Suspect: I Killed Priest to 'Save the Children'

By Denise Lavoie
Chicago Sun-Times
January 9, 2006

BOSTON -- The question for jurors won't be whether Joseph Druce killed convicted pedophile priest John Geoghan, who was beaten and strangled in his prison cell, but whether he should be held criminally responsible.

Prison officials said they found Druce inside Geoghan's cell, with the door jammed shut so no one else could enter, and that Druce bragged openly about killing "the child molester" and told investigators he did it to "save the children."

With jury selection to start today, Druce's lawyer, John LaChance, plans to use an insanity defense. He argued during pretrial hearings that Druce was suffering from a "major mental illness."

Druce, a convicted murderer who is serving a life sentence, has been hospitalized at least twice for ingesting foreign objects. In September 2003, just two weeks after Geoghan was killed, Druce swallowed pieces of a pencil. Three months ago, he swallowed a piece of television cable and a piece of his eyeglasses.

Druce, 40, unsuccessfully used an insanity defense during his 1989 trial for the killing of a man who allegedly made a sexual advance toward him after picking him up hitchhiking.

According to psychiatric testimony at that trial, Druce was a troubled child with violent fantasies. Records introduced at the trial showed he took the anti-psychotic drug Thorazine and the hyperactivity treatment Ritalin as a teenager.

Druce said he had been sexually abused as a child.

Geoghan's case sparked the clergy sex abuse scandal that erupted in Boston in 2002 when records were released showing that church higher-ups had shuffled him and dozens of other priests from parish to parish despite allegations they were sexually abusing children.


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