Ex-priest convicted in beauty queen’s murder dies while serving life, says authorities.

FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2017 file photo, John Bernard Feit leaves the 92nd state District Court in Feit

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A former Catholic priest convicted of the 1960 murder of a young teacher and beauty queen died Friday while serving a life sentence at a Texas prison.

The preliminary cause of death for John Feit, 86, was cardiac arrest, according to a statement from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  

“Offender Feit was pronounced dead at 5:38 a.m. Tuesday at Huntsville Hospital,” the statement said. “He had been found unresponsive just before 5:00 a.m. in his cell at the Estelle Unit. His next of kin have been notified. Preliminary cause of death is cardiac arrest.”

Feit was found guilty of the murder of Irene Garza in 2016, over 50 years after he bludgeoned the 25-year-old McAllen, Texas elementary school teacher, suffocated her with a plastic bag then sexually assaulted her before dumping the body in a canal.

FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2017 file photo, John Bernard Feit leaves the 92nd state District Court in Feit's trial for the 1960 murder of Irene Garza at the Hidalgo County Courthouse in Edinburg, Texas. Prison officials say Feit, a former Texas priest who was sentenced to life in prison for the 1960 killing of a schoolteacher died Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 at Huntsville Hospital.(Nathan Lambrecht/The Monitor via AP File) ORG XMIT: TXMCA301

Garza was crowned Miss All-Texas Sweetheart in 1958 before becoming a second-grade teacher to indigent students.

A devout Catholic, Garza went to confessional at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, located within Hidalgo County, on the day she was murdered. Feit, who was 27 at the time of the murder, was a priest at the church.

Authorities suspected Feit from the beginning, but he denied killing Garza, despite admitting to police that he heard Garza’s confession in the rectory instead of in the confessional.

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