Priest convicted of child porn dies in Illinois prison

 

Gerald Hechenberger – Photo Belleville Police Department

PINCKNEYVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A former southern Illinois priest sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty last year to distributing child pornography and processing methamphetamine has died. Perry County Coroner Paul Searby says Gerald Hechenberger was pronounced dead Friday at Pinckneyville Community Hospital. He was serving his sentence at Pinkneyville Correctional Center. Searby did not give a cause of death. Hechenberger formerly pastored Holy Childhood Catholic Church in Mascoutah. He was arrested at the church in January 2018 after police received a tip about his activities. Investigators seized electronic devices and found drug paraphernalia, methamphetamine and images and videos of child pornography in the priest’s possession.