Ex-Priest May Have Been Murdered

By Pat Kinney
Courier [Waterloo IA]
March 2, 2005

WATERLOO --- A defrocked former Evansdale priest who died in Mexico last month may have been murdered, U.S. State Department officials have told U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley's office.

Mexican authorities are investigating the death of former priest Robert Reiss "as a possible murder/robbery," said a spokesman for Grassley, whose office contacted the State Department in response to a request from the Courier.

"Our embassy is continuing to monitor the the case and has requested information from Mexican authorities as the investigation proceeds forward," Grassley spokesman Dustin Vande Hoef said. No additional details were available.Reiss, 75, died Feb. 3 in Chilpancingo, Guerrero, Mexico. Chilpancingo is a city of 380,000 between Mexico City and Acapulco and is the capital of the Mexican state of Guerrero.

Reiss, ordained a priest in 1955, served at St. Nicholas Church in Evansdale from 1971 to 1974. He also served at Northeast Iowa parishes in Fort Atkinson, Nashua and Stacyville as well as other eastern Iowa communities over a 35-year career.

Pope John Paul II defrocked him on Sept. 29, 1997 in connection with complaints of sexual abuse against minors.

"Some may remember his priestly service with gratitude. Others claim they were abused by him," Archbishop Jerome Hanus wrote in a press release last week announcing Reiss' death, encouraging all clergy sex abuse victims to contact the archdiocese for help.

The archdiocese's release provided no information as to when or where alleged abuse incidents occurred. It is apparently the archdiocese's first public disclosure that a priest was defrocked in connection with sexual abuse complaints.


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