Investigation Into Death of Former Priest Delayed Due to COVID-19

Investigation Into Death of Former Priest Delayed Due to COVID-19

PINCKNEYVILLE (AP) – An investigation into the death of a southern Illinois priest who died shortly after going to prison for child pornography and drug possession has been delayed due to COIVD-19, according to officials.

Perry County Coroner Paul Searby told the Belleville News-Democrat it’s impossible to determine the cause of 56-year-old Gerald Hechenberger’s March 6 death because he hasn’t received the investigative reports from the Illinois Department of Correctiions.

The warden of Pinckneyville Correctional Center, where Hechenberger had just begun serving a 9-year sentence, agreed the virus crisis has delayed the probe.

Hechenberger was a priest at a Mascoutah church when he was arrested in 2018.

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