Matt C. Abbott
Chicago priest's suspicious suicide
By Matt C. Abbott
October 22, 2009

Yet another bizarre case in the Windy City.

From an Oct. 21 I-Team report by ABC7 investigative reporter Chuck Goudie:

    'A Chicago pastor was found in his Southwest Side home, stabbed more than twenty times and it was ruled a suicide.

    'The I-Team has been looking into this two-week-old case that has stunned those who knew the priest. The death of Fr. Waclaw [S. Jamroz] didn't receive much attention outside his parish near Midway Airport.

    'A press release from the archdiocese reported that he died of 'self-inflicted injuries.' But after the I-Team learned that those injuries included nearly two-dozen knife wounds, we began investigating a mystery in the rectory.

    'Fr. Waclaw hosted religious shows on polish TV and radio. He taped one show three days before he was found dead....

    'The priest's heart was at Our Lady of the Snows parish north of Midway Airport where black bunting signals that something terrible happened. It was Thursday, October 8. Morning mass was set to start at 8:15 followed by a funeral at 9, both events on Waclaw's calendar. But when the normally punctual pastor didn't show up, police were called to the rectory across the street.

    'He was found on a bathroom floor, multiple stab wounds in his stomach and other cuts on his wrists.

    ''There is no question this was a slow, very violent death,' said Steve Patterson, Cook County Sheriff's Department. There was no suicide note. The priests' cash and jewelry were not taken.

    'On Wednesday night, county police were still questioning some people who had dealings with Fr. Waclaw immediately prior to his death and the case remains open. But sources familiar with the investigation say because there was no trail of blood from the messy scene, because the priest was found in a locked bathroom, and because some acquaintances reported his unusual behavior of late. It had to have been a suicide.

    ''It was obvious that he was home alone. It was obvious that there was no struggle. It was obvious that it was a suicide,' said Patterson. A spokesman for the Cook County Medical Examiner told the I-Team they ruled suicide based on a visual examination of the more than 20 stab wounds and that no autopsy was necessary.

    'At the pastor's wake, hundreds of parishioners lined up to pay their respects. The finding of suicide met with disbelief by those who said Fr. Waclaw believed only God could take a life....

    'The pastor had some personal concerns. He was recently accused of civil racketeering in a lawsuit filed by the husband of a parishioner in a messy divorce.

    'According to the suit, Fr. Waclaw raised $577,000 from churchgoers to help the woman pay legal bills. Then the priest testified against an attorney in the case at a state disciplinary hearing-describing 'threats' by the lawyer. Fr. Waclaw said the attorney told him to steal money from the church and when he refused was offered $5,000 cash to forget about it. The lawyer's license was suspended by the state on September 28.

    'Friends say if Fr. Waclaw had problems, he never showed them....

    'Cardinal George officiated the funeral mass last week and a spokesman for the archdiocese says Catholic church [sic] officials have no information that his death was anything but a suicide. The priest's body is being returned to his native Poland for burial.'

Interestingly, Father Waclaw Jamroz' stabbing death — ruled a suicide — is similar to that of Catholic choir director and professor Francis E. Pellegrini, who was murdered in 1984. That case, which I covered most recently in a Feb. 7, 2009 column, remains unsolved.

I highly doubt there's any connection between the two cases, considering the Pellegrini homicide occurred 25 years ago. And, of course, Father Jamroz' death, unlike that of Pellegrini, has been ruled a suicide. Still, it's rather eerie that both men died of multiple stab wounds under mysterious circumstances, don't you think?

Staying on the subject of Chicago...

Diogenes, of, recently (Oct. 16) posted the following intriguing commentary:

    'Today's Chicago Sun-Times features an investigative exposé detailing the contents of a digital 'hiring database' belonging to former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, currently under federal indictment for racketeering, extortion, and fraud. 'The Blagojevich hiring database,' reports the Sun-Times, 'lists 386 political sponsors and 5,700 candidates for jobs or promotions controlled by Blagojevich's administration.' Political opportunism operated in its customary Chicago fashion, with rewards commensurate with the sponsor's clout and with the pressure for payback. Records show that Senator Barack Obama sought sixteen hires and scored five. Heavyweight Alderman Ed Burke sought 90 jobs and landed 30. What the Sun-Times says about Burke's fixes is especially noteworthy:

      'Ald. Edward Burke [is] one of 30 Chicago aldermen the records show sent job requests to Blagojevich's office. Burke is listed as sponsoring Kathleen McChesney, former chief of Chicago's FBI office, for an undisclosed opening in an Illinois Department of Corrections post in January 2005 — a post she ultimately didn't get. In an interview, McChesney said she had no idea why she was on the list and that she never sought a job with the state. Burke didn't respond to a request for comment.

    'The name Kathleen McChesney ring a bell? It should. She was the U.S. bishops' first appointee, in November 2002, as director of their Office of Child and Youth Protection. Alderman Burke's plug occurred just one month before she left the post.

    'Probably just a coincidence.

    'Anne Burke, who served as vice-chair of the USCCB's National Review Board on sexual abuse from 2002, and who became chair in 2003, turns out to be the wife of the same Alderman Burke who was so accommodating to Dr. McChesney.

    'Probably just a coincidence.

    'And how did it come about that McChesney was chosen to direct the OCYP in the first place? A puff-piece in the St Anthony Messenger (2003) says 'she was recruited by a member of the new National Review Board, but gently declines offering further details.'

    'Probably just a coincidence.

    'Now if you've been paying attention, you'll remember that McChesney's successor as executive director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection was Teresa Kettelkamp, who also boasted Illinois public sector connections. She had been a colonel in the Illinois State Police before her appointment.

    'Probably just a coincidence.

    'Kettelkamp was a member of the advisory board of the National Center for Women and Policing — a project of Eleanor Smeal's Feminist Majority Foundation — which made her an especially strange choice to direct an office established and funded by Roman Catholic bishops. The USCCB president himself insisted, somewhat too hastily, that there was no connection between the fiercely pro-abortion FMF and the work of the National Center for Women and Policing. How interesting that Kathleen McChesney, in the May before her appointment to OCYP, was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by — can you guess? — the FMF's National Center for Women and Policing.

    'Probably just a coincidence.

    'Is there reason to think Burke or McChesney or Kettelkamp have been derelict in their duties as set out by the Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children? None that I'm aware of. But, as Phil Lawler has repeatedly pointed out in his writings on The Scandal, that Charter sidelined the clergyman perps, but signally failed to penalize those bishops who'd allowed the perps to abuse children in the first place. In other words: the Chicago girls did their jobs, and the bishops who hired them kept theirs.

    'Hey, probably just a coincidence.'


© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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