After-Mass slaying rattles Ohio Catholic church

| January 27, 2010

(01-26) 15:04 PST Youngstown, Ohio (AP) — A Roman Catholic bishop asked parishioners not to abandon their church after an 80-year-old woman was killed during a robbery after a weekend Mass.

Angeline Fimognari was shot in the head shortly after leaving St. Dominic's Parish on Saturday morning in Youngstown's South Side neighborhood. Police believe she was the last person to leave Mass that morning. She was found slumped over in the driver's side of her car in the church parking lot and her purse was missing.

George Murry, bishop of the Youngstown Diocese, said the church was upgrading security and encouraged church members "to continue attending the parish."

Police also hoped increased patrols will help the public feel more secure. A reward of up to $10,000 has been offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

"We are getting phone calls from the public and we're running down those leads, but at this point we don't have our finger on any particular suspect," Capt. Rod Foley, the police department's chief of detectives, said Tuesday.

Foley would not release details of the investigation or say what, if anything, was recorded on the church's outside surveillance cameras.

Longtime parishioner Maggy Lorenzi, who lives nearby, was shocked.

"It's an 80-year-old woman coming out of the house of God," Lorenzi said. "Can you imagine that woman's last moment with that gun? This murder and the condition of the South Side is heartbreaking."

The neighborhood started to decline after the church's school closed about 15 years ago, Lorenzi said. A town watch group that met at the church disbanded about two years ago, she said.

The area has not been a hotbed of criminal activity, but Mayor Jay Williams said the neighborhood — like others in the city — has been deteriorating and had seen its share of crime and blight.

Police and city officials hope the increased police presence will provide some reassurance, but Williams doesn't expect that to end violence.

"This happens in our country," he said. "Unfortunately, it happens too many times in Youngstown, Ohio."

The slaying was the city's fourth homicide for the year. Police said Tuesday that there were 24 homicides in 2009 in the city, which has fewer than 70,000 residents.

Bishop Murry planned to celebrate the Wednesday morning Mass usually attended by the victim to join the parish community in praying for her.

He called the crime a "horrific and shocking event in and of itself, but especially because it occurred at a holy place."

"During this difficult time, it is important to remember that we must not only work together as a community to solve this crime but also to help people in need so that they will not turn to violence," he said in a statement.

Fimognari attended morning Mass regularly and often stayed afterward to pray, said the church's pastor, the Rev. Gregory Maturi.

Family and friends say Fimognari was a cancer survivor who prayed for many people.

"She gave to you, and wanted nothing in return," said her sister, Betty Milano.

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Category: Church Security