Priest Implicated In Hudson Funeral Home Murders Says Mafia Involved

Records released Wednesday show a priest suspected of killing two funeral home workers three years ago denied involvement during a police interview, then suggested the mafia was involved.

Police investigators initially interviewed the Reverend Ryan Erickson in November, 2004 about the murders of Dan O'Connell and James Ellison, who were fatally shot in Hudson in February 2002. Ellison was from Barron, Wisconsin.

A 58-page transcript released says Erickson denied knowing anything about the shootings, but told officers he heard rumors that O'Connell's father was caught up with the mafia and the mafia "turned" on him. Erickson said he couldn't remember who passed along that rumor.

Erickson was found hanged in December 2004 from a fire escape at St. Mary's Church in Hurley and later determined his death was a suicide.

A judge in Hudson this week found enough evidence to suggest Erickson committed the funeral home murders.