HALETHORPE, Md. - Standing in a pew at St. Clement's Catholic Church in Lansdowne was a normal spot for Willard Rykowski. The 80-year-old collected and counted money offered during mass, and he lit the candles on the altar.
"Because he was tall, he was the fella that always filled up our candles with oil," said Deacon Paul Gifford.
Rykowski lived alone, and by Tuesday his church family was concerned.
"It was in the afternoon when a couple of parishioners came in and said they had been trying to contact him and he didn't answer his phone one of them actually went to the house, knocked on the door several times. He didn't answer," Gifford said.
The Mustang he drove was outside but still there was no answer at the door. So police did a welfare check and found Rykowski dead, stabbed multiple times.
He was seen at church on Monday. On Friday, he was spotted at the Lansdowne Inn where he was also "ole' faithful."
"He usually came on Monday nights when I had the pot roast, he loved that," said Peter Panselinos, owner of the Lansdowne Inn.
“Well, he was living alone, maybe so he could get money,” said Panselinos when asked if anyone would target him.
Detectives were going inside the home on 3rd Ave. in Halethorpe again Wednesday afternoon. Neighbors say Rykowski was meticulous, so it stood out when the blinds were messed up. Rykowski was pronounced dead inside his home.
"To lose somebody that way, it's hard to take. I really spent a lot of time last night praying about it and reflecting on it and then praying for Will and his family," Gifford said.
Gifford says Rykowski leaves behind two sons and a daughter. Police don't know when he was killed, but an autopsy will determine how long he was dead.
Metro Crime Stoppers asks that you call 1-866-7LOCKUP if you can help pinpoint a motive and a suspect.