Irene Garza's Cousin Reacts to Indictment: "Finally, Her Voice Was Heard from the Grave"
By Analise Ortiz
February 11, 2016
When Noemi Siegler heard a Hidalgo County grand jury had finally indicted former priest John Feit -- long suspected of killing her cousin, McAllen beauty queen Irene Garza -- she started weeping uncontrollably.
"I was flooded with emotion, it completely took me off my feet," said Siegler, who spent decades pushing county prosecutors for justice. "I cried at least six hours. I cried until I lost my voice."
Seigler spoke exclusively with 48 Hours about her cousin's murder.
On April 16, 1960, the 25-year-old teacher went to confession at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen. Five days later, investigators pulled her body from an irrigation canal.
Police suspected that John Feit, the priest who heard Garza's confession, killed her. Prosecutors, though, didn't indict him.
"I started losing faith, a little bit, in the legal system," Siegler said.
Watch the 48 Hours: The Last Confession
For years, former District Attorney Rene Guerra said he didn't think prosecutors had enough evidence to convict Feit.
When state District Judge Ricardo Rodriguez resigned to run against Guerra, he promised to take a fresh look at the five-decade-old case. Rodriguez defeated Guerra in the Democratic Party primary and took office in January 2015.
Prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury, which indicted Feit last week. Investigators arrested 83-year-old Feit on Tuesday. He's now fighting extradition from Arizona.
"Finally, her voice was heard from the grave," Siegler said. "Finally."
Statement from Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez
The arrest of John Feit Tuesday night is the first step in providing justice for the murder of Ms. Irene Garza. After nearly 56 years, Ms. Garza's family and our community will finally see that justice is served.
The controlling authority responsible for indicting defendant John Feit was a Grand Jury of Hidalgo County, Texas. Mr. Feit has been arrested and is in the custody of Maricopa County in Arizona.
At this point, Mr. Feit stands innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Mr. Feit is contesting extradition to the State of Texas. We are working to make sure he comes back to Hidalgo County to stand trial so justice can be served and Ms. Garza's family can have closure.
We will elaborate further with additional details once we have completed the extradition process."
Statement from the Diocese of Brownsville
We hope and pray for healing for the family and everyone involved. It is our hope that justice is served in this case that dates back to 1960.