House on fire
Suspect obtained some gasoline and set the victim and home on fireGetty Images

A 91-year-old Detroit man was beaten, doused with gasoline and burnt alive by a burglar who wanted to cover his tracks after he stole the victim's van. While authorities reached the spot thinking it was a fire, only after inspecting the body did they conclude that Paul Monchnik, a retired TV repairman, had in fact been murdered.

"This is a horrible crime, we're asking for your help. We do know there was a burglary. We believe during the suspect's entry into this home, there was an attack. However, in order for the suspect to cover his tracks, he decided to leave the location, obtain some gasoline, return and set the victim and home on fire and fled with his van," said police chief James Craig. The killer stole the victim's 2000 silver Chevrolet van and drove to a nearby gas station where the CCTV managed to capture him.

The suspect has been described as a black man in his early 20s, 5-foot 9-inches, with a medium complexion and was last seen wearing a red or orange skull cap, with a grey hoodie and University of Michigan basketball pants. The stolen van's licence plate is CNU1721, according to the police.

Monchnik used to live alone, and according to his son Scott Monchnik who lives in suburban Detroit, he was also partly deaf. Scott said it was unlikely the van was borrowed with his father's permission as he had spoken with his father on Sunday (22 November) and was told the keys to the van were missing. In total disbelief and shock about what had happened, Scott told the Detroit news: "I hear these stories everyday on my way to work, and think I'm glad it's not my dad. And this morning it was."