Father Joseph Moreno

Father Joe Moreno

Date:

Saturday,October 13, 2012

Crime:
Suspected Homicide
Location:

Buffalo, NY

Age:

54

Occupation:

Catholic Priest

Father Joseph Moreno, known to his parishioners and friends simply as "Father Joe," was a 54-year-old priest serving at Saint Lawrence Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo, New York. He came from a tight-knit and devout family.Sometime before 3:00PM on the afternoon of October 13, 2012, Father Joe was found dead in his rectory by Deacon Paul Weisenburger after he failed to arrive for a scheduled service. Father Joe was seated in his recliner and had a gunshot wound to his head. Another witness, Matthew Lynch, was also at the rectory, but did not see Father Joe's body because he was forbidden by Deacon Weisenburger from going upstairs into Father Joe's office.

Deacon Weisenburger called Monsignor David LiPuma, who immediately came to the scene. Lynch stated that he heard sounds like furniture being moved around while Deacon Weisenburger and Monsignor LiPuma were there.

Emergency services were not called until approximately 3:45PM. By the time they arrived, several items were missing from Father Joe's office including his files, his fax machine, and various personal items.

Police, firefighters, and other emergency responders arrived at approximately 4:00PM. They found a .38 revolver between Father Joe's leg and the armrest of the chair. They bagged the gun in a plastic bag, then went about investigating the death as a suicide.

A partial autopsy was performed by Dr. Dianne R. Vertes. She determined that Father Joe's manner of death was suicide.

There are a few problems with this diagnosis. First, Father Joe was shot behind his left ear, meaning he would have had to have used his left hand to shoot himself. But Father Joe had almost no use of that hand from a knife wound he suffered when he was attacked inside the church on a previous occasion. Parishioners and his family have stated this to be true. Second, there wasn't any blood spatter on the chair, the nearby wall, nor the carpet. There was "contact" blood on the chair, but no spatter. Third, the position of his body appeared to be staged, with his legs crossed in front of his as if he were completely relaxed.

Father Joe's twin sister, Sue Moreno, has been fighting with the Erie County Medical Examiner's office ever since Dr. Vertes determined his manner of death to be a suicide. She says that once Dr. Vertes was made aware of Father's Joe's injured hand, Dr. Vertes said she would change the manner of death to homicide if Sue could get the medical records proving the injury. Sue tried getting the worker's compensation files from the Buffalo Diocese, but was stonewalled. In the meantime, Dr. Vertes suddenly retired.

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Case Documents

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Chronological Order of Events

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Father Joe’s Schedule

June to October, 2012
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Phone Records

October 2-13, 2012
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Buffalo Fire Department Incident Report

October 13, 2012
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Dispatch Report

October 13, 2012
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Father Joe’s Calendar

October 13, 2012
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Intra-Departmental Correspondence

October 13, 2012
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ATF Firearm Trace Summary

October 17, 2012
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Law Enforcement Report – Thomas Costello

October 18, 2012
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Eulogy by Sue Moreno

October 19, 2012
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DNA Comparison

November 20, 2012
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Autopsy Report

May 2, 2013
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Letter to Cyril Wecht – Diane Alba

May 6, 2015
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Letters from Carol Kaufman

May 8, 2015
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Letter from Carol Curtin

May 12, 2015
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Letter from Carol and Douglas Regan

June 23, 2015
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Letter to Dianne Vertes from Sue Moreno

February 20, 2016
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Report by Cyril Wecht

November 16, 2016
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John Flynn Open Payroll Report

2017
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Letter from Michael Siragusa to Sue Moreno

August 26, 2019
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Anonymous Packet Sent to Sue Moreno

September 20, 2019
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Unsigned Letter to Sue Moreno

September 20, 2019
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Letter from Carol Kaufman

Unknown
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Newspaper Clippings

Various