Remembering Murdered Priests: 25 Years Later

| February 18, 2012

BUFFALO, NY- This year marks 25 years since a crime that sent chills throughout Western New York. Father Joseph Bissonette and Monsignor David Herlihy were murdered within days of each other. This weekend, Western New York Catholics will be celebrating their lives. Now the detective who helped crack the case is sharing his story.

St. Matthew's is shuddered, lies dark and empty with shards of broken glass. St. Bartholomew's is also closed, and inhabited by a new congregation. Much has changed in the 25 years since the priests at those two East Side parishes were brutally murdered, but for retired Buffalo Police Det. Dan DiPirro who worked the cases, his memories couldn't be more fresh and alive. "We knew we had a serious problem on our hands."

February 24, 1987 Father Joseph Bissonette, was brutally bound, gagged and stabbed in St. Bartholomew's rectory. Eleven days later, it was the same fate for 70-year-old Monsignor David Herlihy in the St. Matthew's rectory. "We didn't know what we had. We didn't know if it was someone who hated the church, if it was an anti-religious thing," DiPirro added. "Something to do with illegal immigrants because there were people found hiding in the fourth floor of the rectory."

But it turned out to be much simpler. 17-year-old Milton Jones and 18-year-old Theodore Simmons were looking for bingo money. "The priests probably never had any cash around to amount to anything and they probably gave up what they had in the rectory and these guys thought there was more there."–25-Years-Later

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