Chatham releases 911 calls in killing of St. Patrick Church priest

| November 4, 2009

CHATHAM — Parishioners at St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church who discovered their priest stabbed on the kitchen floor of the rectory on Oct. 23 reported he had apparently fallen and was was knocked unconscious, according to tapes of two 911 calls borough police released today.

It wasn’t until later that they learned the Rev. Edward Hinds had been slain.

Hinds, 61, was killed Oct. 22, at around 5:30 p.m., when he was stabbed 32 times, allegedly by the church janitor, Jose Feliciano, authorities have said. The next morning, after Hinds failed to show up a for 8 a.m. Mass, concerned parishioners went to the adjoining rectory, where they found the popular priest on the floor.

The first 911 call, which ran 2 minutes, was placed at 8:03 a.m. by a man. A female dispatcher who answered the call asked, "What’s the problem?"

"Our priest has fallen, and, uh, looks like he’s unconscious," the caller said.

A second emergency call, which ran for 38 seconds, was placed by a woman and answered by a male dispatcher who told her another caller already was on the line reporting the same incident.

"What’s the problem over there?" the male dispatcher asked.

"Our pastor fell. Father Ed fell. He’s in the rectory," the female called replied.

Feliciano, 64, of Easton, Pa., was charged Oct. 24 with killing Hinds during what authorities said was a dispute that arose after Feliciano learned he may be fired due to a problem with his background checks.

Feliciano had been arrested in Philadelphia in 1988 on a charge of indecent assault of a minor. However, he never showed up for court and a bench warrant had been out for his arrest ever since, authorities said. For more than two decades, he covered up his past and lived under fictitious names and with false Social Security numbers and birthdates, authorities said.

Feliciano, who is being held on $1 million bail, allegedly feigned surprise at discovering the priest’s body, authorities have said. His half-hearted attempts at CPR on the priest aroused immediate suspicion, they said.

Meanwhile, recordings of a 911 cell phone call placed by Hinds during the dispute with Feliciano asking for police assistance, have not been released.

That cell phone call, placed at 5:27 p.m., was picked up by State Police dispatchers but became disconnected. When the dispatcher called back, the call went to voicemail. When the dispatcher called back a second time, Feliciano answered and told police there was no problem, authorities have said.

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Category: Church Security

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