Ex-Southern IL Priest Convicted of Child Porn Dies in Prison

Ex-Southern IL Priest Convicted of Child Porn Dies in Prison

PINCKNEYVILLE (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.

In a release, Perry County Coroner Paul Searby said 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.