Priest Stabbed to Death in Church Rectory

( – An attempted burglary turned fatal in a small Nebraska town after a suspect stabbed a priest after breaking into a Catholic church early Sunday, December 10th.

Deputies with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office found Father Stephen Gutgsell with multiple stab wounds around 5 a.m. Sheriff Mike Robinson said that they received a 9-1-1 call about a break-in and were on the scene “within minutes” when they found Gutgsell bleeding on the ground.

Kierre Williams is the suspect who was arrested on the scene at the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. Police and EMS rushed Gutgsell to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Williams was arrested and charged with homicide and possession of a weapon in the commission of a felony, according to the Sheriff’s office.

The Omaha Archdiocese published a statement saying that Gutgsell was attacked during a break-in at the rectory. They further asked for prayers for Gutgsell’s family and the St. John the Baptist community.

Local parishioner Mike Fitzgerald speaking with the Omaha-World-Herald that there was no mass when he arrived at 8:30 a.m. Fitzgerald said that Gutgsell had been at the church for 11 years and was a “very holy man.” He indicated that Gutgsell was active in the community.

In 2007, Gutgsell pleaded guilty to fraud charges and embezzling $127,000 from a church. He was sentenced to probation and restitution and was assigned to another church after seeking forgiveness.

Sheriff Mike Robinson said he did not have any reason to believe the break-in and stabbing was related to Gutsgell’s prior criminal conviction. Robinson added that more details will be available in short order from the Washington County District Attorney’s Office which will be prosecuting the suspect for murder.

It’s the second time in recent months a break-in in the area turned deadly. Linda Childers, 71, was found dead in her home on August 14th. Police arrested and charged William P. Collins in that case.

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