A 31-year-old Mississippi man was arrested early Tuesday morning in Florida after shooting a 70-year-old Catholic priest to death in Waveland, Mississippi and using his car to take his ex-wife and children to Disney World.
The murder took place at retreat house for priests in Waveland, part of his weekend routine. His killer apparently worked at the house as a handyman and performed odd jobs around the house. According to police, the man’s motive for the murder was robbery.
Following the murder, the man stole his vehicle, picked up his ex-wife and children, and stayed at a motel in Mobile, Alabama on Sunday night. On Monday morning, they apparently purchased passes for Disney at a Days Inn in Polk County, using the priest’s cash. The killer was arrested that morning. Police reportedly tracked the priest’s stolen car down by using its anti-theft device.
On Monday morning, the priest’s dead body was found by a retreat house caretaker, who found the victim on a couch in the front room, bleeding from his mouth.
The man’s wife apparently had no knowledge that the car was stolen, and will mostly likely not face any charges. Once the man is brought back to Mississippi, he will face charges of murder.
According to sources, the man is a registered sex offender and has an extensive criminal record. The priest had been serving as the pastor of Holy Ghost Church in Hammond, Louisiana and Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Tickfaw.
Source: Associated Press, “Police: Handyman killed priest, headed for Disney,” Holbrook Mohr, 12 July 2011.