Henderson, NV – A former Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting young boys was found shot to death at his residence on Saturday.
Police discovered the body of 70-year-old John Capparelli lying in the kitchen area of his Bonner Springs Drive home during a welfare check just after 5 p.m., WDIV reported.
He was killed by a single gunshot wound to the neck, and his death is being investigated as a homicide, police said.
“Preliminary investigation indicates the victim died of suspicious circumstances, and the incident is being investigated as a homicide,” police said in a statement to The Star-Ledger. “A suspect has not been identified at this time and police are following up on developed leads.”
In February, the former New Jersey priest’s name was on a list of 188 deacons and priests who had been “credibly accused” of sexually abusing children within the state, The Star-Ledger reported.
The list was released by New Jersey’s five Catholic Dioceses amid increasing pressure to identify members of clergy who have been accused of such acts.
Capparelli was once a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark, but was suspended in 1992 after he was accused of brutalizing and groping teen boys in the 1980s, The Star-Ledger reported.
Multiple accusers alleged that he forced them to dress in swimwear and wrestle while he took photos of them, but he was never convicted of a crime.
He was also accused of operating a fetish website out of his home.
One of his alleged victims, Rich Fitter, said that he first met Capparelli through a Catholic youth organization where he and his friends went to play sports, KLAS reported.
The priest told them he was a wrestling coach.
“Capparelli had an interest in people that had a certain look or a certain build or certain athleticism that was his type that he would befriend and groom and…ultimately sexually assault,” Fitter explained. “”He would require you to wear speedo-type bathing suits and photograph you.”
Fitter said that Capparelli would take him and his friends out for pizza and out to the movies.
The priest first touched Fitter during “a scary part” of a movie, when he grabbed the boy by the inside of his leg, Fitter explained.
Shortly after that incident, Capparelli sexually assaulted him, he said.
“Sadistic is probably a pretty good word to use,” Fitter said, according to The Mercury News. “There were times he would grab your genitals and squeeze.”
He alleged that Capparelli enjoyed aggressively wrestling with his students.
“He would put a head scissors on you, and your face would be right in front of his crotch,” he explained.
“I always wanted…for him to be held accountable,” Fitter told KLAS. “I know I will never get an apology…”
“I can’t see how karma didn’t catch up to him somehow,” he added.
Fitter said that the world is a better place now that his alleged abuser is dead.
“He’s a serial predator, and he’s a sociopath, and he’s a criminal,” Fitter told KTNV. “I can’t say that I feel sorry for him. I can’t say that I feel any sort of loss.”
“I don’t want to sound cold, but I think the world is a safer place without him,” he added.
Over two dozen allegations of sexual assault were leveled against Capparelli, KLAS reported.
After his suspension from the priesthood, he became a math teacher in the same community.
Nearly 20 years later, The Star-Ledger revealed that the disgraced former priest was working as a public school, and is teaching certificates were soon revoked by the state.
Capparelli, who always maintained that he was innocent, ultimately relocated to Nevada.
His unclaimed body remained at the morgue on Tuesday, an assistant at the Clark Count Coroner’s office told The Star-Ledger.