Fatal Stabbing of Catholic Priest in Nebraska Church Rectory Break-In

Fatal Stabbing of Catholic Priest in Nebraska Church Rectory Break-In

In Fort Calhoun, a small Nebraska city approximately 20 miles north of Omaha, tragedy struck when authorities and church officials reported that a suspect had broken into the rectory of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church early Sunday morning, resulting in the fatal stabbing of Catholic priest Father Stephen Gutgsell.

Sheriff deputies responded to an attempted break-in at the church and discovered Father Gutgsell with stab wounds around 5 a.m. The 5:00 a.m. attack, allegedly perpetrated by Kierre Williams, unfolded within the church premises. Father Gutgsell was promptly taken to the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.

At the time of the authorities’ arrival, the suspect, 43-year-old Kierre Williams from Sioux City, Iowa, was still inside the church’s rectory. Williams was subsequently arrested on charges of homicide and the use of a weapon to commit a felony.

This tragic incident has deeply affected the tight-knit community of Fort Calhoun, mourning the loss of Father Gutgsell, who served at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

In the wake of the tragic incident at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of Omaha released a statement confirming that Father Stephen Gutgsell had been assaulted during an “invasion at the rectory.”

According to the Omaha World Herald, the archdiocese urged the community to unite in prayer for the repose of Father Gutgsell, his family, and the St. John the Baptist parish community during this grievous time.

Parishioner Mike Fitzgerald, reflecting on the impact of Father Gutgsell’s untimely death, shared that the usual 8:30 a.m. Mass had been canceled. Fitzgerald remembered the priest, who had served at the church for 11 years, as a “very holy man” who actively contributed to the community.

He noted, “He did a lot of things for the community, always making sure that the church bulletin had everything we needed to know about things going on at the church.”

Over a decade ago, Father Stephen Gutgsell faced legal repercussions when he pleaded guilty to theft by deception in 2007, admitting to embezzling $127,000 from a local church. This led to his sentencing of probation and restitution.

At the time, church leaders decided to reassign Gutgsell to another church, expressing their belief that he had learned from his past transgressions and sought forgiveness.

Despite this history, Washington County Sheriff Mike Robinson, speaking to WOWT-TV, stated that his office did not suspect Gutgsell’s death to be connected to his prior criminal troubles.

Authorities declared on Sunday that the Washington County District Attorney’s Office would provide more information about the circumstances of Father Gutgsell’s tragic death.

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