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Priest Found Dead in Fire at Rectory Was Fatally Shot

December 09, 2002|From Associated Press

CLEVELAND — A Roman Catholic priest found dead in his church's rectory after a fire had been shot to death, authorities said Sunday.

Father William Gulas, 69, pastor of St. Stanislaus Church, died of a single gunshot wound to the chest Saturday, the county coroner said. His death was ruled a homicide. Police said they are investigating a motive.

"Father Gulas was very well liked in the community and he had a number of friends, so this is really a mystery," a spokeswoman for Mayor Jane Campbell said.

A preliminary investigation shows Gulas had been shot and suffered a blow to the top of his head before the fire was set, the Cuyahoga County coroner said. Fire officials said the cause of the fire had not been determined; the arson unit was investigating.

Gulas was found in a first-floor office in the rectory. Two others escaped.

Gulas came to St. Stanislaus in 1993 and led a campaign to renovate the 129-year-old church in the city's Slavic Village neighborhood.

"I know what a tremendous personal loss this is for this parish," Bishop Anthony Pilla said during a Saturday night Mass for Gulas at St. Stanislaus. "We're just going to miss a good, holy priest in our midst."

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