Inside the Trial of Former Priest Charged with 1960 Murder of Texas Schoolteacher

48 Hours – CBS News

January 27, 2018

Produced by Lourdes Aguiar, Josh Gaynor and Ruth Chenetz

[Includes links to videos]

After 57 years, a former priest is on trial for murdering a young woman who had gone to him for confession — did the church conspire with authorities to cover it up?

It was April 1960 in McAllen, Texas, when Irene Garza, 25, told her family she was going to church for confession. She never returned. Five days later, her body was found dumped in a canal. Police say she was beaten, sexually assaulted and suffocated. Investigators kept turning to one person – Father John Feit, then 27, who admitted hearing Garza’s last confession in the church rectory. Investigators grew more suspicious when they learned that three weeks before Irene’s murder, another young woman had been attacked in a nearby church. That woman later identified Feit as her attacker.

Feit would eventually plead no contest to aggravated assault in that case and was fined $500, but the investigation in the Irene Garza murder eventually stopped and the case went cold. For decades, rumors swirled that there had been a conspiracy between the authorities and the Church to cover up the crime. The case was reopened in 2002 when the McAllen Police Department asked the Texas Rangers’ cold case unit to re-examine the murder. The investigation took a turn when a former monk, Dale Tacheny, told police that back in 1963 when he was counseling novice monks at a monastery, Feit had admitted to killing a young woman on Easter weekend. Another priest also came forward saying Feit had made a similar admission to him as well. Yet the former district attorney at the time, Rene Guerra, didn’t find the new witnesses credible and the case would go nowhere. Irene Garza’s family felt they had been denied justice again. In 2014, when confronted by “48Hours” about the allegations, Feit told “48 Hours” correspondent Richard Schlesinger he didn’t kill Garza and did not know who did.

Shortly after “The Last Confession” –“48 Hours”‘ first broadcast on the case — aired 2014, a new district attorney was elected who promised to look into the case. On Feb. 9, 2016, Feit was arrested in Scottsdale, Ariz. and charged with murder.

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