Father John Feit has been finally convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murder of Irene Garza, which happened in the 1960. Almost 60 years after a terrible murder, the killer is sentenced. Although much time has passed, it is better late than never.
Feit, a former priest who is now 84-years-old, killed Garza, a school teacher and beauty pageant winner, when she came to him for confession. She trusted him and that led her to death. In April 1960 in McAllen, Texas, Irene Garza, 25, told her family she was going to church for confession and she never returned.
Five days later, her body was found dumped in a canal. Police say she was beaten, sexually assaulted and suffocated. Investigators kept turning to one person — Father John Feit, then 27, who admitted hearing Garza’s last confession in the church rectory. Investigators grew more suspicious when they learned that three weeks before Irene’s murder, another young woman had been attacked in a nearby church. That woman later identified Feit as her attacker.
Feit would eventually plead no contest to aggravated assault in that case and was fined $500, but the investigation in the Irene Garza murder eventually stopped and the case went cold.
In 2002 when the McAllen Police Department asked the Texas Rangers' cold case unit to re-examine the murder, new evidences against Feit have emerged. A former monk, Dale Tacheny, told police that back in 1963 when he was counseling novice monks at a monastery, Feit had admitted to killing a young woman on Easter weekend. Another priest also came forward saying Feit had made a similar admission to him as well. Those witnesses weren’t found credible. On Feb. 9, 2016, Feit was arrested in Scottsdale, Ariz. and charged with murder.
"There may be people who don't understand why an old man is being prosecuted," says Mike Garza, Hidalgo County Assistant District Attorney. "But make no mistake. This is an evil man. He was a predator. He's a wolf in priest's clothing -- looking to attack." After years of suspicion about Feit’s possible role in the murder and rumors about a potential conspiracy between the church and local authorities, the prosecutors presented proof:
In a letter written in 1960 from one church official to another, Garza says this is proof that the Church and the Catholic sheriff at the time, E.E. Vickers, conspired to undermine the Irene Garza investigation.
Mike Garza: And at some point the sheriff would meet with the D.A. and explain to him what a weak case they had against him in an effort to get it dropped.
In the letter, they were concerned about how the case might not only affect the Church, but also the campaign of Catholic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy.
The reputation of the church or political candidates must not be placed in front of people's lives under any circumstances, but, unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened in this case. Despite the sentencing, Father John Feit still maintains his innocence.
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