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Old 11-23-2008, 10:52 PM   #1
mozartpc27
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Default Some info on Man who committed suicide in Church

So, I was poking around on the doenetwork, and saw a man whose face made me think of the case about the man who, in 1982, entered a Church in Idaho, said a prayer, and swallowed cyanide. When he was found, he had an amount of cash on him with instruction for the Church to use it to defray the expenses of his burial. Well, the guy who I thought it might be wasn't it, but in poking around trying to find more information, I found this web site, which leads to a discussion of a case involving the murder of a Catholic priest. According to an article on the murder, a Father Patrick Ryan was murdered inside a hotel room in Odessa, Texas, a crime for which one James Harry Reyos was convicted in 1983 (Father Ryan was attempting to have a liaison with someone, and was apparently homosexual). Reyos had confessed to the murder while drunk; though he quickly recanted upon sobering up, there was no physical evidence otherwise tying him to the crime scene or the murder itself, and he had a nearly air-tight alibi for the night of the murder, he was convicted on the strength of his drunken confession. Evidently, a former county prosecutor from where Reyos was tried and a Catholic Bishop who presided over the funeral of the murdered priest both believe that Reyos is innocent. He is now out of prison, but wants to clear his name.

Anyway, this same page links to another article about our "suntanned man" going by the name of "Wm. L. Toomey" and its possible connection to this case. I don't believe the UM segment mentions that this man apparently asked to have his confession heard before taking the cyanide, but, according to this article, he did:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jordan Smith
On Dec. 4, 1982, a deeply suntanned man, about 40 years old, walked into the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Boise, Idaho, and readied himself for confession. He never got a chance to recount his sins to the priest. As he waited – perhaps not realizing it would be several minutes before the confessional was available, or perhaps despairing of the condition of his soul – the man swallowed a cyanide capsule. A few minutes later, he was dead.
Fair warning: if you follow the linked article, it actually contains a picture, about halfway down, of the man who died in the church, taken, apparently, at the scene. He is, of course, dead.

More importantly, here is how the case is believed to be connected:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jordan Smith
There was a further coincidence. In 1993, Boise Police Detective Frank Richardson happened to see a story on Reyos' case on the television program A Current Affair. The story nudged Richardson's intuition. Although he didn't have any hard evidence to support his instinct, Richardson suspected that there was a connection between Ryan's death and an 11-year-old cold case that still nagged at him. On Dec. 4, 1982, just three weeks after Reyos was arrested, a suntanned man walked into the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Boise, Idaho, for confession. In his pocket was a folded note and $1,900. But as he waited his turn in the confessional, the man swallowed a cyanide capsule and died. The note in his pocket said only that the money he carried should be used for his burial, and the rest donated to the church. The note was signed with a pseudonym, "Wm. L. Toomey," which Richardson said he later discovered was the name of a company that manufactured priest and nun garb. There was no doubt in Richardson's mind that his Boise John Doe was intimately connected to the Catholic Church; for that reason, the story of the Ryan murder aroused his suspicions.

Richardson contacted Reyos' lawyers, and word of the Boise John Doe soon reached reporters Swindle and Wyatt. Additional clues from the Boise case solidified Swindle, Wyatt, and Richardson's now shared belief that the man was connected to the murders of Ryan and Carrier. Specifically, Richardson was intrigued by the man's suntan – hard to come by in December in Idaho – and by the unique bolo tie and belt buckle that he wore. "We traced the belt back to one gift shop in Phoenix," Richardson recalled recently. Yet Richardson and the BPD were unable to find a positive ID for their John Doe. They ran his fingerprints through several databases without results. Swindle and Wyatt also tried and failed. "We got a cop to run them in certain places, and this was kind of off-the-books," Wyatt recalls. "He didn't find much."

The absence of a match meant that the researchers could rule out several possibilities: John Doe was never charged with a crime, he never served in the military, and he was not a member of a licensed profession. That left few possibilities, and the one that nagged at the men was that John Doe was a priest. "Catholic priests move in circles and travel gratis and can literally pop up in places," says Wyatt. "For example, Father Ryan never had a driver's license, [and] we never found any [other] documentary evidence."

Indeed, exactly how Father Ryan popped up in West Texas isn't entirely clear. According to reports in the Odessa American at the time of his death, Ryan was born in Ireland and entered the seminary there in 1949. Reportedly he traveled with the Pallottine Society of priests for several years, before heading to Africa to do missionary work. He then reportedly took a furlough back to Ireland before he was reassigned to Denver City – although no official record appears to exist concerning how, under what circumstances, or even when Ryan came to Texas. Efforts by the Chronicle to trace Ryan's movements from Ireland were unsuccessful, despite several communications with church officials in Dublin. Bishop Leroy Matthiesen, now Bishop Emeritus in Amarillo, oversaw Ryan's work in Denver City, but is also vague about Ryan's past. "He came from Ireland," he said. "They sent missionaries to South America and then they came up here." When asked how it was that Ryan ended up in West Texas, Matthiesen said he couldn't remember. (Prior to 1979, neither the U.S. Catholic directory nor any other publicly available diocesan record makes mention of Father Ryan, who is then listed until his death in 1981.)

Matthiesen's memory loss doesn't surprise Richardson or Wyatt, who say that the Church offered very little help to them as they tried, along with Swindle (who died of cancer last year), to get information that could point to the identity of the Boise John Doe or to help determine who killed Ryan and Carrier. "[Swindle] came from Dallas, and we went to the ... [Boise] church and questioned the priest," Richardson recalled. "All we got out of him when we confronted him with our suspicions was a big, old grin." Richardson has since retired from the force, and the John Doe case remains unsolved. "It's ironic that the cyanide kicked in before he could get into the confessional. He was about to make a huge gesture, to croak in the confessional," said Wyatt, who said the dead man had apparently miscalculated the time he would spend waiting for confession. "He died without absolution."

Nonetheless, Richardson, Wyatt, and Swindle all agreed on the basics of what they believed happened to Fathers Ryan and Carrier. "What I can prove and what my gut feeling is are different," Richardson said. They believe Ryan knew his attacker – maybe the Boise John Doe – with whom he had planned a rendezvous for sex. Inside the Sand and Sage motel room, something went very wrong, erupting into a violent, sexually charged killing. That scenario is also plausible to retired prosecutor Cadra and trial attorney Cliff, neither of whom believes that Ryan's death was a random event. Perhaps, Cliff posits, Ryan met his attacker through the church, possibly at Jemez Springs in New Mexico, the infamous, and now bankrupt, Catholic facility for alcoholic and pedophile priests.

That's also what Cliff's trial partner John Smith, the current Ector Co. DA, thought. "He had a theory that Father Ryan [was at a] ... retreat hidden [in New Mexico] where they would send wayward priests, and then send them to small counties," Cliff said. Indeed, Swindle and Wyatt considered the same theory, and that perhaps John Doe also spent time at Jemez Springs. In November 1993, Swindle wrote a letter to one of the Paraclete fathers, who minister to their wayward brethren and who worked in Eastern New Mexico, asking him to look at a sketch of the Boise John Doe, to see if he could identify the man, but he never got a response.
Pretty interesting. It also makes me wonder about the murders of the two Catholic priests murdered in New Mexico and Montana. I never thought those two murders were connected, despite UM's attempts to link them. In one, the murder of Father Renaldo Rivera, the priest's body was found, and although the UM segment doesn't expressly state it, I've always gotten the strong sense that he was left in a perhaps explicit pose of kind. The detective in that case makes it a point to tell UM viewers that Father Reynaldo was "meant to be found": I've always thought that the amount of emphasis he put on that suggested that Father Reynaldo was left in a way meant to embarrass or degrade him or something out of the ordinary. In the other, the priest in question, Father John Kerrigan, was never found. The murders were separated by two years, and the only things connecting them, apparently, were the fact that both victims were priests and a coat hanger was apparently involved in both murders (the latter detail is, perhaps, nothing to sneeze at). However, as wiseguy pointed out in this thread, the differences do much to outweigh the similarities.

However, I think it is interestingto note that Father Patrick Ryan was murdered on December 21, 1981 (and, to give credit where credit is due, kadrmas15 raised the possibility that Father Ryan's murder was connected to the murders of Fathers Reynaldo and Kerrigan in this thread); Father Reynaldo Rivera was murdered on August 7, 1982; and the man found in the Boise, ID Church died on December 4, 1982, just weeks after James Harry Reyos was arrested for the murder of Father Ryan. If the man in the Church was from the southwest, and was connected to the murder of Father Ryan, perhaps he could also have been connected to the murder of Father Rivera (Father Kerrigan disappeared in August of 1984, a year and a half after the man in the Church killed himself). The article about the murder of Father Patrick Ryan and its connection to the suicide in Idaho also mentions the murder of a third priest during the time period - Father Benjamin Carrier, who was found dead and naked in a hotel room in November of 1982, under circumstances eerily similar to Father Patrick Ryan.

It's hard to imagine that Father Ryan and Father Carrier aren't connected, and it's not much of a leap to think the Father Rivera also fits into this timeline: priests from the Southwest, all murdered within a year of one another.

Thought this was interesting stuff.
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Old 11-23-2008, 11:17 PM   #2
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Well, my face is red. I thought I'd done a pretty thorough search and that none of this had been posted before, but it turns out I was wrong (beginning with forum member Todd Mueller's post, post number 37 in the thread). This is what I get for trying to be original! My hats off to the poster Todd Mueller for beating me to this!

When all of this material was originally posted, crystaldawn said she found it unlikely the guy found in the church was in fact a murderer. The chances, I agree, are remote; this is all based on nothing more than a detective's "hunch."

Still, an interesting theory, and if the man was indeed a Catholic priest himself, it might go a long way towards explaining why he has never been claimed.

Did they mention in the UM segment that the name he used to sign was a company that makes garments for priests and nuns? I think they did, but I can't seem to locate my copy of the segment at the moment.
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Old 11-23-2008, 11:42 PM   #3
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Holy crap! If there were some connection to any of these murders, that would be huge. That the John Doe could be a priest (or former priest) would be a very real possibility. It would seem that John Doe was giving a BIG CLUE when he signed his name.

It could be that part of the reason why there are still so many unanswered questions in these murders is that people who could give clues - other priests included - might have to reveal their involvement in homosexual relationships in the process of coming forward. I'm sure this isn't a new theory. Just thinking out loud.

There are some very secretive corners of the Catholic Church, and I think a lot of people would rather these deaths just went unsolved than to cast a bright light on their shadows.

ETA: That's okay, mozart. Obviously, I don't remember the first thread.
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Old 02-28-2009, 01:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nohwheregirl
There are some very secretive corners of the Catholic Church, and I think a lot of people would rather these deaths just went unsolved than to cast a bright light on their shadows.
I was going through some old threads, and am bumping this just to say that I think that's a very irresponsible comment. I'm not sure what "secretive" corners of the Catholic Church you're referring to, but I highly doubt the Church would rather see a death go unsolved in order to "save face" for some "secretive" reason (that you have failed to specify). That's to assume that thousands of individuals would prefer to see a miscarriage of justice.

Did you not think there are some posters here who are Catholics themselves?
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Old 02-28-2009, 02:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nohwheregirl
Holy crap! If there were some connection to any of these murders, that would be huge. That the John Doe could be a priest (or former priest) would be a very real possibility. It would seem that John Doe was giving a BIG CLUE when he signed his name.

It could be that part of the reason why there are still so many unanswered questions in these murders is that people who could give clues - other priests included - might have to reveal their involvement in homosexual relationships in the process of coming forward. I'm sure this isn't a new theory. Just thinking out loud.

There are some very secretive corners of the Catholic Church, and I think a lot of people would rather these deaths just went unsolved than to cast a bright light on their shadows.

ETA: That's okay, mozart. Obviously, I don't remember the first thread.
Your comments show such ignorance. Maybe instead of "thinking out loud" you should actually think before posting.

Regarding the episode, my feelings are that this was a simple depressed gentleman who had genuine remorse for something awful that had happened in his life. The cowboy wardrobe is significant. He probably lived in a remote area tending cattle or farm animals so there werent alot of people to report him missing. I find this whole story very sad.
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Old 02-28-2009, 04:02 PM   #6
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Wow, the stilll have no idea who the guy is who committed suicide way back in 82 in the Idaho church. By now, many of his family could be dead too making it even harder.
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Old 02-28-2009, 04:05 PM   #7
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I am a Catholic and to a degree it is offensive what was said. I do get what nowheregirl was getting at though so I do not think it is an overall big deal. Yes the Catholic church has its issues with child molestation by priests and the higher ups turning the other cheek to the issue. However if a priest was murdered I think the higher ups would want to know who did it regardless if the priest was homosexual or not. Certainly the priests parishioners would want to know. Most priests are good, honorable men that serve God and their communities in the right way and without hesitation. It is really sad a few bad apples make it seem like all the priests are either child molesters and/or closet cases. Of course the media's almost constant assault on the Catholic church does not help matters.
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Old 03-01-2009, 01:47 PM   #8
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Just an FYI, I am a confirmed practicing Catholic. I was raised Catholic, have clergy in my family. Do you really think an institution that is capable of covering up child molestation scandals for DECADES and protecting pedophile priests is not capable of covering up other crimes? I'm not saying that they actively covered up the murders. I have no evidence of that. All I'm saying is that there are things, like homosexual activity (and yes, I personally know a few priests and seminarians who are "out" - to varying degrees - homosexuals), that the church as an institution would not like out in the open.

Also, just to be clear, I am VERY pro-gay rights, and just because the Catholic Church thinks that homosexuality is wrong does not mean that I do.

I think there is a certain level of denial among people of ALL faiths that bad things happen in their churches, and further bad things occur in order to maintain the status quo. Anyone who denies this stuff happens, particularly in the Catholic Church, is not very well educated about the history of their church. And for all of you who were offended by my statement - Guess what...It's not about you! Or your parish priests, who I'm sure are very lovely people.
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Old 03-02-2009, 04:34 AM   #9
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Have you guys seen this? http://www.handofgodfilm.com/
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Old 03-02-2009, 01:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nohwheregirl
Just an FYI, I am a confirmed practicing Catholic. I was raised Catholic, have clergy in my family. Do you really think an institution that is capable of covering up child molestation scandals for DECADES and protecting pedophile priests is not capable of covering up other crimes? I'm not saying that they actively covered up the murders. I have no evidence of that. All I'm saying is that there are things, like homosexual activity (and yes, I personally know a few priests and seminarians who are "out" - to varying degrees - homosexuals), that the church as an institution would not like out in the open.

Also, just to be clear, I am VERY pro-gay rights, and just because the Catholic Church thinks that homosexuality is wrong does not mean that I do.

I think there is a certain level of denial among people of ALL faiths that bad things happen in their churches, and further bad things occur in order to maintain the status quo. Anyone who denies this stuff happens, particularly in the Catholic Church, is not very well educated about the history of their church. And for all of you who were offended by my statement - Guess what...It's not about you! Or your parish priests, who I'm sure are very lovely people.
No one has denied that there's been corruption within the Church, or within, as you said, all faiths. I just personally find the speculation a little hard to believe and your tone a tad offensive, that's all. Call me naive, call me a diehard, call me a fool, but stories of murdered priests do not lead me to suspect that the Church may be behind it.

I'm aware that "it's not about me", or my priest, or whomever. That was rather unnecessary.
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Old 03-02-2009, 01:49 PM   #11
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Also, I'd like to clarify that gay priests and pedophile priests are too ENTIRELY different populations.
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Old 03-02-2009, 02:05 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kadrmas15
Most priests are good, honorable men that serve God and their communities in the right way and without hesitation. It is really sad a few bad apples make it seem like all the priests are either child molesters and/or closet cases. Of course the media's almost constant assault on the Catholic church does not help matters.
Definitely. I sometimes get the idea that investigating authorities now tend to jump to conclusions when priests become murder victims, and start immediately speculating either homosexuality or pedophilia was a factor. It's rather like what they sometimes do with young black men: if he's under 30 and African American, it must be drug-related.
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Old 03-02-2009, 02:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MegtheEgg86
Call me naive, call me a diehard, call me a fool, but stories of murdered priests do not lead me to suspect that the Church may be behind it.
Please show me where I ever even implied that the Church is actually behind any of these murders. Go back and read my post rather than putting words in my mouth.
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Old 03-02-2009, 02:19 PM   #14
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There are some very secretive corners of the Catholic Church, and I think a lot of people would rather these deaths just went unsolved than to cast a bright light on their shadows.

Maybe I took that out of context. Perhaps you meant that the laity would rather the murders go unsolved so they could remain in "denial" (that's to assume something atrocious would rear its head, however) about the Church. If that's the case, then I made a mistake and I apologize. But honestly, I still think that statement indicates a tendency to assume that a murdered priest must mean homosexuality or pedophilia factors.
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Old 03-02-2009, 05:07 PM   #15
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I am also Catholic, which is why this case haunted me so much. I have to defend nowheregirl here. What she suggested is no doubt true, to some degree, and investigators would be lying to themselves if they didn't consider it: the Church might be more willing to let the murder of a priest go unsolved than get it solved, IF solving it meant exposing the dark sexual secrets of even the one priest in question. The Church has been very, very protective of its image - that's why the whole pedophilia thing happened the way it did. Nowheregirl di not say, nor do I think she meant to suggest, that Church figures were involved in the plotting and/or execution of a murder plot against any priest. Rather, she was suggesting that IF Church officials had reason to believe that correctly identifying the murderer of a priest would necessarily entail exposing a pattern of sexual activity among one or more of its priests that they would find embarassing (and, sadly, to the Catholic Church, especially in the 1980s and before, homosexuality, among consenting adult males, is embarassing, rather than a simple fact of life, so it need not be pedophilia we are talking about here) and perhaps undermining to their moral message, they might have been less than zealous in their eagerness to see the killer brought to justice, especially in the days before the whole pedophilia scandal was exposed.

And, sadly, given what we've learned about the Church's methods for handling troubled priests prior to the pedophilia scandal, I think nowheregirl has posited and all-too-plausible scenario.
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