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Priest Brutally Murdered in Church Rectory - Suspect Arrested

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An Iowa man is in jail after police say he burglarized a church rectory in Nebraska early on Sunday morning and stabbed a priest to death.

According to KETV, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office reported a 911 call was placed to the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in the community of Fort Calhoun just miles north of Omaha.

Deputies said when they arrived at the church, they found 43-year-old Kierre L. Williams inside the church rectory.

Along with Williams, police said, was Father Stephen Gutgsell, who had been stabbed.

The priest was rushed to nearby Nebraska Medicine in Omaha. However, he later died of his injuries.

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Williams was arrested and taken to the Washington County Jail. The man is charged with homicide and the use of a weapon to commit a felony.

Police did not release a suspected motive in the killing of Gutgsell — or for the alleged break-in by Williams.

Williams resided in Sioux City, Iowa, which is located just across the Nebraska state line.

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St. John the Baptist Catholic Church is part of the Archdiocese of Omaha. Services for Sunday morning at the church were canceled.

Later in the evening, pews were filled with people who came to honor the late priest.

A woman named Rosemary Therkildsen said of Gutgsell, “It’s very difficult to believe that he’s not going to be in there when we walk in there today.”

“Just doesn’t feel real,” another woman said of the shocking murder.

A representaive for Gutgsell issued a statement to KETV about his sudden death.

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“The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is investigating, and there are no further details at this time,” the statement said.

The statement concluded, “Please join Archbishop George Lucas in prayer for the repose of Father Gutgsell, for his family and for the St. John the Baptist parish community in this tragic time.”

The Washington County Sheriff’s office is still investigating the death of the priest.

The department told KETV that deputies do not believe there is an ongoing threat to the public.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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