Louisiana priest confirmed as victim in double homicide, archbishop offers prayers


Father Otis Young, the former pastor at St. Peter Catholic Church in Covington, Louisiana, was killed in a double homicide less than a year after his retirement. / Screenshot 2020 YouTube video

Boston, Mass., Nov 30, 2022 / 13:35 pm (CNA).

Authorities have positively identified Father Otis Young, a local Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, as one of the victims of a double homicide.

The St. Tammany Coroner’s office said Tuesday that the cause of death was “sharp- and blunt-force trauma.” The homicide occurred either Sunday night or Monday morning, the office said.

New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond released a statement Wednesday offering prayers for both Young and Ruth Prats, who worked closely with Young as a church staff member until Young’s retirement earlier this year. Aymond said that she is listed as a missing person.

CNA contacted the local police to confirm that Prats is still listed as missing but did not hear back by time of publication.

“The horror of the events that have unfolded here in Covington is beyond shocking. The pain, sadness, and disbelief that something like this could happen will stay with us, but particularly those who are most directly affected, for a very long time,” Aymond said in the statement.

Aymond said that “as we await confirmation of the second victim, I offer my prayers for both victims of this heinous crime. In a particular way we prayerfully remember Father Otis, a beloved pastor who touched the lives of so many with his faith, warmth, and pastoral heart. This is a loss for our Church and for the entire community.”

Young, 71, who retired in July, was pastor for approximately 10 years at St. Peter Catholic Church in Covington, Louisiana. His body, along with another victim’s body, was found “burned beyond recognition” less than a mile away from the church, according to police. Fox8live.com reported that the bodies were found behind a glass store in downtown Covington.

Fox8live.com reported that the bodies of Young and the other victim were found hours after Young and Prats were reported missing.

The coroner’s office says it expects to have an identification of the second victim by the end of the week.

“Let us continue to pray for the repose of the soul of Father Otis and for Ruth Prats who remains missing, and for both their families and all who are suffering. Let us pray that we may all know God’s love, mercy, and hope,” Aymond said.

On Monday evening, police announced that they had taken a suspect, 49-year-old Antonio Donde Tyson of Covington, into custody.

Tyson was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree kidnapping, two counts of obstruction of justice, one count of resisting an officer, and one count of illegal possession of stolen things.

Fox8live.com reported that Tyson was released from prison in August after serving part of a sentence he received in 1993. The outlet reported that he was serving time for charges of forcible rape and home invasion.

Nola.com reported that Tyson was working as a landscaper with his brother since his release a few months ago. Tyson’s sister, Leslie Tyson, said that she was “numb,” according to nola.com.

“He was always with his family. He went to church every Sunday. I’m in disbelief,” the sister said, according to the outlet.

“The St. Peter Parish community is devastated at the announcement that one of the victims in yesterday’s double homicide in downtown Covington is confirmed to be that of Father Otis Young, Jr. We are deeply saddened, and ask that you join us in praying for Father Otis and Ruth, who is still listed as a missing person, as well as for their families,” Aymond said in his statement.

“I extend my prayerful support and that of the clergy, religious, and laity of the archdiocese to the Covington community and in particular for the parishioners of St. Peter Parish. I also want to extend my gratitude and prayers to the law enforcement personnel, the coroner, and all authorities who have worked so carefully and thoroughly through these very difficult circumstances,” Aymond said.

“For all those who are hurting and asking how this could happen, may I humbly offer that we turn to Our Lord Jesus in this time of mourning,” he added.

St. Peter Catholic Church said in an online post Tuesday that the parish is “devastated” at the news of Young’s death.

“We are deeply saddened, and ask that you join us in praying for Father Otis and Ruth, who is still listed as a missing person, as well as for their families,” the post said.

On Monday night, an hour of eucharistic adoration was held at St. Peter Catholic Church to offer prayers for the victims.

Father Daniel Brouillette, pastor of the church, said at the Holy Hour that “we are in a state of shock, horror, and disbelief.”

“Even as we grieve we must forgive. That is hard tonight,” he said.

Imploring the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Brouillette said: “May she wrap them in her heavenly mantle, may she do the same for us.”

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