Former priest John Bernard Feit [photo], will go on trial for the death of Irene Garza in Edinburg, Texas, 57 years ago. He has consistently denied any involvement in the charges
A former Catholic priest who has long been considered a suspect in the 1960 murder of a Texas beauty queen will stand trial, beginning next week.
John Bernard Feit, was indicted in South Texas’ Hidalgo County, Texas for the murder of Irene Garza.on murder charges in February 2016 in the death of beauty queen, Irene Garza, 57 years ago.
The 25-year-old schoolteacher, Miss All South Texas Sweetheart 1958, vanished in April 1960 after visiting Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen for confession during Holy Week, CBS reports.
A young Fr. John Feit, [right], was tha last person to see Irene Garza [left], alive in April 1960, during Holy Week. Feit was indicted in February 2016 on murder charges for her death of Irene Garza
Her body was found in a canal five days after she disappeared. An autopsy revealed that she had been raped while unconscious and then beaten and suffocated.
Feit, who was a visiting priest at Sacred Heart at the time of Garza’s murder, was questioned by authorities but later ruled out as a suspect after church officials allegedly pressured police to leave him alone, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Feit, had been considered a suspect in the past, and two fellow priests told authorities he confessed to them.
The case against Feit had been derailed by the lack of evidence. As for the Irene Garza case grew cold, Father Feit eventually ended up at various monasteries.
The case had been cold for decades however, in 2002, when newly elected McAllen Police Chief, Victor Rodriguez, decided to reopen the investigation into Irene Garza’s 1960 murder.
With the newly formed cold case unit of the Texas Rangers, handling the investigation, they began interviewing witnesses.
That same year, a former monk Dale Tacheny, came forward telling investigators that John Feit had admitted to him that he had killed a woman in the 1960s around Easter.
25-year-old teacher, Irene Garza, [photo], was killed in McAllen, Tex., around Easter in 1960
Irene Garza’s high-heeled shoe was found on an empty road, two days after she went missing on Saturday Apr 16, 1960. Her purse was found the day after
A source with inside knowledge of the matter, Father Joseph O’Brien, also told investigators that Feit had scratches on his hands around the time Garza vanished. Rev O’Brien, who had been the assistant pastor of the Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, also told police that Feit had made an admission of guilt.
The re-opened case sparked a grand jury probe in 2004, but Feit was never indicted due to a lack of new evidence.
The case went cold again, until it became the center of the 2014 race for Hildago County district attorney. Ricardo Rodriguez, who was running to replace Rene Guerra, promised to re-open the case and bring justice to Garza’s family if he won.
Ms Garza was performing Holy Week rites at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas the day she disappeared
Rodriguez was elected and he requested a new grand jury which led to John Benard Feit, now 83, being indicted in 2016.
The former priest was arrested in February that year at his Arizona home and extradited back to Texas. Since being transferred, Feit has remained at the Hidalgo County jail under 24-hour medical watch because of his health.
The trial is set to begin with opening arguments at the end of the week.
Feit has repeatedly denied his involvement in Garza’s death.
Former priest John Bernard Feit will go to trial for the death of Irene Garza, next week. He has been held in custody since his indictment in 2016
Maria America Guerra, [left], fought off an attack from a man she thought looked like John Feit [right]
John Feit stood trial [photo] in Austin, Tex., charged with assault with intent to rape Ms Guerra in 1961. After a hung jury, Feit later pled no contest to a reduced charge of aggravated assault
Investigators revealed their interest in Feit was rekindled on learning of another similar attack involving Feit at about the same time.
Father John Feit had been put on trial, and courtesy of a hung jury, had pled down an attack on another woman that occurred three weeks before Irene Garza’s murder.
In February Maria America Guerra allegedly, fought off an attack from a man she thought looked like a priest inside a church in Edinburg, Texas.
In May 1960, Maria America Guerra picked out Father John Feit from a police lineup.
In 1961, Father Feit stood trial in Austin charged with assault with intent to rape Maria America Guerra. The jury deadlocked 9 to 3 in favor of conviction.
Rather than face another trial, Feit later pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of aggravated assault and was fined $500.