April 28, 2005

Killer priest?

New York Daily News


On the last day of her life, Irene Garza went to confession.
The lovely 25-year-old drove her father's Ford 12 blocks from her family's home in McAllen, Tex., to their Catholic church, Sacred Heart.

The date was April 16, 1960, the day before Easter Sunday.

Garza enjoyed a modest celebrity among the parishioners, and many people noticed her at the busy church that afternoon.

She had been the first Latina head drum majorette at McAllen High School. She was prom and homecoming queen while studying at Pan American College in nearby Edinburg, and in 1958 she won the title of Miss South Texas.

Her parents, who owned a dry-cleaning business, were admired for raising a proper, devout daughter. She was active in the parish Legion of Mary, and after college she took a job teaching school on the poor, Hispanic side of town.

Garza had made plans with a girlfriend to see a movie that night, and she may have been impatient while waiting in the long confessional line. At some point, she left the church and went to the adjacent rectory, where she made a confession to a young priest, the Rev. John Feit. At 27, he had recently been ordained and was at Sacred Heart for a year of pastoral training.

Feit later said Garza left the rectory at 7:15 p.m.

But she did not return home that night. Her parents called police, and officers found her car still at Sacred Heart.

Five days later her corpse was found in an irrigation canal off the Rio Grande.

The body was clothed except for shoes and underwear. Her blouse had been unbuttoned. She had two black eyes and bruises to her face and genitals. She had been raped.

Posted by kshaw at April 28, 2005 07:30 PM