A CATHOLIC priest has been found dead in his Valencia home bed on Tuesday with police suspecting foul play, citing asphyxiation as a possible cause of death.

Alfonso Lopez Benito, 77, had retired recently from his position as a canon at Valencia Cathedral.

He apparently sent a message to the doorman of the Calle Avellanas building a few days earlier saying he would be away for a week as he had some personal matters to resolve.

ALFONSO LOPEZ BENITO

Ahead of an autopsy, homicide detectives believe he may have been suffocated and since his front door had not been forced, they think that the perpetrator knew the victim.

The state of the priest’s body suggested that he died several days earlier.

The assailant also used the priest’s mobile phone for some days to send text messages to give the impression that he was still alive.

According to neighbours, Lopez Benito received threats from a young man who rang the doorbell of his house because, apparently, he owed him money.

Although that happened two years ago, building residents were concerned since the man behaved aggressively, even with the doorman.

Reports say that the priest was found fully clothed in his bed by a friend of his and the doorman, who then called the Policia Nacional.

The state of his body suggested that he had been dead for several days.

Diocese sources described the victim as a ‘much loved man in the Diocese, jovial and with a great sense of humour, who specialised in recent decades on the work of martyrs of religious persecution’.

An official Valencian Diocese statement said that they regretted ‘the sad death’ and that ‘we are at the disposal of the authorities in case we can clarify anything’.


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