A homeless “career criminal” who just got out of jail has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a priest last week at a Phoenix church.
Local cops collared Gary Michael Moran, 54, last night at a halfway house after tipsters reported he’d been bragging about the June 11 robbery that killed Father Kenneth Walker, 28, and injured Father Joseph Terra, 56.
Here’s what you should know about Moran, his history and the shocking incident that prompted his latest arrest.
1. It Was Father Terra’s Gun That Killed Father Walker
Speaking at a press conference, Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia confirmed the gun that shot Father Walker dead belonged to Father Terra.
Terra told cops he was home at the Mother of Mercy Mission on June 11 when he heard a noise outside in a courtyard and opened the door. He says a man with an angle iron brutally attacked him. The priest ran — or crawled, he couldn’t remember — to grab a gun that he keeps in a nightstand by his bed. There was a struggle, during which the assailant got the gun and ordered Terra onto his hands and knees. Terra “blacked out,” according to the account detailed in court documents obtained by news outlets including the Arizona Republic.
Chief Garcia confirmed at today’s press conference: “There was a weapon there. It did belong to father Terra. And [Moran] was able to take the gun away from him.”
Garcia said Father Walker heard the commotion, came out of his room to help and was shot dead.
Read the full police report below.
2. Moran Did Hard Time for Another Brutal Home Invasion
Chief Garcia described Moran as a “career criminal” with a long rapsheet and history of aggravated assault.
His crimes include a burglary in which he entered a home and stabbed the homeowner in the gut with a steak knife, resulting in a lengthy sentence.
In the priest slaying, Moran faces the following charges, according to a Phoenix Police news release: first degree murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, theft, theft of means of transportation (stolen vehicle), misconduct involving weapons, burglary.
He’s held on $1 million bond.
3. He Got Out of Jail 2 Months Ago
Moran was released from custody on April 24, 2014. The Arizona Corrections website has details of his incarceration.
Since his release he’ been living on the streets and in shelters.
Calling Moran a “career criminal,” Chief Garcia said, “The fact is, he immediately went back to business.”
After his arrest, Garcia said, Moran “admitted to the struggle” with a priest before invoking his right to remain silent.
4. Investigators Found Moran’s DNA on the Victim’s Stolen Car
Police found Walker’s vehicle abandoned several blocks away from the church, according to the Daily Mail. The crime lab collected a DNA sample from transfer stains on the inside of the driver’s side door that matched back to Moran.
5. Cops Say He Bragged About the Crime
Moran couldn’t keep his mouth shut about the assault, and a woman, identified as Ms. Forrester, that he asked to hold on to a camera taken from the priest, turned him into police. After his arrest, he wouldn’t tell police his reasoning behind the crime, Garcia said.
No motive has been established, but investigators believe it was a robbery gone wrong.
He didn’t go into why he did it, but he did talk to us about being there, the struggle that ensued, and then he invoked his rights [to an attorney].