EDINBURG, Texas (AP) — A former priest has been found guilty of murder in the 1960 slaying of a South Texas teacher and one-time beauty queen who was a member of the parish he served.
A Hidalgo County jury deliberated 6½ hours after hearing five days of deliberations before returning its verdict in the murder trial of 85-year-old John Bernard Feit. He was accused of strangling 25-year-old Irene Garza to death in McAllen, Texas.
Authorities said Garza visited Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, where Feit was a priest, on April 16, 1960. Garza, who was Miss All South Texas Sweetheart 1958, had planned to go to confession that evening. She never returned home.
Prosecutors presented evidence that elected and church officials suspected Feit of killing the woman but wanted to avoid prosecuting him because it might harm the church’s reputation and elected officials politically.