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Man confesses to priest's 2003 murder in letter to WKYT


Someone mailed a letter to WKYT News claiming responsibility for a decade-old murder of a priest saying the wrong person was convicted.

On December 6, 2003, officials said Joseph Pilger was beaten to death in his Lexington home. Pilger was a former priest who had pleaded guilty to charges of sexually abusing children in the 1960s. Jason Russell later pleaded guilty to the murder, admitting in court he beat Pilger to death with a pick-axe because he says he caught him performing a sexual act while looking at a picture of Russell's six-year-old son. Russell is serving a 30-year sentence at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville.

Wednesday morning, WKYT, along with the Lexington Police and Commonwealth's Attorney's office, received a letter from someone claiming to be Andy Turner, another inmate at the penitentiary. The author claims he was the one who killed Pilger and has been living with the burden of knowing someone else was convicted for the past ten years. He says he was buying drugs from Russell and that Pilger would give him money.

The cover letter says "I can't live with this burden no more. A guy has been in prison for almost ten years for what I done,"

The author claims he bought drugs from Russell with money that Pilger gave him. He says that day in 2003, Pilger refused to give him money. In this excerpt from the letter, the author says, "My initial plan after he told me he was cutting me off was to rob him and Jason, then go back to Louisville. Well, it didn't work out like that,"

He says he went into the garage, grabbed a pick-axe, and beat Pilger to death. The author writes that Russell showed up at the house and discovered what had happened. The letter says, "He knew what I did to Joe, so I had to make sure he wouldn't say anything so I threatened his son, told him if he told on me that I'd hurt his son," It goes on to say, "I have never told anyone about this until now. I've had to live with it for almost 10 years now and I can't let it eat me up inside any longer,"

We talked with Lexington Police and Ray Larson's office. They a confirm they did receive the letter and are reviewing it. Officials at the Kentucky Department of Corrections confirmed there is an inmate named Andy Turner at the Kentucky State Penitentiary, but couldn't confirm he's the person who sent the letter.


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