EDINBURG, Texas – After 57 years, the murder of a south Texas beauty queen may finally be solved.
The accused? The priest who heard her last confession.
Jury selection will begin for the trial of former Priest John Feit, 85.
Fifty Seven years ago Feit was a visiting member of the clergy at Sacred Heart Church in Mc Allen, where 25-year-old Irene Garza was last seen alive.
The young school teacher was well-known in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and lived down the street from Sacred Heart with her parents where she went to confession every Saturday.
On Easter weekend in 1960, Garza went to church and never came home. More than 500 members of the community helped police search for Garza. First, they found her shoe, then her purse and days later they found her body floating in a canal. Garza’s autopsy revealed had been raped and beaten.
Police also found a clue; a small slide projector near her body that belonged to Feit.
Prosecutors say Feit was always a suspect but they never had enough evidence to arrest him until last year. That’s when a former monk came forward with a secret he’d been harboring for more than 40 years.
Dale Tacheny was Feit’s spiritual counselor for six months at a Missouri monastery after the murder. That’s where Tacheny says Feit confessed to the crime.
“After fondling her breast, he took her to the basement. He put something over her head. She was saying, I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe,” says Tachney.
He heard about dumping Irene’s body in the canal and Tachney asked why Feit was at the monastery and not in prison. “He said simply, the church protected me.”
Tacheny says his conscience could no longer suppress this 40-year-old conversation, which led to Feit’s arrest.
“He’s pleading not guilty,” Ricardo Rodriguez, the Hidalgo County district attorney said. “The only motive in this case it to finally bring justice and closure to this cold case.”
A cold case known simply as beauty and the priest.