Things That Matter

56 Years Later, Catholic Priest Arrested for Beauty Queen Murder

Credit: Justice For Irene Garza / Facebook

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.

READ: Innocent Latino Shot “Execution Style” By US Marshals

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5 Unsolved Murders That Have Left Families Shattered As They Search For Answers

Things That Matter

5 Unsolved Murders That Have Left Families Shattered As They Search For Answers

Hundreds of murder cases remain unsolved every year in the United States. Many families of Latino victims are still waiting for justice for their loved ones. Here are some cases that are cold or were cold for decades and being worked on my police departments across the country.

Josue Flores’ brutal stabbing in Houston, Texas.

In 2016, 11-year-old Josue Flores was stabbed to death while walking home from school. The young child was stabbed 20 times by an unknown assailant. Over the years, suspects have been questioned and detained. However, evidence and the lack of evidence has led to charges being dropped against those accused. The case remains unsolved but prompted a response from the community to make sure children walking home from school are safe.

The shooting death of Salvador Chavez in Kansas City, Missouri.

CREDIT: Kansas City Police Department

Nineteen years ago, Salvador Chavez was shot in Kansas City and pronounced dead at the scene when officers arrived. The police department has still not found his killer. Not a lot is known about his death, which occurred in 1999. Police were called to the scene by witnesses who heard gun shots but didn’t see what happened.

The shooting murder of Carlos Valladares in Miami, Florida.

CREDIT: Daniel Reichert

In 1992, Carlos Valladares left his jewelry shop to get a coffee with an unidentified man in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. When two men went to search for him at the store, the doors were locked and they eventually found Valladares fatally shot inside at the back of the store. After identifying the man whom Valladares had coffee with from tips, police never found enough evidence to tie the man he was having coffee with to his murder. It is still an unsolved crime that haunts one of the cops who worked on the case.

The shooting death of Joshua Rodriguez in Dallas, Texas.

CREDIT: NBCDFW

In 2015, a night that was supposed to be filled with happiness at a Dallas-area high school graduation party, turned into terror when gunfire erupted at the party. According to reports, a fight broke out at the party and someone fired an assault rifle into the crowd from the street. Twenty one-year-old Joshua Rodriguez was shot dead. Three years later, detectives and police are still trying to bring justice to the victim’s family and find his murderer.

Death of beauty queen Irene Garza in McAllen, Texas.

CREDIT: CNN / YouTube

Sometimes after years or even decades of going cold, a break in the case helps a victim’s family finally gain the peace and justice they were looking for. This happened in the 1960 murder case of beauty queen and teacher Irene Garza, whose body was found in a canal days after last attending church in McAllen, Texas. Former priest John Feit was convicted of raping and strangling the 25-year-old woman after she went to church to confess her sins.


READ: Texas Law Enforcement Authorities Have Charged A Border Patrol Agent With The Murder Of A Mother And Young Child On The Border

Are there unsolved cases of a Latino victim you know? Let us know in the comments below.

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