The suspect in the prison cell slaying of defrocked priest John Geoghan hates gay men and planned the killing weeks in advance, a prosecutor said Monday. Joseph Druce, a fellow inmate in the maximum
security Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass., even tore apart a book to make a perfect tool for jamming the door of Geoghan's cell, Worcester district attorney John Conte said. Druce "has a long-standing phobia, it appears, toward homosexuals of any kind.... He is filled with long-standing hate," Conte said. Druce is serving a life term for killing a gay man 15 years ago. Geoghan, 68, was killed Saturday in his cell while serving a nine- to 10-year sentence for assault and battery on a 10-year-old boy. He had been in protective custody since being transferred to Souza-Baranowski in April, officials said.
Druce, 37, a reputed member of the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nation, was convicted for the June 1988 murder of George Rollo, 51, a gay bus driver who had picked Druce up while he was hitchhiking. Druce, who then went by his birth name, Darrin E. Smiledge, attacked Rollo, forced him into the trunk of Rollo's car, drove him to a wooded area, and strangled him, according to court documents. A fellow hitchhiker told investigators that Smiledge attacked the bus driver when Rollo made a sexual advance, according to documents. An insanity defense failed, and Smiledge was sentenced to life in prison.
Geoghan was accused of molesting nearly 150 boys over three decades; his case ignited the clergy sex abuse scandal that shook the foundations of the Catholic Church in this country. Conte said that Druce confessed to killing Geoghan. Asked if Druce seemed proud of having committed the crime, Conte replied, "Absolutely. No question about that." He also said authorities would investigate why the safeguards supposedly in place for inmates in protective custody weren't enough to save Geoghan. Druce entered Geoghan's cell undetected some time before the cell block was closed at 11:52 a.m. Saturday, Conte said. He jammed the book into the track of the cell door to prevent guards from opening the door. He had precut the book to fit into the track, Conte said. Druce then tied Geoghan's hands behind his back with a T-shirt and socks, which he had been stretching for some time, Conte said. The guard on duty tried to respond but found the door was jammed. He called for help. By the time a nurse arrived to treat Geoghan, seven or eight minutes had passed, Conte said. "No question, he had been planning [the attack] for well over a month," Conte said of Druce, who he said has been very cooperative with investigators.