As Investigators Search For Clues, Friend Wonders Why Anyone Would Do This To Such A 'Real Nice Man'

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)  An 87-year-old priest was in Stony Brook University Hospital on Tuesday after he was violently beaten and robbed in his own home on Long Island.

As police search for clues, friends are looking for answers, CBS2’s Marc Liverman reported Tuesday.

A small, quiet community was transformed into a crime scene on Sunday. Parts of Oak Tree Lane on Shelter Island were closed off for a police investigation after officers found the priest beat up in his home. Whoever attacked him also stole from him before taking off.

“The people who attacked him, on a personal level, they’re evil because who would attack such a … I mean the man is a real nice man,” a friend named “Kirk” said.

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The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island identified the priest as Paul Wancura. Kirk said Wancura is a supply priest where he comes to pray at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Central Islip.

“He’s somebody that you could really talk to. When you have a problem you can go to come and talk to him. You have no issues. He’s real nice,” Kirk said.

Paul Wancura

Paul Wancura (Photo: Shelter Island Reporter)

Kirk said the priest was supposed to show up for Sunday morning worship, but never did. That’s when he knew something was wrong.

“We were here waiting for him and we called him several times and there was no response. So everybody was like what’s going on?” Kirk said.

But he didn’t know what happened until he ran into CBS2’s Liverman on Tuesday morning. Kirk is waiting for answers. He wants to know why anyone would do something like this.

“That’s wrong. It’s not right,” Kirk said.

Police are searching for answers, too. Shelter Island only has about 2,400 residents in the offseason and is only accessible by ferry.

Police still haven’t said what condition that priest is in, but they did say he may have been left injured in his home for hours or even days before he was found, Liverman reported.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.