Breaking News
More () »

1981 murder of Catholic priest in Odessa reopened as cold case

Police found serious doubts in the intoxicated confession of the man they originally convicted but later found could not be at the scene of the murder.

ODESSA, Texas — The Odessa Police Department has announced it will be reopening an old murder case.

Father Patrick Ryan, a Catholic priest, was murdered at a hotel in Odessa in Dec. 1981.

Investigators initially arrested and convicted a man named James Harry Reyos.

However, doubts about Reyos' guilt had been present for the past few decades, and in 2021 Chief of Police Mike Gerke was made aware of these questions.

Gerke reportedly ordered the Special Operations Bureaue to review the case.

During the review, investigators found serious questions about the case, particularly concerning Reyos' conviction being based almost entirely on an intoxicated confession while in New Mexico that he later recounted.

Evidence also revealed Reyos could not have been present at the crime scene at the time of the murder and fingerprints found at the scene did not belong to Reyos.

OPD presented these findings to the Ector County District Attorney's Office, who came to the same conclusion.

Now, over 40 years late, the murder of Ryan has been reopened and has been assigned to the cold case detective.

Anyone with information on this case should contact OPD at 432-335-496.

Before You Leave, Check This Out