An 87-year-old retired priest died on Monday due to injuries caused from him being beaten and bound during a robbery committed against him weeks earlier.
Reverend Canon Paul Wancura was found in his home in Shelter Island, New York, by the Rev. Charles McCarron on March 19 — after parishioners from the Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Central Islip became alarmed when Wancura didn’t show up for services.
He was still bound, lying between a bed and a wall and barely conscious when law enforcement arrived.
A church member named “Kirk” told reporters, “We were waiting for him and we called him several times and there was no response. So everybody was like what’s going on?”
Kirk added: “The people who attacked him, on a personal level, they’re evil because who would attack such a…I mean the man is a real nice man. He’s somebody that you could really talk to. When you have a problem you can go to come and talk to him. You have no issues. He’s real nice.”
Police say Wancura was left for hours if not days, tied up before being rescued. The priest was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital where he never left the intensive care unit.
Community members were shocked by the crime, and neighbor Ed Clarin said the incident has changed his family’s routine: “Before, we thought this place was safe. We even leave the door opened, but now we have to make sure it’s closed.”
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron told reporters in March that he believes the robbery was calculated. He said, “Shelter Island is an extremely safe area, that’s one of the reasons that this is so shocking. But again, we don’t believe this is a random attack and we don’t believe it is affecting the safety of other residents of Shelter Island.”
Another friend of Wancura’s, Kevin Lockerbie, said of the murder: “I call it evil personified. And if this person has any conscience at all, he ought to turn himself in.”
Whoever committed the crime against Wancura is unknown, and police are offering a $10,000 reward for any information on the case.