A retired Catholic priest has been identified as one of two murder victims whose bodies were found “burned beyond recognition” in eastern Louisiana, authorities said.
Father Otis Young, 71, was identified as one of the victims found in downtown Covington, Louisiana, the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s office told USA TODAY.
About 7 a.m. Monday, police found two apparent homicide victims burned, the Covington Police Department said in a news release on Facebook. Covington is about one hour north of New Orleans.
Young’s death is ruled a homicide as a result of blunt and sharp force trauma, the coroner’s office said. The other victim, yet to be identified is also being ruled as a homicide, the office said.
The coroner’s office hopes to use DNA evidence to identify the other victim by the end of the week, St. Tammany Parish coroner Charles Preston told WVUE, a Fox TV station in New Orleans.
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Young’s associate, Ruth Prats, is missing, police told WDSU, an NBC TV station in New Orleans. She had volunteered to assist Young after he had a stroke in 2020, NOLA.com reported.
Young had been a pastor at St. Peter Catholic Church for 10 years before retiring in June, NOLA.com reported.
Officers arrested Antonio Donde Tyson, 49, of Covington, and charged him with two counts each of first-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping, and obstruction of justice, and one count each of resisting an officer and illegal possession of stolen things, police said.
Tyson was released from state prison three months ago after serving 30 years for rape, NOLA.com reported.
Covington police canceled a news conference scheduled for Tuesday and have not rescheduled it.
Police did not immediately respond to a request for additional information from USA TODAY.
Tyson had no affiliation with the church, St. Peter Catholic Church posted on its website. A funeral mass will be held Monday (Dec. 5) for Father Young; Archbishop Gregory Aymond of the Archdiocese of New Orleans will officiate.
“The horror of the events that have unfolded here in Covington is beyond shocking,” Aymond said in a statement.
“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. Today as we await confirmation of the second victim, I offer my prayers for both victims of this heinous crime,” he said. “Let us continue to pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Otis and for Ruth Prats who remains missing, and for both their families and all who are suffering.”
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.