Housekeeper’s husband arrested in connection with murder of Irish bishop in LA

The bishop, described as a ‘peacemaker’, was found dead in his home in Torrance city at the weekend.

By Grinne N. Aodha
Tuesday 21 February 2023 11:49 GMT
Bishop David O’Connell, of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was found dead in Hacienda Heights, California (AP)
Bishop David O’Connell, of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was found dead in Hacienda Heights, California (AP) (AP)

A man has been arrested in connection with the murder of Irish bishop David O’Connell in Los Angeles County in California.

Carlos Medina, aged 65, is the husband of the bishop’s housekeeper, police said.

The 69-year-old Auxiliary bishop, who is originally from Co Cork, was found dead at his home in Hacienda Heights in the Torrance city area of LA County on Saturday February 18.

“Bishop O’Connell sustained at least one gunshot wound to the upper body while in the bedroom of his residence,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said.

After police launched a murder investigation, they received a tip that Medina may be a person of interest, and had been “strange, irrational, and made comments about the bishop owing him money”.

“Medina is the husband of Bishop O’Connell’s housekeeper, (and had) previously done work at the bishop’s residence,” Mr Luna told a press conference.

The sheriff said they had received information that Medina had left his home, but had then later returned.

Officers with warrants for his arrest and the search of his residence attended the home of Medina at around 2am (10am Irish time).

“Carson Sheriff station deputies, along with our major crime bureau detectives, contained the location and conducted callouts for Medina to surrender, but he refused. He refused to come out of his residence.”

Following additional callouts made calling on him to surrender, at around 8.15am on Monday (4.15pm Irish time), police said Mr Medina “exited his residence and was taken into custody without further incident”.

Two firearms and other possible items of evidence has been recovered from his home, Mr Luna said, and are due to be tested.

Detectives are interviewing Mr Medina’s wife, who police said had been fully cooperative. She had not been working on the day the bishop was found dead.

Mr Luna said it was not a certainty that there was a dispute between Bishop O’Connell and Medina, and added that other witnesses would be interviewed to “get a better picture” of what had happened.

There is no evidence of forced entry to the residence, he added.

Mr Luna paid tribute to Bishop O’Connell, saying that he had received many phone calls from people who had worked with him.

“This man, this bishop, made a huge difference in our community. He was loved, and it’s very sad that we’re gathered here today to talk about his murder.”

The bishop has been remembered as a “peacemaker” who brought groups together, who had reached out to gang members and homeless people, and had a “passion” for serving those in need.

Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose H Gomez said he had served in the city for 40 years, was fluent in Spanish, and spoke it with an Irish accent.

“Every day he worked to show compassion to the poor, to the homeless, to the immigrant, and to all those living on society’s margins,” he said.

“He was a good priest and a good bishop, and a man of peace. And we are very sad to lose him.”

The bishop’s native Diocese of Cork and Ross said that shockwaves had been sent across its community.

Bishop Fintan Gavin said: “On behalf of the people, priests and religious of the Diocese of Cork and Ross, and on my own behalf, I wish to express my sympathies and prayerful support to the O’Connell Family here in Cork, to Archbishop Jose H Gomes and the people, priests and religious of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

“Since his ordination in 1979 Bishop David has served as a priest in LA but has always maintained his connection with family and friends in Cork where has been a regular visitor.”

He added that the bishop had “worked tirelessly for peace and harmony in communities”.

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