Prosecutor: Priest called cops before stabbing, but none came

| October 26, 2009

They emerged from St. Patrick's Church in Chatham, Morris County, into the bright sunlight of a Sunday morning, red-eyed, holding hands and shoulders, a parish in shock and mourning following the numbing events of Friday and Saturday: the murder of their beloved priest and the arrest of a well-liked church janitor, charged with the crime.

And as their case developed Sunday, officials said the Rev. Edward Hinds, 61, called police for help just before being killed — but no police came. After Hinds' initial call disconnected, a dispatcher called back, and was eventually told by Hinds' alleged killer that there was no emergency, officials said.

The church in this affluent, quiet town learned Friday of the murder of Hinds, who led the parish since 2003, and the arrest Saturday of church janitor Jose Feliciano, who worked at the church for 17 years and who is being held on $1 million bail, charged with Hinds' murder.

Police said Feliciano stabbed Hinds 32 times with a kitchen knife Thursday following a heated argument. Hinds sustained stab wounds and cuts to his upper torso, the back of his head and hands, and had bruises on his face.

Feliciano was arrested Saturday at his Easton, Pa. home, authorities said. Police had tracked Hinds' cell phone to that area and recovered it, the knife allegedly used in the slaying, and a bloody T-shirt and rags in a garbage bag in a park near Feliciano's home.

Feliciano lived near the church until four years ago, before he moved his family to Easton, about 45 miles from Chatham.

Authorities said Feliciano, whose two childern attended St. Patrick's school, which has grades pre-K to eight, admitted killing Hinds. Feliciano's son graduated from the school and his daughter still attends classes there.

On Sunday, Morris County Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi said that Hinds apparently placed an emergency cell phone all to police moments before he was killed.

The call, requesting police services, was received by a New Jersey State Police dispatcher at 5:27 p.m. Thursday, Bianchi said. Police said Hinds was killed early Thursday evening, but have not stated a specific time.

Tags: , ,

Category: Church Security

Comments are closed.