Priest Stabbing Suspect Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity

| September 22, 2009

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — A woman accused of stabbing a priest in a confessional at a Vero Beach church was found not guilty by reason of insanity Tuesday.

Police said Josephine Gatchell, 57, entered Holy Cross Catholic Church in April and twice stabbed the Rev. Michael Massaro while he was changing out of his robe after giving his last confession.

Earlier this year, a friend who housed Gatchell after the incident told WPBF 25 News that Gatchell had been harboring suspicions about the priest and believed Massaro was "the Antichrist." Grace Deal said Gatchell claimed she had been in a domestic dispute and needed a place to stay.

According to the arrest affidavit, Gatchell told police she stabbed Massaro with a "big knife." However, a large, wooden crucifix that Gatchell wore around her neck may have been the weapon.

"Nobody ever said to me that it could have been the weapon, but (police) asked me if I had seen it," Deal told WPBF 25 News.

Prior to the incident, Gatchell had been arrested after she allegedly broke off a piece of a religious statue at the church and tried to leave with it.

A complaint affidavit from Jan. 27 states that Gatchell "was very distraught" when she came to the church to retrieve the statue, known as the Monstrance. According to the affidavit, Gatchell told police she was taking the statue to keep it away from Massaro.

Gatchell will be committed to a state mental health facility.

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Category: Church Security

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