Man who blamed werewolves in slayings granted more freedoms
December 20, 2005
PUEBLO – A man who said werewolves ordered him to stab two priests to death has been granted more and more privileges at the state mental hospital, including unsupervised visits in town, leaving some neighbors unsettled.Douglas Comiskey was accused of the bloody slayings of the Revs. Thomas Scheets, 65, and Louis Stovik, 77, in the rectory of St. Leander’s Church in Pueblo in August 1996.Comiskey, diagnosed as a paranoid-schizophrenic, was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sentenced to one year to life in the state mental hospital, also in Pueblo.Since then, under medication, therapy and frequent tests, he has become a model patient, said Doug Wilson, his longtime public defender. Comiskey was first in maximum security but gradually earned more liberties until now, at age 29, he is allowed unsupervised trips.”It’s kind of scary because of what he did,” Mary Lopez, 67, told The Denver Post. She lives on the same block and sings in the St. Leander’s choir with Comiskey’s mother.When residents complained that Comiskey was seen near St. Leander’s several weeks ago, Pueblo County District Attorney Bill Thiebaut called the hospital superintendent. Thiebaut said he was assured it would not happen again.Comiskey had been committed to the psychiatric ward of a Denver hospital in 1995. A year later, on the day of the killings, he thought werewolves told him he must kill someone or he would be killed, said Gus Sandstrom, the retired district attorney who prosecuted the case.Sandstrom said Comiskey chose the priests at random and had nothing against them – and in fact one had taken his confession at home days earlier.Sandstrom, who has kept up with the case over the years, said he originally opposed granting Comiskey any liberties because of the horrific nature of the slayings. Comiskey didn’t complain, he said, but simply retook group therapy programs.Sandstrom said he now agrees that Comiskey has earned his privileges by his behavior and by taking therapy classes.State hospital officials said they could not discuss Comiskey’s case because of federal privacy laws. Comiskey and family members declined comment.Scheets’ brother, Father Francis Kelly Scheets of Phoenix, said doesn’t believe Comiskey should be incarcerated for life but said officials should be more open with the public about the case.”I’m concerned of course,” Scheets said. “I’d want to monitor him.”Thiebaut said Comiskey and his mother plan to move to Denver, about 100 miles north of Pueblo, in the spring. Sandstrom said they are moving because Comiskey is so recognizable in Pueblo and has family in Denver who can support him.Thiebaut said he will be watching.”I definitely am going to keep close tabs on this case,” he said.