Two priests, a sex offender, and a murder on Cape Cod

Two priests, a sex offender, and a murder on Cape Cod

Diogenes goes into even more detail today about the connection between two priests and the sex offender suspected of murdering a 20-year-old man on Cape Cod, Jonathan Wessner.

(See this earlier entry for background.)

Fr. Bernard Kelly, it turns out, was the host of the dinner party at which suspected killer Paul Nolin picked up his victim. Also in attendance was Nolin’s former therapist when he was in an institution for the sexually dangerous, Fr. Donald Turlick. Turlick, Kelly, and Nolin were apparently “good friends,” according to Nolin’s lawyer. And Turlick seemed to overstep the bounds of professional ethics in fraternizing with a former inmate. (See Diogenes’ post for details of Turlick’s therapy techniques.)

[Update: It seems I conflated two different events. Kelly, Turlick, and Nolin were at a dinner party together at Kelly’s home a few days before the disappearance of Wessner.  Then on the night of the disappearance, there was a party in Turlick’s basement (where Nolin was living) where Nolin picked up Wessner and then allegedly killed him.]

There were some questions about Turlick, whether he was actually a priest or not. So I called the Bridgeport Diocese and asked. The spokesman told me that Turlick was ordained for Bridgeport in 1961 and in the late 1970s the bishop gave him permission to live and work outside the diocese and pursue his education and counseling work. He has had no assignment from the diocese since the late 1970s. There have been no complaints about him and he remains a priest in good standing with the diocese. It is also their understanding that he has not been active as a priest with a public ministry. And he had no good idea why Turlick was not listed in Kennedy’s comrepehensive 2002 Catholic Directory and thought it might have been a clerical error.

This brings up another question regarding priests who serve outside their home diocese, especially in jobs that have nothing to do with the Catholic priesthood. Who oversees people like Turlick? Who ensures he is living and working and teaching according to the Catholic faith? In a time of a priest shortage, why is a priest working as a therapist outside his home diocese? Did Turlick have to check in with his home diocese more than two decades later? It all seems very fishy to me.

Update: A friend makes some interesting observations and asks some cogent questions.

This just does not compute. Kenedy doesn’t miss too many priests. And a 20+-year absence is suggestive of something major.

  • If he’s a priest in good standing, why shouldn’t he be active in public ministry?

  • His interest in “satiation therapy” doesn’t exactly indicate a deep Catholic sensibility.

  • If your wife says that she needs some time by herself, I can understand that: a day, a weekend maybe. But if she needs 20 years to herself, I think it’s fair to say that something’s wrong with the marriage.