Irene Garza was a young woman who disappeared in April 1960. She was found lying face-down in a canal. Police suspected that she was murdered by a priest, but the case was never solved. This is the true story of a beauty queen and a killer priest. You might call it “Beauty and the Priest”.
Irene Garza was a beautiful 25-year old school teacher who lived in McAllen, Texas. She won a beauty contest and had been crowned Miss All South Texas Sweetheart.
On the day before Easter, Irene went to Sacred Heart Catholic Church for confession. It was the last time she would be seen alive.
The next morning, her car was found near the church, but she was nowhere to be seen. Two days later, someone spotted Irene’s purse and one of her high-heeled shoes and a piece of her white lace veil.
The alarming discoveries set off a massive search and, five days later, her body was found floating face-down in a canal just outside of town. She had been assalted, beaten and suffocated to death.
The police found something else in the canal that seemed strange. It was a slide viewer that was attached to a long cord. It looed like it had been used to tie Irene’s hands.
The object belonged to Father John Feit, the priest from Sacred Heart who received Garza’s confession before she disappeared.
On the day Irene Garza disappeared, she had gone to church to get confession from a priest named Father John Feit. When the police discovered that the slide viewer they had found belonged to Father Feit, they immediately began investigating the priest and what they found was incredibly disturbing.
Less than a month before, Father Feit had been charged with attacking another young woman inside the church. A young woman named Maria America Guerra was kneeling at the communion rail when a man dressed as a priest pounced on her from behind. He grabbed her and tried to gag her but she was able to fight him off and escape.
The woman identified Father Feit, but at the trial, the jury couldn’t believe a priest would do such a thing and he got off with a $500 fine.
On the night Irene Garza disappeared, Feit’s glasses were broken. Scratches also appeared on his hands, which he claimed to have received after accidentally locking himself out of his residence.
Despite the suspicious evidence against Father Feit, no one wanted to believe that a priest could be responsible for such a horrific crime, and the church eventually transferred to a monastery in Missouri.
Decades later, two other priests came forward and claimed that Father Feit had confessed to them that he had killed a young woman
around Easter. According to them, Feit said he took the young woman to the rectory, where he assaulted her, tied her hands and gagged her. Then he hid her in a bathtub, put a bag over her head and left her there overnight. When he was leaving to go to church next morning, he heard her say, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” When he came back, she was dead.
However, the district attorney felt there wasn’t enough evidence to file charges against Feit, and one of the witnesses soon passed away.
Father Feit is currently in his eighties and has always maintained his innocence, but he continues to be the prime suspect in Irene Garza’s murder, which remains unsolved to this day.