More than a year after police discovered the bodies of two Catholic priests in a car in southern Bogota, Colombia, investigators have revealed a shocking new twist. What had appeared to be a robbery and a homicide has actually turned out to be a suicide and a murder, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Just before the Rev. Rafael Reatiga was found shot to death alongside the Rev. Richard Piffano, Reatiga addressed his parish, asking them to pray for him and to arrange a list of songs for his funeral. Reatiga then disappeared, only to be found dead hours later.
Reatiga had apparently been diagnosed with AIDS and the two Catholic priests had agreed on a suicide pact. On Tuesday, prosecutor Ana Patricia Larrota said investigators had determined that the priests had contracted hitmen to kill them, according to the Associated Press. The hitmen were paid the equivalent of $8,500.
The two priests had originally planned to jump off of a cliff together, but could not bring themselves to carry out the deadly deed. Relatives maintain that the victims were robbed and killed and deny any suspicions that the two were involved in a gay relationship.
However, Reatiga, who had also contracted syphilis, had been a regular visitor to a central Bogota neighborhood frequented by gays, according to a witness. The two assassins, Gildardo Alberto Penante and Isidro Castiblanco, were located when authorities traced their telephone numbers from the cell phones of the priests. They were charged with aggravated homicide and if convicted, each man could face up to 40 years in prison.