Fake Priest Still Sought In Kilgore Thefts - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/16/07-Longview

Fake Priest Still Sought In Kilgore Thefts

East Texas hospitals and law enforcement agencies are on alert for a man passing himself off as a priest to gain access to hospital patients, and what's in their wallets and purses. A store surveillance video from last week shows an impostor dressed as a priest shopping at a Kilgore pharmacy. An imposter that police believe has made a living by preying on hospital patients.

"He's definitely put all this together.  It's definitely taken a little time to come up with a collar and posing as a priest.  I'm sure its something he's done before, and probably at other hospitals," said Kilgore police investigator Roman Roberson.

Last Monday he checked in at Kilgore's Laird Hospital under a false name. Witnesses told police he had a distinct northern accent, and spoke and prayed with patients, and more.

"The problem was while he was in the room visiting with patients he was stealing from them, wallets credit cards," Roberson said.

Security is the root of the problem. Hospitals regularly see clergymen who come to visit patients.  They simply fill out a questionnaire and get a hospital ID card.

"All of those are screened with background checks,  interviews, personal references and they have a Good Shepherd name badge" said Good Shepherd Medical Center vice president Ruby Brewer.

So nothing seemed out of the ordinary. But the fake father robbed a 78 year old patient, disappeared from the hospital,  and was later caught on camera using that patients credit card to buy 800-dollars worth of gift certificates at a local pharmacy.

"It just breaks my heart as a minister.  You built trust with people and that trust has been attacked and that's a shame" said Good Shepherd chaplain David Farmer.

Officials tell us a crime stoppers tip has come in and may shed light on who the fake father is, but they did not share any details with us today.

"How low can you get?  I mean, really!  You've got someone posing as a priest praying on people that are sick, elderly, and in the hospital and stealing from them," Roberson said.

The suspect in the case is described as a big man, 6'2", weighing about 270 pounds, with shaggy brown hair.

Laird hospital has notified every hospital and law enforcement agency in our area of the theft. Anyone with information in this case is asked to call Kilgore police.

Bob Hallmark bhallmark@kltv.com .

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