WESTFIELD, NJ — A 70-year-old man who served as a priest in the town and was later accused of sex abuse was found shot dead at his home in Nevada, authorities said.
Officers found John Capparelli with a gunshot wound to his neck at his residence in Henderson, Nevada, on Saturday, a spokesperson for the Clark County Coroner-Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed on Tuesday.
“Preliminary investigation indicates the victim died of suspicious circumstances, and the incident is being investigated as a homicide,” the police said. “A suspect has not been identified at this time and police are following up on developed leads.”
Last month, Capparelli was included in lists of 188 past priests, including seven who served at churches in Westfield, whom the Catholic Church identified as those credibly accused of sex abuse. Ordained in 1980, he served at Holy Trinity Church in Westfield, Our Lady of Fatima in North Bergen, Oratory Prep in Summit, St. Theresa in Kenilworth, and as a temporary chaplain at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, according to the Archdiocese of Newark.
The Archdiocese’s announcement last month, which came amid an attorney general’s office investigation into priests’ sex abuse, said Capparelli victimized multiple people and was permanently removed from the ministry. NJ.com reported that although Capparelli was never convicted of a crime, multiple accusers said he made them wrestle in swimwear while he took photos. Capparelli was also linked to a fetish website, which he allegedly ran from his Belleville, NJ home, NJ.com reported.