CRIME HUNTER: Did priest strangle beauty queen in 1960?

By Brad Hunter
Toronto Sun
December 02, 2017

Irene Garza was a big-hearted school teacher when she was murdered in 1960. Now, cops say the man who killed her is on trial.

For nearly 60 years former priest John Feit was the main suspect in Garza’s slaying.

Former priest, John Feit, went on trial last week for the 1960 sex slaying of Irene Garza.

Irene Garzas friends and family hope she finally gets justice after nearly 60 years. Her accused killer went on trial Thursday.

Ohio jail guard Nakisha Newell has been accused of having sex romps with at least one convict.

Hamida Djandoubi, the last man executed in France.

[with video]

In the dusty, southern tip of Texas that sits on the Mexican border death came calling for a dedicated teacher and one-time beauty queen.

Irene Garza was 25 years old that warm April day in 1960.

She attended confession at a Catholic church in McAllen in the late afternoon.

And then she vanished.

Five days later her lifeless body was found in a lonely canal. She’d been sexually assaulted and strangled.

People in the tiny Texas town have been haunted for decades by the gruesome killing.

Garza was by all accounts a remarkable young woman. In a nearly all-white school, she became the head majorette, was crowned the 1958 All-South Texas Sweetheart and was a homecoming queen in college.

She was also devoted to her Grade 2 students.

“She was the sweetest girl. She would do anything for you,” friend Minnie Barrera told KABB. “She would drop anything at the drop of a hat and help you out if you needed it.”

Now, 57 years later, the man accused of killing Garza will stand trial for her murder.

There really was only one suspect from day one.

It was the priest who heard Garza’s confession at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

He was Rev. John Feit, at the time a visiting priest at the church.

During the search for Garza, cops found her shoe and purse. They called it “a pattern.”

“It appeared someone was either trying to lead us to something or away from something,” one investigator told the now-defunct San Antonio News in 1960.

Garza’s body was stuffed into a burlap bag. It had been sealed with rope.

And detectives had a few questions for the good reverend.

Two weeks before Garza vanished, he had been charged with the assault and attempted rape of another woman at another local church. That spectacle ended in a mistrial, with the priest pleading no contest to aggravated assault.

Fein coughed up the $500 fine and that was that — even though evidence pointed to him as Garza’s killer.

Church officials encouraged the police to bury the probe and they eventually ruled him out.

Left in the wake of that backroom deal were the victim’s family and friends.

Fein left the priesthood, married and had kids. He has always insisted he is not guilty.

But in 2002, investigators from the Texas Rangers reopened the case. Two former priests, protected by time and distance came forward claiming Fein fessed up to the murder.

That went nowhere. A new district attorney vowed to try again. New evidence meant new life.

In February 2016, the now 85-year-old Fein, living in a senior’s complex in Arizona, was arrested and charged in the cold case that had gone into deep freeze.

Opening statements were Thursday.

Garza’s pal Minnie Barrera remembered the good times. Simpler times. Before Irene’s murder, before Vietnam, when the world was young and anything seemed possible.

That world was shattered on April 19, 1960.

“I was on the way driving here…this morning. I was telling my daughter — I said, ‘I don’t even know if I want to see this man,’” Barrera said, adding what was done to her friend was “just so horrible.”


Ohio corrections officer Nakisha Newell is giving a whole new meaning to “hard time.”

The 28-year-old jail guard has been accused of having sex romps with at least one inmate at the Butler County Corrections Center in Hamilton, and possibly more, cops say.

Investigators allege Newell smuggled in a mobile phone and e-cigarettes to her pinstripe-clad paramour in exchange for hormone-charged hijinks.

Newell was charged with sexual battery and additional charges are likely.

She’s in custody at another jail.


Given the U.S. is singularly carrying the ball in executing criminals, it’s worth noting that Canada, the UK, France, Australia, Germany and others all once had the death penalty.

Hamida Djandoubi, a sometime agricultural worker and full-time pimp, was the last man executed in France.

In 1974, Djandoubi met pretty nurse Elisabeth Bousquet, 21, while recovering from having two-thirds of his leg amputated. She complained he wanted to force her into prostitution.

On July 3, 1974 he kidnapped her and tortured her with cigarettes as he viciously pummelled her in front of two terrified teen hookers.

Djandoubi then took Bousquet by car to the outskirts of Marseilles and strangled her.

No pardon was coming and in the early morning of Sept. 10, 1977, he was executed on the guillotine.


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