Man Accused of Killing Priest Confesses in Press Conference

By Jeremy Schwartz
Austin American-Statesman
April 7, 2009

The suspect in the killing of Cristo Rey pastor Jesse Euresti confessed to the slaying Tuesday when he was paraded in front of Nuevo Laredo media by police, according to accounts in two Mexican newspapers who sent reporters to interview the man.

Manuel Martin Torres Saldana was arrested Monday in the southern state of Chiapas, Mexican authorities said during a noontime press conference, according to Nuevo Laredo press accounts. He was then brought back to the border city where Euresti's body was found next to a highway earlier this week.

The 69-year-old priest had bought a home in Nuevo Laredo and planned to retire there, Austin diocese officials and family members have said.

Torres Saldana told reporters that he killed Euresti in a fit of rage and said he and the priest were intimately involved. Euresti's family members have said that Torres Saldana was the caretaker for Euresti's Nuevo Laredo home.

According to the Hoy Laredo newspaper, Saldana said he and Euresti had been lovers for nearly a year and a half. "The truth is that we were an intimate couple, we had sexual relations," Saldana said during the press conference, according to Hoy Laredo. Hoy Laredo and the Mexico City newspaper Excelsior both reported that Torres Saldana said he was angry because Euresti had found a different romantic partner.

Hoy Laredo also quoted Torres Saldana as admitting to being a drug addict and saying that the slaying occurred during a fight between the two men.

The Austin Diocese said in a written statement that Uresti's family does not want to be contacted by the media. Before today's 7 p.m. rosary for Euresti at Cristo Rey, Bishop Gregory Aymond said he was shocked to hear Torres Saldana's confession and said it was the first he has heard of a sexual relationship between the two men.

"We will investigate," he said. "If there is any truth to this, we will speak the truth. If not, we want to do what we can to restore Father Jesse's good name for his sake as well as for the sake of his family and the parishioners."

"We have to put into perspective that this is a man who is confessing a murder," Aymond said, "and the credibility of his accusation at least has to be questioned."


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