Witness in 1960 Murder Case Speaks out to "48 Hours"

CBS News
April 15, 2016

A former monk who says the suspect in the 1960 murder of a Texas beauty queen admitted the crime to him speaks out on Saturday's episode of "48 Hours."

In a 2002 letter to San Antonio police, Dale Tacheny said he was in a monastery in the 1960s with former priest John Feit when Feit admitted to him that he had killed a woman. Feit is accused of killing 25-year-old Irene Garza, who vanished 56 years ago after Feit heard her confession at a McAllen, Texas church during Easter weekend.

Days later, she was found dead in a canal.

Though Feit has long been suspected in Garza's murder, it wasn't until February of 2016 that a Hidalgo County, Texas grand jury returned a murder indictment against him.Now an 83-year-old grandfather, Feit was arrested in Scottsdale, Arizona and was extradited back to Texas to face the charge.

In the episode "The Last Confession," which airs Saturday on CBS, Tacheny tells "48 Hours" he kept quiet about Feit's alleged admission for years.

"I covered up the evidence," Tacheny says. "I'm sorry for what I did."

Tacheny reads excerpts of his 2002 letter to police during Saturday's episode. In it, he says Feit admitted to him during a counseling session at a Missouri Trappist monastery that he had killed a young woman in San Antonio. Feit denies the allegations, and has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.

According to Tacheny, Feit said the woman was in her early 20s and that the murder happened around Easter, after he heard her confession.

"He assaulted her, bound her and gagged her," Tacheny says, reading from the letter to police. "...Later, I do not remember if it was hours or days, he moved her to another location, and after some time he placed her in a cellophane bag and put her into a bathtub. As he left, he could hear her saying, 'I can't breathe, I can't breathe.'"

According to Tacheny, Feit said when he returned, the woman was dead. Feit allegedly said he disposed of the woman's body along a roadway.

In announcing the grand jury indictment against Feit in March Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez said there was new evidence in the case, but didn't go into detail.

"Today we can say that after a long wait of approximately 56 years, it's the beginning of bringing justice to the community," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said he's confident that after a jury hears the case, "we will get past the threshold of beyond a reasonable doubt."

Garza's family is hoping they'll see Feit stand trial. Tacheny tells "48 Hours" he expects to testify.

"I got a job to do now," he says. "And a moral obligation I feel to be there."

"The Last Confession" airs Saturday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.








Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.