The Latest: Ex-priest worked at Catholic charity in Phoenix

AP News
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Posted: Feb 10, 2016 5:31 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — The Latest on the arrest in Arizona of a former priest in the 1960 cold-case killing of a Texas schoolteacher (all times local):

3:15 p.m.

The former priest arrested in the 1960 death of a Texas schoolteacher worked as a volunteer and administrator for many years at a Phoenix charity.

St. Vincent de Paul executive director Steve Zabilski said John Feit (fyt) was an employee at the Catholic charity up until about a decade ago. He later worked as a volunteer.

Zabliski said Feit worked with and trained volunteers in the charity's many food pantries around the Phoenix area.

He said the charity knew about Feit being under suspicion in the death of Irene Garza, but continued to work there because he was never charged and denied involvement. Zabliski called Feit a kind, caring and compassionate employee, and said he was stunned about the news.

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12:50 p.m.

A former priest accused in the 1960 killing of a Texas schoolteacher says he'll fight extradition to the state following his arrest in Arizona.

John Bernard Feit (fyt) appeared in court on Wednesday in Phoenix, a day after he was arrested at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, on a murder warrant from Texas' Hidalgo County in the death of Irene Garza.

The 83-year-old was ordered held in lieu of $750,000 cash bond. Feit said the murder charge didn't make sense and that he's puzzled because the killing occurred in 1960.

Authorities say Garza intended to go to confession when she visited a church in McAllen, Texas, where Feit was a priest. She never returned, and her body was found days later in an irrigation canal.

An autopsy determined that Garza died from a head injury. Feit was a suspect in the killing but was never charged.

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12 a.m.

A former priest has been arrested in Arizona in the 1960 slaying of a 25-year-old Texas schoolteacher.

Eighty-three-year-old John Feit (fyt) was arrested Tuesday by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department and awaits extradition to Texas. Feit faces a murder charge in the death of Irene Garza.

Authorities say Garza visited Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, where Feit was a priest, on April 16, 1960. Garza had planned to go to confession that evening but never returned, and her body was found days later in an irrigation canal.

According to an autopsy, Garza died from a head injury. Feit was a suspect in the killing but was never charged in the case.

Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez said that he presented the case against Feit to a grand jury last week.