UNSOLVED MICHIGAN CRIME: The 1929 Evangelist Axe Murders
2019 marks 90 years since one of Michigan’s most heinous, unsolved murders.
It was on a night in early July 1929, when Benny Evangelist, 43, his wife, Santina, 36, their four children, Angeline, 8, Matilda, 5, Jay, 3 and their 18-month-old son, Morrio, were all viciously murdered with an axe. Their bodies were discovered the next day by a neighbor. Benny was found still sitting at his desk and nearly decapitated, while other reports said his head was completely severed and sitting next to him on the floor by his chair. The rest of the family were murdered while sleeping in bed.
Benny was a self-proclaimed leader of a cult, and claimed he could heal through mystic powers, some of which were believed to be black magic. He also claimed to be a prophet and wrote a book, "The Oldest History of the World: Discovered by Occult Science".
What’s even weirder is what he had in his basement: a homemade church with human dummies made out of wax hanging from the ceiling, arranged in a way that was supposed to symbolize "celestial planets".
Naturally, this behavior made some enemies for Benny, many of them believing they were cheated out of their money with his sermons, potions, and healing powers.
According to the July 3, 1929 edition of the Associated Press:
"Sitting before his desk, which also served as an altar, his hands folded as though in prayer, the body of Benny Evangelist, mystic healer and religious fanatic, was found shortly before noon on Wednesday. The head lay on the floor beside the chair. The bodies of his wife and four children found upstairs, their skulls crushed. Police are working on the theory that Evangelist was the victim of a second religious fanatic, It is believed the slayings took place about midnight."
No weapon was found, there were false arrests, misinformation and confessions…nothing panned out. One frequent guest at the house was even arrested with a bloody knife in his possession but no evidence was prevalent that he was the murderer.
The house where the Evangelist family was murdered 90 years ago has been demolished now for decades, as is the rest of the neighboring homes. Nowadays, locals believe the land is haunted, reportedly by Benny himself. Witnesses have reported seeing the shape of a headless man wandering the property; others have heard voices out of nowhere and screams with no origin.
The murder site is near the corner of St. Aubin & Mack streets in a Detroit neighborhood. (SEE PHOTOS).
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