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Ex-priest finally faces justice for brutally raping and murdering beauty queen nearly 60 years ago

Jurors convicted a former priest this week for killing a beauty queen nearly 60 years ago.

According to People, 85-year-old John Feit was found guilty on Thursday and given a life sentence the following day.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Irene Garza was 25 in 1960 when she was murdered in McAllen, Texas. Feit was 27.

He was a priest at the time, visiting the Texas community. A jury determined that Feit physically and sexually assaulted the young woman before suffocating her and putting her body in a bag.

Prosecutors said he left her dead body in the rectory’s basement bathtub while he went back to Sacred Heart Catholic Church to perform his duties.

A former monk who served with Feit three years after the murder said the priest gave him details of the crime.

“He put the young lady in a bathtub,” 88-year-old Dale Tacheny testified. “As he was leaving, the young lady said, ‘I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe.’ Then he left.”

Feit has long denied his involvement in Garza’s death, claiming his interaction with her was limited to hearing her confession in the rectory, according to the Associated Press.

Prosecutors argued, however, that officials in positions of power within the Catholic church and local government — many of whom were Catholic — were immediately suspicious of the young priest.

Since the crime occurred as then-Sen. John F. Kennedy campaigned to become the nation’s first Catholic president, evidence suggests there was a suppressed effort to bring him to justice at the time.

Feit had pleaded no contest and received a $500 fine for physically attacking another woman shortly before Garza’s death.

Available reports did not indicate whether Feit’s attorneys intend to appeal the verdict.

[Featured image: John Feit/Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office]