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Two Colorado Priests Killed in Rectory

August 8, 1996

PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) _ Two Roman Catholic priests were found stabbed to death in their rectory, and police said today they had no suspects.

There were no signs of forced entry at the St. Leander Church rectory, where the bodies of the Rev. Tom Scheets, 65, and the Rev. Louis Stovik, 77, were found Wednesday evening, Deputy Police Chief Charlene Graham said.

There were signs of a struggle, however, and it may have left one or more attackers bleeding, authorities said.

``We’ve checked the hospitals but no one has turned up there so far,″ Deputy Coroner Kim Wittrup said.

Police used a trained dog to try to track a trail of blood leading from the front door of the priests’ home behind the church.

``We’re checking every part of the crime scene for anything we can find. We have no idea what the motive was,″ Graham said.

Police Chief Ruben Archuleta, appealing for information from the public, said authorities were worried the priests might have been killed by hard-to-find transients.

People who gathered outside the church said Scheets was known for his generosity and often let beggars into his home.

``I just think they never thought anybody would do anything to them, especially because they were priests,″ parishioner Mary Ellen Towner said.

Word of the crime spread quickly through this former steel-producing city of 100,000 people in the Front Range of the Rockies 120 miles south of Denver.

By midnight, nearly 200 people had gathered around the church _ some lighting novena candles, some crying, a group saying the rosary.

Frank Perez, who lives across the street from the rectory, said no one he knew of saw or heard anything unusual but ``most of us were at work.″

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