Ex-priest from NJ defrocked for sex abuse killed in his Nevada home

Posted: Updated:
LAS VEGAS -

A defrocked Roman Catholic priest named as one of more than 180 New Jersey priests facing credible accusations of sexual abuse was fatally shot in a new home in a suburb of Las Vegas, authorities said Tuesday.

John Capparelli, 70, was found dead Saturday morning in his kitchen in the city of Henderson with a gunshot wound to his neck, said Nicole Charlton of the Clark County Coroner's Office.

Capparelli died amid "suspicious circumstances," but police Officer Katrina Rothmeyer declined to comment on whether police have a suspect or whether someone broke into the ex-priest's home.

Rich Fitter of Sparta says that he was sexually abused by Capparelli when he was 16 years old. He says that he was stunned to hear the news.

RELATED: Catholic Church names nearly 200 New Jersey clergy accused of sexual abuse 
MORE: List of names of New Jersey priests accused of sexual abuse 

“I would say karma was at work,” Fitter says.” It’s fitting that his passing was under the suspicion that it was.”

Capparelli was removed from the ministry by the Newark Archdiocese in 1992, but he went on to teach in Newark’s public schools before an investigation resulted in him giving up his educator’s license in 2011.

RELATED: Victims of sex abuse testify before lawmakers on statute of limitation bill 

Neighbors in Nevada say that the former priest was tutoring college-age students in his home.

Fitter says that the abuse he took from Capparelli still haunts him.

“I do still carry a lot of the damage he left me with,” Fitter says.

Capparelli bought the Las Vegas home in August 2016 for $319,000, according to county property records.

Joann D'Angelo, a neighbor of Capparelli's who lives two doors down, said he lived alone and occasionally waved hello. But his past was not well-known in the retiree community, she said.

"He was a very quiet man," D'Angelo said. "He minded his own business."

D'Angelo said police told her they believed Capparelli was killed sometime Wednesday because he failed to show up for dinner plans with a friend that night.

She said the friend came by on Saturday morning to check on Capparelli and called the police, who broke in and found his body.

D'Angelo said she was home all day Wednesday and told police she never heard a gunshot.

Police have ruled the death a homicide.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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