Man arrested in case of missing priest in South Texas

August 27, 2018

Texas Rangers arrested a man in connection with the death of a missing Catholic priest from Massachusetts whose body was discovered last week in Willacy County.

Juan Carlos Baez Escobedo, 27, has been charged with murder and is being held in the Willacy County Jail on $2 million bond, said Lt. Johnny Hernandez, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, who declined to discuss further details about the case.

The Rev. William Costello, 71, a retired priest from the Fall River Diocese in Massachusetts, was last seen at the Tiki Condominiums on South Padre Island on August 1.

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“The circumstances of the matter are disturbing,” the diocese announced in a statement about Costello’s death.

Costello’s remains were discovered near a South Texas cemetery in the town of Santa Monica, the diocese said, and authorities have made an arrest in the case.

“Beyond that, the diocese has no other details at this time,” the diocese said.

Costello was ordained a priest in Fall River in 1974 and he had served as the pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish.

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Fall River Bishop George Coleman placed Costello on administrative leave in January 2012 after learning from the Rhode Island State Police that Costello was “part of an investigation it had undertaken,” according to the diocese.

“The investigation did not involve the abuse of minors,” the diocese stated. No charges were filed against Coleman, the diocese said, and Coleman later moved to South Texas.

John Tedesco is a staff writer in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | jtedesco@express-news.net | Twitter: @John_Tedesco

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