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Man held in Michigan suspected in ex-NJ priest slaying in Nevada

Posted: Updated:
LAS VEGAS -

Authorities say a 25-year-old man being held in a Michigan jail is the suspect in a March killing in Nevada of a defrocked New Jersey priest accused of sexual abuse.

Court documents say Derrick Mitchell Decoste met and exchanged messages with 70-year-old John Capparelli for several weeks after answering an internet ad for young male wrestlers.

Police say Decoste owned the gun used to shoot Capparelli dead in his Henderson home. A police report suggests robbery was the motive for the killing. It says Dacoste's girlfriend turned over to police a bag containing items belonging to Capparelli, including a distinctive Newark Teachers Union wristwatch.

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

Capparelli was named in February among 180 priests listed by five New Jersey dioceses as alleged sex abusers.

New Jersey resident Rich Fitter says that he was sexually assaulted by Caparelli when he was 16 years old after taking part in a wrestling program coached by the priest.

“He had a certain playbook that he followed for 40 years and in the end, everything that led up to his death was attributable to the life that he led,” Fitter says.

Caparelli was removed from ministry in 1992, but went on to teach in Newark's public schools until retiring. He moved to Nevada in 2016.

Fitter says that he feels Caparelli met a just ending. But he says that there won’t be any justice for his alleged victims.

“He’s never going to be brought to court and be found guilty of all that he did. On the other hand, he's no longer a danger,” says Fitter.

Decoste was already in jail in Michigan for unrelated crimes when he was charged with murder and robbery in the Caparelli case.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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