56 Years Later, Catholic Priest Arrested for Beauty Queen Murder

Fifty six years ago, Irene Garza was a young beauty queen with a college education. At 25, she had already accomplished what many couldn’t living on the Texas-Mexico border. Her life ended too soon.

Garza was last seen at Sacred Heart church where she had gone for confession. On April 16, 1960, a few days later, Garza’s body was discovered asphyxiated, beaten and raped in an irrigation canal. The man accused of her murder, Father John Feit, however he was never tried and the case grew cold.

Nearly 56 years later, Feit, 83, has been arrested arrested for her killing according to the New York Times. In court, Feit seem confused, “this whole thing makes no sense, because the crime in question took place in 1960,” he said (even though there’s no statute of limitation for that sort of crime).

This isn’t the first time Feit has had to plead his innocence. The cold case had been a hot topic during the 2014 district attorney race for Hidalgo County. Ricardo Rodriguez Jr. won the election, in part, because he promised to bring justice for the Garza family. In turn, they supported his campaign.

“We care about justice for Irene Garza. We care about violence against women. We care that those from the highest to the lowest stations in life receive the same equal dignity and attention that is merited by our legal system,” said Lynda Y. de la Viña, the victim’s cousin, while calling out for votes for Rodriguez.

During Feit’s time in a monastery for troubled priests, where the Catholic Church had placed him, Feit had talked to Dale Tacheny, a Trappist monk who served as his counselor, and told him that he “had killed someone.” Even though Tacheny didn’t ask him for details, Feit admitted to killing a young girl in Texas.

In 2002, Tacheny finally talked to the authorities but Rene Guerra, district attorney at the time, did nothing to indict the priest. Rodriguez, the current district attorney, recently voted to indict Feit. Now, the former priest’s bail is set at $750,000 as he sits in jail.

Read more about the 56-year-old crime from The New York Times here.

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