Church considered firing custodian months before alleged stabbing of Chatham priest, official testifies

| November 8, 2011

CHATHAM BOROUGH — A church custodian accused of murdering a parish priest in Chatham had been kept on the job out of sympathy, although his supervisor wanted to fire him for poor performance, a church official testified today.

The top officials at St. Patrick Church, including the slain Rev. Edward Hinds, didn’t want to fire custodian Jose Feliciano because he was only a few months from retiring, testified Virginia Donellon, church business administrator.

"It was out of concern for his family," she said, noting retirement would bring a pension and Social Security benefits.

Feliciano had a wife and two children living at home and “we were hoping he was going to retire on his own” when he would turn 65 in March 2010, Donellon said.

But Feliciano left the church earlier than planned because on Oct. 22, 2009, he allegedly stabbed the Rev. Edward Hinds 32 times in the rectory of St. Patrick Church.

The prosecution in the murder trial is trying to prove Feliciano killed Hinds after the priest fired him when he learned of his criminal background. The church at the time faced an audit conducted by the Diocese of Paterson to ensure that employees who had contact with children had undergone criminal background checks.

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Category: Church Security

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