Former priest pleaded not guilty to 1960 death of McAllen schoolteacher

The Monitor
March 14, 2016

John Feit looks looks over his indictment for the murder of Irene Garza as it is held by attorney O. Rene Flores during his arraignment Monday March 14, 2016 in the 92nd State District Court at the Hidalgo County Courthouse in Edinburg. photo by Nathan

With the help of a walker, 83-year-old former priest John Feit entered the courtroom Monday morning to face an Hidalgo County judge for the first time in connection with the 1960 rape and murder of Irene Garza. 

After nearly 56 years of being suspected in 25-year-old Garza's death, John Feit pleaded not guilty to murder before 92nd State District Court Judge Luis Singleterry who set his bond at $1 million.

Feit is accused in the April 1960 death of Garza, a schoolteacher and beauty queen who was last seen going to confession at McAllen's Sacred Heart Church. Her body was found five days later after being dumped in a canal. 

During the initial investigation officers linked Feit to Garza's death after finding evidence and placing him at the church the night she disappeared. Feit was never charged in this case and was moved out of state by the church, documents show.

Feit was living in Arizona when he was arrested in February in connection to Garza's death after a grand jury in Hidalgo County found there was enough evidence to prosecute him.

He arrived last week after being extradited from Maricopa County and flown back to The Rio Grande Valley. If convicted of first degree murder Feit could face up to 99 years in prison.


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