Woman who stabbed Indian River priest says she couldn’t afford her medication

| August 5, 2009

VERO BEACH — The woman who is accused of stabbing a priest at Holy Cross Catholic Church now has a more earthly explanation for her actions.

At the time of her arrest on April 26, Josephine Gatchell, 57, said the priest, the Rev. Michael Massaro, was the devil.

Now, after months in jail, she blamed her actions on having stopped buying medication because her house payments had gone up, forcing her into foreclosure, according to her hand-written letter in court files.

Gatchell, is charged with felony aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, criminal mischief of a religious building and resisting arrest with violence.

In addition to the stabbing, she is accused of stealing a vessel, called a monstrance, from the church in January. She told officers it needed to be kept away from Massaro, who she described as the anti-Christ, court records show.

Her trial is pending a mental evaluation ordered by Circuit Judge Robert Hawley.

She is accused of stabbing Massaro with a knife the afternoon of April 25 just after his last confession in the church in the 500 block of Iris Lane, Vero Beach.

Now he is back at work and declined comment about the case, according to a spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach, which includes the Treasure Coast.

Gatchell’s assistant public defender entered a not guilty plea, said Mark Harllee, chief assistant public defender. He declined further comment.

Assistant State Attorney Jason Bruen said he plans to continue to prosecute Gatchell.

In her four-page letter, Gatchell wrote, “I am very ashamed at myself.” She said she had been praying that the state will drop the charges.

“When I first got here I was put into a little room that was so cold I thought I was going to die. I stayed there for 70 days. I was very afraid.”

Finally a doctor gave her medication and now “my mind is fine,” she wrote.

“I would like to become a productive member of society.

“I am ashamed of myself. I can’t believe I did what I did,” she wrote. “I believe I can help other people in the mental health field. I am asking for mercy.”



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Category: Church Security

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