March 12, 2006

Parishioner says priest was agitated on day of slayings

Appleton Post-Crescent

The Associated Press

HUDSON A late priest who a judge ruled likely had killed two funeral home workers was "very agitated and acted strange" when he celebrated mass the day the two men died.

The comments by Laura Becker, a member of St. Patrick's Catholic Church, concerning the Rev. Ryan Erickson were in the latest batch of transcripts of interviews released by the Hudson city attorney in the case and reviewed by the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Erickson was a priest at St. Patrick's when Dan O'Connell, 39, and James Ellison, 22, were fatally shot on Feb. 5, 2002, at the O'Connell Family Funeral Home.

St. Croix County Circuit Judge Eric Lundell ruled last October there was probable cause that Erickson shot the two men. O'Connell was a member of the church, and Dist. Atty. Eric Johnson said evidence suggested he found out the priest was sexually abusing someone, was providing alcohol to minors, or both.

Erickson later hanged himself outside St. Mary's Church in Hurley.

Posted by kshaw at March 12, 2006 07:35 AM