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Nebraska priest slain in rectory during church break-in

Crime scene do not enter

Fer Gregory | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 12/11/23

The Archdiocese of Omaha has asked the faithful to pray for the soul of Fr. Stephen Gutgsell and his family during this tragic time.
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A Nebraska Catholic priest was stabbed to death on Sunday, December 10, when his parish’s rectory was broken into in the early morning hours. While police have not released all the details into the ongoing investigation, they have reported that a suspect is in custody. 

According to Fox News, police responded to a call about a break-in at St. John the Baptist Church around 5 am, where they found Fr. Stephen Gutgsell, 65, was bleeding out, and suspected assailant Kierre Williams, 43, was still on the premises. Fr. Gutgsell was rushed to the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where he ultimately succumbed to his wounds, and Williams has been arrested on charges of homicide. 

While more details have yet to emerge about the motive behind the break-in or attack, ABC notes that Williams lived in Iowa, about 85 minutes away from the church. Reports also mention that the victim, Fr. Gutgsell, had previously been convicted of the embezzlement of $127,000 from his previous church, for which he was fined and sentenced to probation. However, there is no indication that the embezzlement had any connection to the December 10 incident. 

In an interview with Omaha World Herald, parishioner Mike Fitzgerald remembered Fr. Gutgsell’s service to the St. John the Baptist community for over a decade: 

“Father Gutgsell has been here 11 years, and I thought he was a very holy man,” Fitzgerald said. “He did a lot of things for the community. He always made sure that the (church) bulletin had everything in it that we needed to know about things going on at the church.”

The Archdiocese of Omaha asked Catholics to join them in prayer for Fr. Gutgsell and his family in this tragic time: 

“The Archdiocese of Omaha is praying for Father Stephen Gutgsell, who was assaulted during an invasion at the rectory of St. John the Baptist parish in Fort Calhoun early Sunday morning … 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.”

CatholicismCRIMEPriestUnited States
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