An ex-priest who was indicted last month for allegedly murdering a Texas beauty queen in 1960 after listening to her confession at church has been extradited from Arizona to Texas, say authorities.
On Wednesday, longtime Arizona resident John Feit, 83, was released from the Maricopa County jail, where he has been held since his Feb. 9 arrest, and transferred to Texas, where he was booked at the Hidalgo County jail, a representative in the Hidalgo County prosecutor’s office confirms to PEOPLE.
Texas Rangers joined police officers from McAllen, Texas, where the murder allegedly took place, to go get Feit in Arizona and bring him back to Texas, where he is awaiting his arraignment.
Feit was indicted Feb. 10 in Texas’s Hidalgo Court for allegedly murdering Irene Garza, a 25-year-old teacher who was named Miss All South Texas Sweetheart in 1958.
He faces a charge of first-degree murder.
New evidence in the decades-long case led authorities to arrest Feit last month in Scottsdale, according to Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez, who declined to discuss details.
“We do believe in the principal tenets of our Constitution and our judicial system that one is innocent until proven guilty,” Rodriguez said. “However, we are confident that after a jury hears all of the facts and evidence, we will get past the threshold of beyond a reasonable doubt.”
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Priest Was Last to See Beauty Queen Alive: Authorities
According to authorities, Feit was the last person to see Garza alive after he heard her confession at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas, on April 16, 1960, the night before Easter.
She was found dead, face-down in a canal five days later. An autopsy showed that Garza had been raped while she was unconscious and died from suffocation.
Authorities at the time questioned Feit after they found items belonging to the church, including a candelabra, near her body. They also found a Kodak slide photo viewer that authorities say belonged to him.
Feit allegedly told investigators that Garza left the rectory after she gave him her confession and that the last time he saw her was when she was standing outside the church.
“This whole thing makes no sense to me, because the crime in question took place in 1960,” Feit told the judge on Feb. 10.
Authorities questioned Feit again in 2003. A grand jury heard the case in 2004 but decided not to indict him.
According to the most recent indictment, the grand jury decided there was enough evidence to charge Feit now, stating that the ex-priest, in Hidalgo County, “did then and there, with malice aforethought cause the death of Irene Garza by asphyxiation in a manner and means unknown to the grand jury.”
Information about Feit’s attorney was not immediately available.