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Man Charged In Death Of Retired Mass. Priest Found Buried In Texas

FALL RIVER (CBS/AP) — A Texas man has been charged in the death of a retired Roman Catholic priest from Massachusetts whose body was found buried in a remote area of far South Texas.

The 71-year-old priest, William "Bill" Costello, was found murdered after he went missing earlier this month.

The Texas Rangers confirmed Friday that the body found Aug. 17 in Willacy County in Texas was that of Costello, a native of Northampton who served in several Massachusetts parishes. He'd last been seen Aug. 1 on South Padre Island.

Father William Costello. (Photo credit: South Padre Island Police in Texas)

The Valley Morning Star in Harlingen, Texas reports that 27-year-old Juan Carlos Baez Escobedo was arrested Wednesday in the slaying. He remained jailed Saturday on $2 million bond on a murder charge. Jail records didn't list an attorney for him.

Costello was ordained a priest for the Fall River Diocese in 1974. He first served as a parochial vicar at St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth until 1978, when he was named chaplain at Sturdy Hospital in Attleboro, according to the Fall River Diocese.

In 1985, he was assigned as parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish, Norton, serving there until 1990 when he was transferred to St. Anthony Parish, Mattapoisett, in the same capacity. He became administrator at St. Mary Parish in Taunton in 1993 and named pastor there in 1994. He was appointed pastor of St. Anthony Parish in East Falmouth in 1999.

Father William-Costello
Father William Costello. (Fall River Diocese photo)

In 2011, he became pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Seekonk. In January 2012, then-Fall River Bishop George Coleman placed Costello on administrative leave following notification 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, and parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish were informed of this at Masses during the weekend of January 14/15, 2012," the Fall River Diocese said in a statement. "No charges were filed against him at any time during the investigation or at its completion."

The investigation "disclosed instances of poor judgment, which resulted in the request of Bishop Coleman that he retire early," the Diocese said.

Costello moved to Texas more than three years ago.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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