Nearly 60 years after a beauty queen was murdered, the man accused, who happens to be a former priest, will finally head to trial to face his charges. In April of 1960, Irene Garza, a woman of just 25 years old, was found in a canal. This was five days after she went missing after going to confession at McAllen, Texas’ Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The woman in the canal was dead and this was a story that rocked the headlines during that time.
Garza was a schoolteacher and in 1958, she also was the winner of Miss All South Texas Sweetheart. An autopsy showed that while she was unconscious, she was beaten, raped and suffocated.
The Catholic priest who took her confession was named Father Feit. For years, it was suspected that he was her killer. However, church officials reportedly pressured the cops to leave the priest alone.
Until the early 2000s, the case was considered to be cold. However, a witness then decided to come forward named Rev. Joseph O’Brien. He told the police that Feit admitted to taking Garza’s life and around the time of the woman’s disappearance, he had scratches on his hands. However, since there was not much new evidence, a new indictment was not handed down on Feit.
Then, in 2014, Ricardo Rodriguez, a newly elected district attorney in the area, decided to reopen the case and he appealed to get a new grand jury to listen to the evidence. This eventually resulted in Feit being arrested for the crime in 2016.
Feit was 27 when the disappearance of Garza happened. He was questioned by the police at the time of the crime and he even took a polygraph test that police say that he failed. Unfortunately, it appears that violent behavior was not abnormal for Feit either. Less than a month before Garza was killed, Feit was arrested for a separate act of violence against another young woman.
In this incidence, it was said that he attacked her in a nearby church. For that charge, he plead no contest, but was only charged with a misdemeanor for the assault. He was found to be not guilty for that specific crime, but he was only fined $500 as a punishment. He did not have to serve any prison time for that crime.
Now, he will face the courts for Garza to determine if he is the one who took her life and brutally beat and raped her. He has been living in Arizona, so he had to be extradited to Texas to face the court. He has health issues, so he is on 24-hour medical watch at Hidalgo County jail at this time. He is currently 84 years old.
Feit denies that he is responsible for the murder of Garza, but the trial will press on. While he maintains his innocence, the opening arguments have already begun.
Garza’s family, and everyone else who knew her, simply wants the person who did this to her to be brought to justice since they have been left wondering for decades.