THE Policia Nacional have arrested a South American man, 40, in connection with the murder of a Valencia priest who was found dead on Tuesday.

Alfonso Lopez Benito, 80, was a retired Valencia Cathedral canon and was discovered suffocated in his bed at his city centre home on Calle Avellanas.

LOPEZ BENITO(Valencia Archbishopric image)

A friend went to the apartment block as he had an appointment with him, which surprised the doorman, since retired the canon had recently sent him a message on his mobile phone to tell him that he was going to be away for several days.

The doorman used a master key to access the apartment and discovered the body.

It’s believed the priest died a few days earlier but his mobile phone was used to send WhatsApp messages to give the impression that he was still alive.

Sources told the Levante-EMV newspaper that the victim had a sexual relationship with the 40-year-old assailant, who has also been charged with stealing the phone.

The arrested man- described as ‘vulnerable’- was caught by police tracking the phone, as well as information provided by Lopez Benito’s friends.

Levante-EMV says that the canon emeritus used to meet young people ‘in the street’- most of them involved in valet car parking in the centre of Valencia.

Young men were said to be brought home by Lopez Benito and the Policia Nacional and Policia Local had to go to his apartment on several occasions to mediate in disputes.

In one instance, police intervened just over two years ago in a row involving a Romanian man in his early 20s prompted by the disappearance of the priest’s mobile phone.

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