Update: 11:28am, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016
About 100 miles southwest of Bethel, Father Theodore Kestler was believed to have been killed by a house fire in the community of Chefornak a week ago. In fact, the State Medical Examiner’s Office has determined that Kestler, a priest who presided over a church in Saint Mary’s, died of natural causes before the fire occurred.
Troopers received a report around 9:30am on October 12th, stating that a residence was engulfed in flames and Kestler had died, despite citizens’ efforts to save him. No other injuries have been reported. A Deputy Fire Marshal found that the cause of the fire was candles left burning inside the house. Troopers report no foul play is suspected.
According to Troopers, Kestler’s body was positively identified after he was sent to Anchorage for an autopsy. He was 72 years old.
There will be funeral services for Father Kestler in St. Mary’s this weekend. His remains will be brought to the Church of the Nativity on Friday, October 21; there will be a Mass and funeral service at the St. Mary’s school on Saturday.