July 16th, 2024

Nebraska prosecutors charge man with murder in fatal stabbing of small town priest inside rectory

By Josh Funk, The Associated Press on December 12, 2023.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Nebraska prosecutors have charged a man with first-degree murder, burglary and weapons charges Tuesday in the fatal weekend stabbing of a Catholic priest who authorities say was attacked during a break-in at the rectory where he lived next door to his church in the small town of Fort Calhoun.

Kierre L. Williams, 43, was charged Tuesday with killing the Rev. Stephen Gutgsell on Sunday morning. He was arrested inside Gutgsell’s home Sunday morning just minutes after the priest called 911 to report the break-in. Gutgsell was rushed to an Omaha hospital where he died.

Court documents say Gutgsell was bleeding profusely from wounds on his face, hands and back, and he yelled “Help me” when the first sheriff’s deputy arrived and identified himself.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said Williams is from Sioux City, Iowa, which is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of Fort Calhoun. The Nebraska town of about 1,000 residents is located about 16 miles (26 kilometers) north of Omaha.

Public records show Williams has an extensive criminal record in Texas and Florida, including a 2008 felony conviction in Florida for cocaine possession and fleeing from police.

Williams is facing a misdemeanor assault charge in Sioux City. He is accused of punching someone at a soup kitchen there after getting in an argument in July. The criminal charge against him in that case lists him as homeless.

Williams does not have a lawyer yet in Nebraska and likely won’t make his initial appearance in court until Wednesday. His public defender in the Iowa assault case said he did not know anything about the Nebraska case and hung up on an Associated Press reporter Tuesday morning.

Gutgsell’s stabbing is the second killing in Fort Calhoun this year, adding to the worries for residents.

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