Updated at 12:50 a.m. June 6
WESTFIELD, NJ — Detectives in Henderson, Nevada, have identified a 25-year-old man wanted in the murder of a priest who once worked at a church in Westfield then was later “credibly accused” of sex abuse.
Authorities issued a warrant for the arrest of Derrick Mitchell Decoste in connection with the murder of John Capparelli, 70, Henderson police said. Authorities had found Capparelli shot dead at his Nevada home on March 9. Detectives issued the arrest warrant for Decoste on the charges of murder with a deadly weapon and robbery with a deadly weapon, Officer Rod Peña, a spokesperson for the Henderson police said in an email.
“Decoste is current in custody in Oakland County, Michigan jail for unrelated charges, pending extradition for our charges,” Peña told TAPinto Westfield.
Inmate records from the jail in Michigan show officers arrested Decoste March 27 on retail fraud theft charges.
The Associated Press reported that text message and telephone records obtained by police show Capparelli began communicating with Decoste around Feb. 21 and that the calls stopped March 6.
The AP report, which cites court records filed in the case, states that police found hand-written logs involving “paid entertainers” and indications that Capparelli had posted internet ads seeking young, good-looking men.
Capparelli, who served at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Westfield, had been named in lists of 188 New Jersey priests “credibly accused” of sex abuse. The list from the Roman Catholic Church included seven priests who had through the years worked at two churches in Westfield.
Ordained in 1980, Capparelli also served at 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 throughout his career, according to the Archdiocese of Newark.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh