At 8 p.m. on August 8, 1981, two criminals fatally stabbed Father Leonas Mažeika, pastor of Pamūšis, and his housekeeper, Sister Teklė Martinaitytė. After killing the priest, the culprits fled without taking anything. When the police arrived they were in no hurry to apprehend the perpetrators but instead examined drawers and counted money. The pastor died on the way to the hospital; he had been stabbed repeatedly in the stomach. His housekeeper died at the hospital.
The funeral was planned for Wednesday, but was suddenly changed to Tuesday by order of the bishop. The sermons were such that anyone who did not know the facts would have thought that Father Mažeika had not been murdered but had died of natural causes. Some one hundred priests attended the funeral. Following the funeral, a long line of believers stretched from the church to the rectory: people wanting to at least catch a glimpse of the pool of blood in which the priest's life had been extinguished.
On September 3, 1981, in an article entitled "Nusikalteliams pagal jstatymus" (The Law Catches up with Criminals), Gimtasis kraštas (Native land) lamented that foreign radio stations slander the Soviet judicial system when they claim that it does not seek out offenders who attack the clergy.
The article further reported that the killers of Father Leonas Šapoka, pastor of Luokė, have been arrested: Jonas Sabaliauskas, residing in Skuodas Rayon; Adomas Lukšas, residing in Kapsukas; and Danielius Mockevičius, residing in Raseiniai Rayon.
It is briefly mentioned that the killers of Father Mažeika and his housekeeper have been arrested — Adolfas Kazlauskas and [Mrs.] Ona Baltramiejūnienė — and would receive their just reward.
No one in Lithuania believes that the arrested killers acted on their own initiative. Everyone is whispering that it was the KGB's act of revenge.
Both Father Leonas Šapoka and Father Leonas Mažeika had once been entangled in the web of the KGB and had apparently attempted to break loose. Such inferences can be drawn from some of the circumstances surrounding the killing. The murderers acted very boldly, as though aware they had strong backing. They came during the day. They completely ignored an old man they found chopping wood in the yard. If the killers had been interested in money, they could have come any night, since the pastor was often absent. But they watched for several days until the priest returned from a meeting with guests from America.
Even though the reporter Stuina claimed on the September 15, 1981, "Akiratis" (Horizon) television program that criminals are drawn to rectories by the pastor's money, in neither case were the killers interested in money; it remained untouched.
It is quite possible that the most important circumstances surrounding the killings will never be explained, but it is already clear that it is no coincidence that three churches burned down in Lithuania in 1970: Sangrūda, Batakiai, and Gaurė. It is no coincidence that priests with similar backgrounds were killed one after another. It is no coincidence that the Blessed Sacrament is being desecrated in many Lithuanian churches.
Priests who have been collaborating with the KGB place the entire blame on active priests, claiming that their activities have called down this atheistic terrorism against churches and priests. Perhaps this claim has some truth?
Perhaps the purpose of this terrorism is to force the priests collaborating with the KGB to carry out their duties faithfully, to keep the faithful enshrouded in an atmosphere of fear, and to force the active priests to stop waging their fight for the rights of belivers? The only thing clear at present is that the active priests will not be frightened off by such terrorism, whereas the priests who collaborate with the KGB have already begun to attack more vehemently those priests who have not gone "harvesting with the devil."
Between June 22 and July 6, 1981, a group of ten offenders were brought to trial in Kaunas and Panemunė for robbing and assaulting Fathers Vytautas Užkuraitis and Antanas Bitvinskas. A woman who happened to be standing near the Griškabūdis churchyard at the time of the robbery remembered the license number of a suspicious-looking automobile and helped apprehend the criminals.
The robbers were put on trial but the terrorism continues to rage.
At 9 p.m. on October 29,1980, Father Antanas Jurgaitis, pastor of the Ylakiai church (Skuodas Rayon), was summoned to see a patient. When he went to the church to get the Blessed Sacrament, he found the church doors unlocked. Near the church threshold his way was barred by three men.
"How did you get here and who unlocked the door for you?" the pastor exclaimed in surprise.
"We're guests, and no one questions guests. Tell us where Father Klemensas Arlauskas (a retired priest living in Ylakiai) hides the issues of the Chronicle!"
"I've never seen any issues of the Chronicle in Father Arlauskas's possession," replied Father Jurgaitis.
"We're looking for them, but can't find them. Don't tell anyone you met us here. Otherwise things will go badly for you because we're from a large organization."
On November 7 the same people appeared again and asked that a large sum of money be put in a designated place.
On February 2, 1981, three men attacked Father Antanas Jurgaitis near the rectory and told him: "A woman will come and say a password; give her the money. Don't try to tell anyone of our meeting, because otherwise you'll be pinned to this pole (covered wayside shrine)."
Can anyone distinguish the ordinary criminals from possible hired killers in this jumble of crimes?
Regardless, priests must endure, and they shall!