Sicilian Priest Murdered After Allegedly Blabbing About His Parishioners’ Sins

Crime
A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
April 24 2013 1:57 PM

That’s No Excuse: The Angry Parishioner Who “Accidentally” Beat His Priest to Death With a Hoe

A general view of the church of San Giuseppe on June 11, 2011 in Taormina, Italy.
A general view of the church of San Giuseppe on June 11, 2011 in Taormina, Italy.

Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

“That’s No Excuse” is an occasional series spotlighting unconvincing criminal alibis.

Advertisement

Crime: Murder.

The facts: There are many ways in which Americans and Europeans are different. Americans say soccer, while Europeans say football. Americans like plush bath towels, while Europeans like weird scratchy ones. Americans, when they have an issue with their priest or minister, will generally just stop going to church. Europeans, if one recent story is to be believed, will beat the offending cleric to death with a hoe.

The Daily Mail brings us the story of Antonio Incandela, an unemployed Sicilian man who became angry with his priest's alleged habit of taking sins that were confessed in the privacy of the confessional and repurposing them as anecdotes for his sermons. According to the Daily Mail, Father Michele di Stefano had a bad habit of peppering his homilies with stories of his parishioners' transgressions, often barely bothering to conceal the sinners' identities.

It is impolitic at best and wildly unethical at worst for a priest to breach the privacy of the confessional like that—especially in a small town, where everyone knows everyone else—and I can certainly understand why churchgoers would get upset if this happened. But Incandela reportedly took his anger a bit further than that, breaking into the rectory and bludgeoning the priest to death with a hoe.

The alibi: Incandela claimed that Father di Stefano’s death was unintended. He says he only wanted to teach the priest a lesson by thrashing him about the legs a bit. But apparently it was very dark, and Incandela aimed high when he should've been aiming low.

Why this is a bad alibi: Because it makes no sense. If you want to teach someone a lesson, you push him into a pond or let the air out of his tires. Sneaking into someone’s house in dark of night to attack them with a blunt instrument is the sort of thing you do if you want to teach them a lesson they won’t laugh about later.

The irony here is that Incandela was apparently upset at being dubbed a "bad apple" by Father di Stefano. Now, the priest seems like a prophet.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.

  Slate Plus
Working
Dec. 18 2014 4:49 PM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 17 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked a middle school principal about his workday.