A Look Through the 57-Year-Old Murder Case of Irene Garza
EDINBURG – On Thursday morning, Hidalgo County prosecutors and a team of court-appointed defense attorneys will begin opening arguments in the trial of a former priest accused of murder.
John Feit is now 84-years old. The crime which he’ll now stand trial happened 57-years ago when he was a young priest in McAllen.
Irene Garza was a 26-year-old school teacher who went to church on Easter weekend 1960 and never returned home.
It took investigators nearly six decades to make an arrest in the case.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS took a look back at an overview of the state’s 57-year-old murder case.
Feit’s current journey to the Hidalgo County Courthouse began Easter weekend.
Apr. 16, 1960
At the time, Feit, a 27-year-old priest, and Irene Garza would reportedly cross paths during confession at McAllen’s Sacred Heart Church, the last place Garza was seen alive.
Apr. 21, 1960
A horrible discovery, investigators found Garza’s body face down in a canal that used to run near Business 83 and 2nd Street in McAllen.
An autopsy concluded she had been sexually assaulted and suffocated.
Investigators launched a massive search but were unable to make an arrest.
They did collect a few items as evidence, including an Eastman Kodaslide viewer that would later be traced to the young priest, Father John Feit, but the case went cold.
Feit left the Rio Grande Valley and the priesthood, married, moved to Arizona and became a grandfather, while Garza’s family remained in South Texas and continued to push for answers.
The Texas Rangers cold case unit decided to reopen the investigation at the request of police in McAllen.
Investigators began interviewing people Feit knew from his days in the priesthood.
They submitted their findings to Former District Attorney Rene Guerra, who presented the case to a grand jury the following year but failed to get an indictment.
Current District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez challenged Guerra for the office, won and reopened the case.
Rodriguez secured an indictment against Feit in Feb. 2016.
The former priest was arrested at age 83. He returned to Texas and is now set for trial.
Some of the court records, in this case, are under seal, but others that remain open to the public indicate Feit requires special accommodations due to his health.
The trial is expected to last two weeks.