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Man charged in priest’s death

August 25, 2018

RAYMONDVILLE — Texas Rangers have identified a body found in remote Willacy County as that of a retired Roman Catholic priest who went missing more than three weeks ago on South Padre Island.

On Friday, an autopsy conducted four days earlier confirmed the buried remains are those of William “Bill” Costello, 71, a retired Massachusetts parish priest.

Hours before that announcement, a judge ordered Juan Carlos Baez Escobedo, 27, held on $2 million bail after charging him with murder in connection with Costello’s death.

On Wednesday, Baez Escobedo was booked into the Willacy County Jail after Texas Rangers arrested him. The day before, Baez Escobedo had been held in the Cameron County Jail, where he was facing a South Padre Island charge of tampering with physical evidence.

After his arrest, authorities said Baez Escobedo lived in Brownsville. However, his booking sheet lists a San Benito address, Sheriff Larry Spence said Friday.

The case remains under investigation, said Lt. Johnny Hernandez, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Earlier this week, Maj. Ernie Garcia of the Willacy County Sheriff’s Department said authorities were investigating “multiple suspects.”

A more complete version of this story is available on www.myBrownsvilleHerald.com

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