The community of Henderson in Nevada, located just south of Las Vegas is a small one of only about 300,000 people. It’s a quiet place, which is why, earlier this year they were shocked to rack up their third homicide in a year.
The victim was a 70 year old man, who was supposedly “quiet” and who neighbors believed was merely a retired teacher who occasionally ran tutoring sessions in his home.
According to Fox 5, the Henderson police were conducting a welfare check at the home of John Capparelli, at around 9:30 am on March 9. They found Capparelli’s body in the kitchen. He had been shot in the neck in an apparent robbery.
It was only then that his neighbors realized that their “quiet” neighbor had come to their community to hide allegations of a dark past.
Capparelli was a defrocked priest accused of molesting multiple boys in the guise of “teaching” them to wrestle.
Capparelli had been a Catholic Priest for the period of 1980 to 1992, until multiple allegations of sexual misconduct were brought against him. Several young men alleged that he had groped them and worse. He was suspended from the church in 1992.
Even after he was defrocked, however, Capparelli continued to work with children and young boys as a public school teacher, said a report from NJ.com. He only stopped in 2011 after a report in the Star-Ledger made public, the allegations against him.
An earlier story that the NJ.com ran about John Capparelli’s life in New Jersey also reveals that Capparelli was linked to a fetish website called nhb-battle.com, which he was supposed to be running out of his home in Belleville.
Two of Capparelli’s victims during the years he was a priest have been vocal about their molestation at his hands. They were to testify against Capparelli during his hearing with the New Jersey State Board of Examiners but didn’t get a chance to as the case reached a settlement.
“I am happy that after all this time, he’s finally being held accountable,” said Rich Fitter, who has stated that Capparelli used to touch him inappropriately during “submission wrestling” matches in the 1980s.
“He should not be around children. To me he should be in jail,” said Fitter.
According to Fitter and another of the alleged victims, Andrew Dundorf have shared their experiences with Capparelli both which involve “wrestling”.
Capparelli, who was serving as a priest when both men met and were allegedly abused by him, would invite fit teens to learn how to wrestle. He would provide them with Speedo bathing suits to wear and then photograph them in compromising position. He would also often grapple with the boys to “teach them” but would grope their genitals and buttocks.
Looking for “young, fit” men
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a 25 year old man called Derrick Mitchell Decoste, was named a suspect in John Capparelli’s murder in June. At the time Decoste was being held in a Michigan jail.
Decoste has actually been arrested in Las Vegas back in March 12 for petty theft and trespassing. While the Vegas charges were dismissed, he was transferred to Michigan as he was wanted there for multiple charges including theft, fraud, and even impersonating a police officer.
Decoste was eventually linked to the death of Capparelli when his Las Vegas-based girlfriend handed a 9mm handgun that she claimed belonged to Decoste to investigators. The gun was linked to the bullet that was found to have killed Capparelli.
A bag was also found with several of Capparelli’s personal items. This included a wristwatch with the logo of the Newark Teachers Union. A relative identified the watch as one that Capparelli received for serving as the union’s vice president back in 2008.
According to the Henderson police department, Decoste had met and began exchanging messages with Capparelli after the former had answered an internet ad that the latter had placed looking for male wrestlers.
Text message as well as telephone records show that the two began communicating around February 21 of this year. The last communication between the two was recorded on March 6.
They allege that Decoste had planned to rob Capparelli and that was the motive for the killing.
They also found evidence that, despite the apparently quiet life he led in Henderson, Capparelli had not given up his sexual deviancy nor forgotten about his wrestling fetish.
Inside Capparelli’s home, the police found hand-written logs that pertained to “paid entertainers”. They also found indictions that the ad looking for “young, good looking men” that put Capparelli in contact with Decoste was not the only one that he posted.
Worse, they found hundreds of videos which featured “nearly nude men wrestling”. It’s presumed that it was Capparelli who filmed them.
The “cool adult”
When news of his abusers death came forth, Fitter spoke to several media outlets about what happened to him.
He told Fox 5 that, back in 1982, when he was 15 years old, John Capparelli was the trusted priest assigned at Our Lady of Peace in New Providence, New Jersey.
“He kind of played the role of being that cool adult that you hung out with”, said Fitter.
It was when Fitter and Capparelli started wrestling together that the abuse started.
“That’s when his hands would start to wander,” said Fitter. “That’s when it got really weird.”
Fitter has also stated that Capparelli had them wrestle in Speedos because “in gym shorts or sweatpants somebody could get a finger tangled up and break a finger.” However, Fitter soon began to suspect more twisted motives for Capparelli’s insistence.
In 1984 Fitter found Polaroids that Capparelli took of him and other boys wrestling. The photos focused on their private parts or their faces twisted in pain or exhaustion. Fitter confronted Capparelli, and that led to a “violent physical assault”.
“It’s karma,” Fitter told the Daily Beast about Capparelli’s death. “Caparelli had a 40-year record of being a serial predator and he was constantly empowered by the fact that he could do no wrong. I have no sorrow for what happened to him.”
After Capparelli’s sexual abuse were exposed back in 1980, he was sent to rehab, removed from ministry, and suspended from priestly duties. He was only defrocked two decades afterwards.
The Daily Beast tried to contact the archdiocese of Newark about Capparelli but they declined to comment about either his death or the investigation of his death.