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Police Search for Priest’s Killer

June 10, 2000

GERMANTOWN, Md. (AP) _ Police searching for the killer of a Maryland priest warned against false hopes spurred by reports that a set of fingerprints was discovered at the crime scene.

Monsignor Thomas Wells was found dead early Thursday in his second-floor residence over the rectory office of Mother Seton Catholic Church in Germantown, a Washington suburb.

Police on Friday confirmed that Wells had been stabbed several times during an apparent struggle. But police would neither confirm nor deny reports of fingerprints at the scene that might belong to the killer.

``We’re not going to release the autopsy results at this time,″ said Montgomery County Police Lt. William C. O’ Toole. ``We just don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize this investigation.″

Members of Wells’ parish at Mother Seton Catholic Church have kept a vigil at the sanctuary since they learned of his death. On Thursday, at least 2,000 people visited the church for sessions with one of 10 counselors provided by the Washington archdiocese and the Montgomery County government.

Susan Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said ``It’s been hard,″ for parishioners to deal with the loss of Wells, who had grown up in the area and been a priest for 29 years.

Wells had been pastor at Mother Seton for just 18 months.

About 1,300 people have attended two masses for the monsignor since Thursday, Gibbs said.

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