- Date of Crime: 2002-09-01
- Location of crime:
- Hometown: Bellevue, WA
- Sex: F
- Age: 53
Maximiliano Cilerio Esparza
- Sex: M
- Arrest Status: convicted
- Nationality: Mexico
- Deportation Violations:
Perpetrator was previously deported prior to this crime.
- Criminal Record: Perpetrator had a history of prior felonies
On September 1, 2002, illegal alien Maximiliano Cilerio Esparza, 32, attacked, beat and sexually assaulted two Immaculate Heart of Mary nuns in Klamath Falls, Oregon, killing one, Sister Helen Chaska, 53, who was strangled to death with her rosary beads.
Both women were doing missionary work when the crimes occurred. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is an Orthodox Catholic order devoted to helping the sick, hungry, and homeless.
Klamath County District Attorney Ed Caleb said Esparza had just left "the only strip joint in Klamath Falls" before he attacked the women.
Esparza was convicted in 1988 of robbery and kidnapping in Los Angeles. He was sentenced to six years in prison, was released in 1992 and was on probation until 1995. By law, this man should have been deported to Mexico after his release.
“According to police, Esparza head-butted one of the nuns, then beat both to the ground with his fists. He then raped both sisters, twisting each woman's rosary beads around her neck to control her during the assault. Sister Helen Chaska died at the scene; today's autopsy results (reported in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) revealed the cause of death to be ligature strangulation, with Sister Chaska's rosary beads found embedded in her neck. After the assault the other nun--who, as a sexual assault victim, remains unnamed--returned to her hotel and instructed the night clerk to call the police, who sped the 52-year-old sister to Klamath Falls' Merle West Medical Center. Before her release, she helped police construct a sketch of the assailant, who was recognized and apprehended within 16 hours.”
Esparza was charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping, assault, sodomy, sexual abuse and possession and delivery of a controlled substance.
On April 8, 2003, Esparza was sentenced to life in prison without parole. The sentence was a deal worked out with the prosecution to avoid a trial with the possibility of the death penalty. Klamath County District Attorney Ed Caleb said that he wanted to avoid forcing the other nun who had been attacked to testify. In addition, Caleb sent a bill to the Mexican consulate for the cost of investigating and prosecuting the case.
Documentation:2SEP02, KOMO TV, Seattle
Arrest Made In Deadly Attack On Two Nuns, by Molly Shen
2SEP02, The Stranger, Seattle
Last Days, by David Schmader
4SEP04, The Daily Utah Chronicle
Man Sexually Assaults, Kills Nun, an AP report
For a detailed and graphic account of the crime, see Why Alien Criminals Are at Large in the U.S., which is a summary of a TIME Magazine article.