Free Press reporters, showed that on the evening of July 2, the day before the six mutilated bodies were discovered, Evangelist appeared at an address on Huribut avenue, near Vernor highway, where a house was being torn down, and arranged for the transportation of a quantity of second hand lumber he was buying from the house wrecker.

Truck Failed to Arrive

He arrived there with a friend between 8 and 9 p. m. and told the watchman he would have a truck call for the material at 7 a. m. the next day. He also said he would be there himself to pay for the lumber.

Why Evangelist did not show up with the money at the time of the appointment is no mystery. He was dead. But the question, which-if it is answered-may lead to the solution of the crime, is: Why did the truck fail to arrive?

The second question which has, so far, balked further investigation, is that of the name of the cartage company which Evangelist had employed. He did not mention it to the watchman, although he gave the impression that he already had negotiated with the company. The haul in question was a distance of some 60 miles to Evangelist’s farm and not the kind of a job one would be likely to ask a trucking company to undertake on short notice.

Furnishes Robbery Motive

Evangelist’s body was not found until more than three hours after his unkempt appointment with the house wrecker. It is impossible that newspaper accounts of the murders could have acquainted the truckers with the fact that Evangelist was dead and that to remove the lumber was useless. One explanation might be that a truck driver had called upon Evangelist at his home before going after the lumber, discovered the bodies and had decided that it would be safer to keep silence about what he had found.

Another bit of information provides the motive of robbery for the crime. Since there would have been no opportunity to draw money from the bank between the time he talked to the night watchman and the time that he had promised to pay the money, about $200, for the lumber,the murdered man must have had the money on his person at the time of the murders.

No Money in Home

No money was found either in the house or on Evangelist’s body when the murders eventually were discovered. As a matter of fact, the sum which he had on hand before the murder probably exceeded the sum he was able to pay for the lumber by several hundred dollars, since Vincent Elias, who had sold him his farm, was calling for a second payment when he walked into the scene of the massacre.

A man, who was with Evangelist when he spoke to the watchman about the lumber, was arrested as a suspect but released after questioning. He said he parted from Evangelist soon after this conversation with the watchman.

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