Michael Douglas Evans — who escaped from Ohio while awaiting trial over repeatedly smashing a man with a hammer — is wanted for questioning in a Miami murder case in which a man was found lying naked and dead inside a Flagler Street motel.
The grisly discovery was made Saturday morning when a worker at the $49-a-night Sun Aire Motel knocked on the door of Room 15 expecting to find Evans and collect rent money. Instead, he found the lifeless body of Joseph Everett Moniz, 46.
A hotel worker “knocked on the door and there was no response. He entered the room and saw a male subject pantless in a puddle of blood lying face down on the floor,” Miami police officer Luis Loureiro wrote in the police incident report.
When police arrived and were informed that the room had been rented by Evans, they quickly found his name on a national arrest warrant database. Evans was wanted by the Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office in Ohio for fleeing the state with his wife and her 7-year daughter. He had cut off an electronic ankle bracelet he was ordered to wear by a judge.
Evans, 30, first came to the attention of law enforcement earlier this year during a police chase in Ohio in which he dove into the Tuscarawas River while trying to escape. He was wanted on attempted murder charges after allegedly bashing a man with a hammer nearly two dozen times. After his arrest, Evans moved into his grandmother’s home in Ohio with his wife Kristy Evans, 34, and her 7-year-old daughter Jala Barnett.
In early May, Evans somehow managed to cut off the GPS device, left his grandmother’s home, then drove with his wife to get his daughter from school before fleeing the state. The family made it to the West Flagler motel, where they stayed until police found Moniz’s body in the same room in which the family had been staying. Police haven’t said where the family was between Evan’s early May arrest and the time they got to the motel.
The manager of the Sun Aire Motel, 4839 W. Flagler St., said another hotel employee found Moniz’s bloodied body in Room 15. Though police wouldn’t confirm it was the same room, hotel manager Felipe Castillo said Tuesday that a hotel employee found Moniz’s body after knocking on the door because the family’s rent was due.
Castillo said Moniz wasn’t registered at the motel and he had no idea why he was there. When police arrived at the motel, there was no sign of Evans or his family. Also missing was Moniz’s car, a blue, 2005 convertible Audi with the temporary license tag BDK 1656. Moniz has a history of drug violations, state records show.
Though police wouldn’t call Evans a suspect, they said they want to talk with him and are concerned for Jala’s safety. They described Evans as clean-shaven with short hair and green eyes. He is five-feet, seven inches tall and weighs between 170 and 180 pounds. He was last seen in a white shirt and beige pants.
Miami detectives made the unusual move Monday night of inviting reporters for a briefing, explaining it’s likely Evans fled in the missing Audi. Also missing: a 2001 Ford Escort with Ohio tag FUT 4068. It’s the car police believe Evans and his family used to flee from Ohio to Florida.
Police Lt. Carlos Castellanes asked for the public’s help, saying even the smallest clue could help find the child. He said police are still trying to determine the relationship between Evans and Moniz.
“The main thing is we received information from Ohio that the child might be in danger. We don’t want anything to happen to the child,” said Miami Police Detective Freddie Burden.
Evans was indicted by a Tuscarawas County grand jury on March 19 on charges of aggravated burglary and assault over the hammer incident. Somehow, during the second week of May, Evans removed the bracelet and fled.
“The grandmother found the ankle bracelet, which had been cut off, and all three of them were gone,” Tuscarawas Deputy Chief Ovis Campbell told TimesReporter.com. Campbell did not return several calls Tuesday.
Tuscarawas police placed Evans’ name in a national arrest warrant database because they said they they had reason to believe he was trying to flee the state, possibly the country.
When Moniz’s body was found at 11 Saturday morning, Evans and his family were nowhere in sight.
Miami Herald staff writer Andres Viglucci contributed to this report.