Former priest accused of sexual abuse found shot to death
Allegations of sexual abuse trailed John Capparelli, a former priest, for decades, resurfacing in the years after the Archdiocese of Newark removed him from ministry. There were the lawsuits from accusers, and last month his name was included on a list published by the Roman Catholic Church in New Jersey that identified priests who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse.
On Saturday, Capparelli was found fatally shot in his home in Nevada, and the authorities there said that his death was being investigated as a homicide.
The police said that officers found Capparelli’s body in his kitchen after being sent to do a wellness check at his home in Henderson, Nev., a city of 300,000 people just outside Las Vegas, where he has lived for the past few years.
A representative for the Clark County coroner’s office said Tuesday that Capparelli, 70, had a single gunshot wound to the neck and that the medical examiner had ruled his death a homicide.
In a statement, the Henderson Police Department said that investigators have not identified a suspect but were “following up on developed leads” and cited “suspicious circumstances” surrounding his death. Police officials declined to elaborate beyond the statement, and said that the investigation was continuing.
Capparelli had been included with nearly 200 other priests and deacons who were named last month by the Catholic dioceses in New Jersey as having been credibly accused of the sexual abuse of a minor. The disclosures joined a flood of lists released in recent months by Catholic dioceses and religious orders across the country in response to the sex abuse scandal that has engulfed the Church.
The Newark archdiocese said that Capparelli, who was ordained in 1980, served in several parishes and schools before he was removed from ministry and later defrocked. In a statement Tuesday, the archdiocese said that it had “no information concerning Mr. Capparelli’s death or any investigation related to his death.”
The reported allegations against Capparelli took place while he was still in the priesthood, but they continued to emerge in the years after he left the ministry in 1992. The Star-Ledger, the newspaper in Newark, covered him extensively, reporting in 2011 that he had been hired as a math teacher at a public high school in Newark. He later quit teaching and moved to Nevada. For several years, Capparelli operated a porn website featuring young men wrestling, The Star-Ledger reported.