A Widow’s Hunt for the Priest Who Preyed on Her Husband

Peter Fatovich seemed a happily married father of four when he took his own life in 1994. His wife would search for decades to uncover the tragic truth behind his death.

On the morning of Tuesday, June 14, 1994, my husband, the father of our four children under the age of 5, kissed me goodbye. I sensed heightened anxiety as we stood at the top of the stairs in our Vermont home. He leaned toward me, our lips meeting one last time above the 2-month-old nestled in the folds of my white cotton nightgown, buttons between milky breasts left undone.

“I have an early morning meeting,” Peter said.

I watched from our picture window, swaying to calm both myself and the baby in my arms, as his black Subaru disappeared down the steep Bolton Valley Access Road.

It had been a rainy spring in our Green Mountains. Through June, the rivers still rushed madly with melt run-off. Peter knew this when he pulled alongside the guardrail of Richmond’s infamous Huntington Gorge.

Instead of driving to Burlington for that meeting, Peter met his death by suicide in the foaming, churning waters funneling through steep rock formations. The current so strong and water running so high, the search team of police investigators took three days to find his lifeless body resting in one of the lower potholes. That image and phrase in the Burlington Free Press of “grim-faced state police divers” standing waist-deep encircling my husband’s drowned body remains carved into memory.

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