The fatal stabbing May 27 of an LDS missionary in Dublin has prompted an "amazing" outpouring of sympathy from the community, according to Pres. William B. Martin of the Ireland Dublin Mission.
Gale Stanley Critchfield, 20, who had been in the mission field for 15 months, was attacked near the front door of his apartment as he and his companion were walking home. He died in a hospital the following day of a stab wound to the heart.In a telephone interview May 29, Pres. Martin said an 18-year-old man has been arrested and has appeared in court. The suspect was charged with murder.
The mission president said Elder Critchfield and his companion had attended a fireside. They left the meetinghouse on a bus and got off at a stop near their apartment.
While walking home, they encountered a group of young men who were milling about, Pres. Martin said. They stopped and talked to the young men for a short time because they recognized one from their missionary work.
When they finished the conversation they began walking home again and noticed they were being followed, apparently by someone who was not part of the group, Pres. Martin said.
The missionaries accelerated their pace until they arrived at the apartment. Apparently, Elder Critchfield then turned to look at the assailant. Elder Critchfield's companion at first thought the man had pushed Elder Critchfield, but the man held up a knife, apparently for both missionaries to see, and then fled without having said a word.
Pres. Martin said on May 29 that police had not yet determined a motive for the attack.
"The missionaries are saddened that something like this would happen to one of their associates," President Martin said. "The response that has come to us from non-members of the Church is just amazing.
"The phone calls, the cards, the messages of condolence and sympathy and sorrow that this would happen to one of them - we just can't believe the outpouring from the people of Dublin in response to this tragedy."
He said many people in the community admire and respect the missionaries. Some have sent flowers and some people have called the mission office to say the missionaries are welcome in their home any time, he added.
In West Mountain, Utah, a tiny, agricultural community south of Provo, Elder Critchfield's father, Gale, described his son as a very dedicated missionary.
"How he loved the Irish people, and how grateful he was to be serving there in Ireland," the father told a Deseret News reporter. "He had indicated to us that he didn't know when he would be released because he was going to to ask for an extension of time."
Critchfield, a 1988 graduate of Payson High School loved sports and was active in high school athletics. He had written little to his parents about his future plans, however, chooosing to concentrate on his missionary work instead.