Man confesses to murder in a church

“Justice needed to be done,” said pastor Michael Trazinski, who brought the man to authorities.


What do you do if you’ve just heard the murder confession of a tormented cold-blooded killer who has managed to evade local and federal authorities for years? For pastor Michael Trazinski, the choice was simple: you calmly take him down to the police station.

Pastor Trazinski and a few parishioners were sitting peacefully in their Connecticut church one recent day when a flustered William Leverett barged through the doors with some surprising news. He readily admitted he was responsible for a previously-unsolved 2014 murder. Upon hearing the confession, the pastor promptly escorted Leverett to authorities.

“Justice needed to be done,” Trazinski told ABC News, explaining how he and two others took the “childlike” 27-year-old down to the local police department where he eventually confessed to murdering a mother of two while she was out jogging.

An Act of Evil

Leverett, a registered sex offender, told authorities how he drove down to a running trail on the night of Nov. 20, 2014, looking for “human contact” following a treatment meeting. Already terrified that any woman he met would uncover that he was on probation for sexually assaulting a child back in 2009, he told police he was “embarrassed and scared and figured that if I just killed somebody, it would make all that go away and I wouldn’t have to explain myself.” He spotted Melissa Millan jogging and “went into a frenzy,” stabbing her to death.

The case went cold and was eventually turned over to the FBI a year ago. But the crime continued to haunt him, and Leverett wrote many confession letters to family and friends that were ultimately never sent.

Confession Time

So, what is it that caused Leverett to finally come clean in the house of the Lord? Perhaps the young man assumed he could rid his guilty conscience without legal recourse. Roman Catholic law forbids priests from disclosing information obtained from religious confession – breaking this “sacred seal” can result in excommunication.

Admitted spy Robert Hanssen famously confessed his early espionage to his priest, who kept the secret despite the enormous national security damage. Just this year, however, 31-year-old convicted murderer Jose Morales was freed from prison after Father Joseph Towle testified that another man, Jesus Fornes, had confessed the crime to him many years prior. Prosecutors argued that Father Towle’s conversation with Fornes was privileged, the same way doctor-patient and attorney-client conversations are.

Unfortunately for Leverett, this particular pastor wasn’t so understanding. Whatever his calculations, the killer has now been brought to justice for his crime. Whether he can ever be forgiven is another matter entirely.

 

31 comments

  1. Joe says:

    More collateral damage from the stupid idea that violent criminals should get a second chance.

    1. Someguythatplaystheorgan says:

      There have been cases in the USA where priest have been charged as an acomplis for not turning in confessed murderers so it’s illegal in most states for a priest not to report a criminal because of the civilization civic duties of a citizen

  2. Marcel French says:

    Since there is no such thing as a statute of limitations on murder the right thing to do is to turn him over to law enforcement who knows if he truly has a deep enough sense of remorse he may only be convicted of murder in the second degree or murder in the third degree unless of course there’s absolute evidence to prove that it was premeditated either way you do the crime you do the time I don’t think anyone should get any special treatment in that regard.

  3. Jason Bender says:

    his confession was as impulsive as the murder… I bet he will regret the former even more than the latter.

    Whenever I get away with doin’ some crimes scott free – you can bank on one thing, above all else: I ain’t sayin’ nothin’ !!

    At least not until the statute of limitations are expired, and then some, on the crime as well as any related offenses (eg tax evasion, interstate flight, destruction of evidence, et. cetera.)

  4. Carl Elfstrom says:

    I’m glad the priest was able to convince the man that he should turn himself in, and go with him to the police station, instead of having to decide if he should report the man, and get kicked out of the priesthood because of it. If I was a priest I definitely would wave reported him. I’d keep quit about a nonviolent crime.).), but not murder, or sexual assault. I’d feel too guilty and remorseful letting him get away with it, and knowing he could do it again. Of course, I wouldn’t become a Catholic priest anyway. I’m not attracted to children.

  5. Dr. Daniel Thomas says:

    We confess our sins to each other as commanded.

    James 5:16 ESV
    Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

    Jesus Christ then forgives the penitant heart.

    1 John 1:9 ESV
    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    And The Father is faithful and true and will remember our sins no more.

    Hebrews 10:17 ESV
    then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

    However, that does not exempt us from the obedience and the punishment of civil authority which takes place in this world.

    Romans 13:1-7 ESV
    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. [2] Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. [3] For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, [4] for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. [5] Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. [6] For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. [7] Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

    The man confessed his sin. And has made repentance for salvation of his soul in the next world.

    The Church has the responsibility to turn the man over to social authority to face justice in this world. As it does to prepare His soul for the next world.

    Paul himself stated that he would subjected himself to the death penalty if he was deserving of it. The death penalty was given to us by God Himself. He had many situations for its use. He stated it’s purpose as to rid the evil from among His people. I find it so difficult that so many cherry pick the commands of the Lord that they wish to follow and leave the rest behind on the threshing floor to be stomped and ignored. I understand compassion too. But I understand the difference between thebcompasson of Man and of God. But I also can read the Word myself and see what it is the God wants us to do.

    Look at it this way: You decide who gets to enter into your own home and who does not. Once inside, you are hospitable in your own measure and decide who are your loved ones. No one else has that authority. Heaven is God’s home. He too gets to decide who enters and who are His loved ones. No one else has that authority. We should all be greatful that God shares with us His rules for His House, and that we can actually can do them and keep them.

    1. Ray Turner says:

      Thank you so much for the enlightening message in this post.

      1. Michele says:

        Dr. Thomas,

        That is great analogy. Thank you so much for sharing. I appreciate the positive approach you chose to take.

        Respectfully,
        Michele Goodman

    2. Neal says:

      Excellent approach and great supporting scripture! Thank you.

  6. Iconoclast says:

    He should have killed himself, as should most murderers, but they don’t. They want society to do it.

  7. Rev.Sydney, Eternity Wedding Ceremonies says:

    #1) ~ I don’t think there should be any “statute of limitations” on ANY crimes of violence or violation. I don’t think that TIME diminishes the (nature of) the offense, and should not be an eventual “safe exit” sign for perpetrators.
    #2) ~ Why has no one mentioned the fact that this man seems to have some variation of certifiable mental illness/aberration? This does not excuse him or his choices, but should, I believe, have some determining effect on his sentencing outcome.

  8. Mike W says:

    A couple of details to clarify this story.

    It was not a Roman Catholic church. The pastor (not a priest) is married.

    The man confessed to the murders in front of a group of people, not to a priest within the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Therefore there is no sacred seal to be broken (even if it had been a RC church and a RC Priest).

    Perhaps the murderer is RC and thought the rules applied to all religious ministers – but that’s his mistake.

    Even in the case of an RC priest (the Hanssen example), absolution is given when a penitent is truly sorry and in a heinous situation like murder or espionage, it is unlikely that the priest would absolve the person of the sin without encouraging them, as part of their penance, to confess it to the proper authorities.

    The idea that you can just go “inside the box” and confess and all is forgiven immediately is inaccurate. There are limits. For example: a woman who had an abortion could only receive absolution from a bishop until Pope Francis recently allowed parish priests to give absolution in 2016.

    Here’s the news report: https://abcnews.go.com/US/man-charged-cold-case-murder-jogger-melissa-millan/story?id=58048718

  9. Pastor Carolyn Brusetti says:

    WE all have responsable to obaye the law and need to be a countable for our akion with STilling or morde justic need to be severe Pray report call cops are all part of be a countable to god and one and otherhe did the crime he needs to do the right thig the Person Idon’t know my be asking for forgiveness and will to sever the time to be for give maybe I am wrong just thing
    Pasor Carolyn Brusetti

    1. Neal says:

      Please allow someone to help you write the next comment.

      1. Lori says:

        Amen! Neal.

        1. Jason Bender says:

          That is Home Schoow Edjumacation at its most verry bestest!

  10. paulhoyt says:

    The conversation was not privileged. A privileged conversation is defined by the law as any confidential communication given to a minister acting in his or her professional capacity as a spiritual advisor. When he confessed in front of the group, his admission was neither confidential nor in the context of spiritual advice.

  11. peter.Mwana-bute says:

    How many time our lord and savior says about to forgive? if we want to be like him we need to forgive; to my mind he need one more chance because he can change his life..Paul he used to be a killer ,to the end of his life he became the man of gospel.

  12. oldbill says:

    A confession is hearsay. It should not be a legal basis to overturn a legal conviction.

  13. Teresa Lewis says:

    Tann Clay Clearly this man had been tormented by his own conscience and guilt as sought absolution. The unmailed confessions not being followed through shows that he wanted accountability for his sins. When he reached out to the church, it was not oly for confession but forcforgiveness. Let me take it a step further, he desired salvation. I pray that within this time believers led him to Christ because only Christ can forgive sins. Amen!

    1. Lionheart says:

      Oh stop it! You are so gullible!

  14. David says:

    I think the respondents on here are completely missing the point. This man was in a mental health crisis. He had been in a chronic state of mental health crisis for years, and any treatment he may have had was a complete failure. He was, and still is, very sick. We need to change our attitude toward this type of illness, and stop punishing people for being sick. Jail is not going to be helpful in any way. Restitution and reconciliation should be the goal in cases such as this. Vengeance, however righteous, is not justice.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      Prisons keep criminals away from the rest of us. That’s good enough for me. I’m not God, so I don’t have to forgive anyone. I don’t care if they try to rehabilitate that but, or if they feed him nothing but molded bread and contaminated water. As long as they keep that fool out of society I’ll be happy.

  15. David says:

    The “seal of the confessional” is nothing more than a criminal conspiracy. Criminals always have to tell someone. The priest grants absolution, legitimacy, and secrecy in return for favors to himself and his church. This is also how priests have been enabled to sexually exploit thousands of children worldwide for centuries. It has made the Roman Catholic Church one of the wealthiest establishments in the world. It should be illegal. People in positions of authority have a responsibility to society, a responsibility to report crime.

  16. Carl Elfstrom says:

    I minister to people of all religions, spiritual paths, and even atheists, but self-righteous, egotististical anti-gods who seek to repudiate the things we’re trying to accomplish are bad for this blog, and I for one always seek to run them off.

  17. Monrovia says:

    Whenever, presented with tale of someone who has been exposed for an unacceptable or / and a dispicable act: My resolve is Saved by the Grace of God go I.
    It could have just as well been me as anyone else. Within a split second of a moments time, I too could have lost it just as any who condemn. Mental illness is a tag imputed upon those who perpetuate a transgression that sane people are incapable of. Do than, is it to be presumed that the millions who have not yet been diagnosed are more sane? And when people who have never before demonstrated having a problem become overwhelmed with the self righteous and the bigots, and the right winged professionals who’s knowledge of what is best for all, fall short; who do we blame then, God?
    Bender, keep trying..,.

    1. JASON D BENDER says:

      biddi biddi biddi, what’s up, Buck?

  18. Harold Monge says:

    Good desition on this young one he repented and now his case will be in he Judge of judges the only one who knows his heart and can heal it,restor it and give him a second chace in life to think on his behavior killing this inocent women.We sing but if we ask for Gods mercy trought Jesus crist this brave boy can be a good servant even in jail because is Gods work troght Holy Gost now on all we can do is forgivehim as if we were in his situation and pray for the family of the lady murdered to forgivehim and be in Gods peace.
    Isaiah 1:18 English Standard Version (ESV)
    18 “Come now, let us reason[a] together, says the Lord:
    though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
    though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.

  19. Lionheart says:

    I think, from your response, I can now see why, and how, you have been indoctrinated into a religion and very possibly anything else you have been attracted to. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that English isn’t your first language. Whatever the issue is that you have, I strongly suggest you educate yourself in logic, and reason, and have a totally open mind as you do so. Good luck! I have a sneaking feeling you just might need it.

    Be well !

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