CHATHAM, N.J. – An arrest in the brutal slaying of a Roman Catholic priest has brought little solace to his parishioners in this affluent community, who widely view the suspected role of the longtime church janitor as a second tragedy.
More than 150 people at
St. Patrick’s Church for Sunday’s early Mass prayed for the Rev. Ed Hinds, whose body was discovered in the church rectory Friday, and for Jose Feliciano, who is charged with stabbing the priest 32 times with a kitchen knife.
“This is a tragedy for this community,” the Rev. Owen Moran said after leading Mass. “It’s a tragedy for Father Ed and his family, and it’s a tragedy for the Feliciano family.”
Authorities say the slaying occurred at about 5 p.m. Thursday after an argument between Hinds and Feliciano in the rectory.
Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi said to CNN on Saturday that the two men argued “over Feliciano’s continued employment.”
In a statement issued Sunday afternoon, Bianchi said a man believed to be Hinds dialed 911 from a cell phone and requested police services. The call was cut off, so the 911 operator called the phone number back and it went into voicemail. The 911 operator then called back a second time and Feliciano answered, telling the operator that there was no emergency. No police services were dispatched.
Feliciano’s bail was set at $1 million and he was being treated Sunday at an area hospital, Bianchi said, without providing further details.
Bianchi said investigators found the priest’s cell phone, bloody clothing and bloody towels at Feliciano’s home in Easton, Pa., and in a park across the street.
“It’s just not believable,” said parishioner Dan Langborgh, 47, who lives across the street from the church. “Jose is a very nice guy who has been around for many years. He’s the last person I would have suspected.”