A man being held in a Michigan jail killed an accused sex-abusing priest who once served as a chaplain at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, at a parish in North Bergen and at three Union County churches, authorities in Nevada said.
Derrick Mitchell Decoste, 25, shot 70-year-old John Capparelli in the neck during a robbery at his home in Henderson, just outside Las Vegas, on March 9, authorities said.
Decoste exchanged messages with Capparelli after answering an online ad for male wrestlers, they said.
Authorities said they recovered the murder weapon – a 9mm handgun – from Decoste’s girlfriend, along with a bag containing a watch and other valuables belonging to Capparelli.
Weeks before the murder, Capparelli was among 188 New Jersey priests “credibly accused” of sex abuse.
Ordained in 1980, Capparelli worked as a temporary chaplain at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood and taught while serving at Our Lady of Fatima Church on Kennedy Boulevard in North Bergen.
Capparelli also served at three Union County parishes: Oratory Preparatory School in Summit, The Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity in Westfield, and the Church of Saint Theresa in Kenilworth.
He was defrocked in 1992, following allegations that he'd groped and brutalized teenage boys over more than a decade. His teaching license was subsequently revoked in a settlement.
Although he was never convicted of a crime, accusers told officials that Capparelli made them wrestle in swimwear while he took photos. He was also linked to a fetish website that he allegedly ran, according to NJ.com .
Capparelli later regained his license and taught in Newark public schools until new allegations were raised eight years ago.
He reportedly moved in 2016 to Henderson, where police said he taught students at his home.
Investigators said they found hundreds of videos of semi-naked men wrestling in Capparelli's home, along with online ads that they said he posted seeking young, good-looking men.
Decoste, who responded to the ad, communicated with Capparelli for nearly two weeks before the murder, authorities said.
Days later, Decoste was arrested in Las Vegas on theft and trespassing charges that were later dismissed when he was extradited to Michigan on charges of theft, fraud and impersonating a law enforcement officer.
Police found Capparelli’s body after being asked to do a welfare check.
SEE: Authorities in Nevada were searching for the killer of an accused sex-abusing priest who once served at a parish in North Bergen and as a chaplain at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood.
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