A Diocese of Austin priest who disappeared while preparing a retirement home in the border town of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico remains missing, with police saying there is not enough evidence to determine if a crime was committed.
The 69-year-old Fr. Jesse Euresti, a priest at Cristo Rey Catholic Church in east Austin, was last heard from on early Tuesday morning when he called his sister to tell her he was close to the border. Later on Tuesday, the priest’s Nuevo Laredo neighbors called police after finding the priest’s garage door wide open.
Mexican police discovered blood and a knife inside of the home and feared foul play was involved. Authorities have asked the priest’s sister to provide a DNA sample so they can confirm if blood found inside the home belongs to Fr. Euresti.
Police are also searching for a man who lived at the house, Martin Torres. Torres was initially described as an assistant but was referred to as a caretaker in later reports.
Authorities do not suspect the possible crime is tied to drug violence.
Bishop of Austin Gregory Aymond said the diocese has been in conversation with agencies investigating Fr. Euresti’s disappearance.
"We have been told that the investigation into his disappearance is ongoing. We continue to pray for Father Jesse. We ask everyone to remember him, his family and the parishioners of Cristo Rey in their prayers," he said.
According to KEYETV.com, parishioners at Cristo Rey Church gathered on Thursday for another night of prayer.
Some parishioners said that they spoke with Fr. Euresti on Sunday after Mass.
"The last thing I remember was I was talking to him," said Encarnacion Mendoza. "I was walking across the street with him and I told him he was a good man. That was it, not much."
He and other parishioners reported that the priest is a beloved member of the community and said they were hopeful that he is safe.
Another parishioner, Jesse Flores, said Fr. Euresti’s disappearance made him feel like he has lost somebody.
"He was a good person. He talked to you about God. I don't know what happened. God is going to do something. I hope nothing happened to him," Flores told KEYETV.com.
"Father Jessie, wherever you are, I hope you're ok."