88°F
weather icon Clear

Murder suspect met defrocked priest via Craigslist, report says

Updated June 5, 2019 - 9:46 pm

The suspect in the deadly shooting of a defrocked New Jersey priest accused of sexual abuse had responded to a Craigslist post seeking young men to wrestle, according to Henderson police documents.

Derrick Decoste, 25, was “eager to make money” and responded to the advertisement, his girlfriend told police, according to Decoste’s arrest warrant. It was after his second visit to the Henderson home of John Capparelli, the former priest, that he mentioned robbing the 70-year-old man, she told investigators.

“(The girlfriend) later stated that when Decoste went to the victim’s residence to rob him, he would later claim to her that he instead ‘chickened out,’” although he added that he stole wrestling underwear and some wristwatches from the man, according to the documents. She also gave police a bag containing Decoste’s 9 mm handgun and several wristwatches.

A face on one of the watches bore the logo “Newark Teachers Union — Local 481,” which Capparelli’s brother confirmed Capparelli received upon becoming vice president of the union in 2008, the warrant said.

Police penned a warrant on April 4 for Decoste’s arrest on charges of murder and robbery, each with a deadly weapon.

Decoste is jailed in Oakland County, Michigan, on unrelated charges, Henderson police spokeswoman Katrina Rothmeyer said. He is awaiting extradition to Henderson.

Police found Capparelli dead of a gunshot wound March 9 in his home on the 1400 block of Bonner Springs Drive, near Eastern Avenue and Reunion Drive. Capparelli was named February in a list of clergy who “have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors” in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey.

He worked as a Catholic priest and later a teacher in Newark before he was defrocked and lost his teaching certificates in 1992 after dozens of sexual abuse allegations were leveled against him dating to the 1970s and 1980s, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger newspaper.

Among the previous accusations was that he had created and maintained a “fetish” wrestling website featuring pictures of young athletic men wrestling in tight swimsuits, one of his accusers, 52-year-old Rich Fitter, said in March.

While probing his killing, Henderson investigators found hundreds of homemade DVDs featuring “nearly-nude men wrestling inside of the home, presumably while the victim filmed them” and handwritten logs suggesting he “often kept the company of prostitutes or paid entertainers,” the warrant said.

They discovered a printed Craigslist ad that Capparelli had placed seeking “young and good looking men” who would be willing to wrestle and or compete in “submission matches,” the warrant said.

Neighbors had seen Capparelli alive on March 6. Phone records showed Capparelli exchanged several calls and texts with a cellphone number associated with Decoste from Feb. 21 to that day, the warrant said.

Henderson detectives interviewed Decoste on March 26 in the Clark County Detention Center, where he was being held on an unrelated warrant. They accused him of lying multiple times during their interview, including whether he knew Capparelli, visited his home or owned a gun.

“Throughout the interview, Decoste clearly intended to deceive investigators to include providing misleading information,” the warrant said.

Decoste conceded that he responded to a Craigslist ad for a “gig” to have photos taken, adding that he left after briefly speaking with Capparelli outside his house, the warrant said.

“He claimed when he arrived, the victim exited his home with another subject. According to Decoste, when the victim explained he wished to take photos of Decoste and the suspect hugging each other, Decoste declined and then drove away,” the warrant said.

Police continued to question him about the “inconsistencies” in his answers, and he asked for an attorney.

Forensics testing corroborated that Decoste’s 9 mm handgun “was in fact the murder weapon,” the warrant said.

Neighbors and a friend told investigators that Capparelli typically gambled at his favorite casinos, met friends for meals and tutored out of his home.

Property records indicate that Capparelli bought the Henderson home in 2016 and sold one in New Jersey about that same time.

Capparelli denied the dozens of allegations against him.

His death marked the third homicide investigated by Henderson police and the 20th investigated in Clark County this year, according to records maintained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Contact Mike Shoro at mshoro@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Crime Videos
Steve Meriwether talks about his son, who was killed by a drunk driver
Retired Metro sergeant Steve Meriwether talks about his son, Garrett Meriwether, who was killed by a drunk driver. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas Metro Police holds press conference about Oct. 1 report
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo held a press conference on Wednesday, July 10, regarding a new report about the police department's performance during Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 1, 2017. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Surveillance footage of persons of interest in deadly shooting
Las Vegas police have released surveillance footage of two persons of interest in a fatal shooting at Desert Shores Villas. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Bail for Cierre Wood set at $500,000 for murder charge
Bail was set at half a million dollars for Cierre Wood, the ex-pro football player who faces a charge of first-degree murder with his girlfriend Amy Taylor in the death of 5-year-old La’Rayah Patra Nicole Lamont Davis. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Man takes plea deal from murder to battery with deadly weapon
On Tuesday, July 9, Christopher J. Weygant II, originally charged with murder in the death of Bailey Beck, pleaded no contest to battery with a deadly weapon. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Man convicted of 1998 homicides at Las Vegas assisted living home
A judge found Gustavo Ramos-Martinez guilty of two counts of first-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon and one count of sexual assault with use of a deadly weapon.
Henderson youth accused in killing of 19-year-old girlfriend arraigned
18-year-old Noah Hadley, accused of shooting his girlfriend after a house party, appeared in Henderson Court Tuesday morning for arraignment.
Security guard charged with murder appears in court
Security guard Brian William Love appears in court at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 2, 2019, on a charge of open murder with a deadly weapon in the shooting death of homeless man Max Garcia. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Preliminary hearing held for woman charged with sex trafficking of 11-year-old girl
Witnesses took the stand during a preliminary hearing held Thursday for Gigi Mitchell, the woman accused of trafficking an 11-year-old on the Las Vegas Strip.
Wayne Newton testifies during burglary trial
Wayne Newton takes the stand during the trial of Weslie Martin, one of two men who allegedly broke into and burglarized the Newton family residence.
Woman suspected of pushing man off Las Vegas bus stays on house arrest - VIDEO
Cadesha Bishop, accused of pushing a 74-year-old man off a Las Vegas bus to his death, will remain on house arrest until her trial in April 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trial begins for man with wire left in his body after medical procedure
Opening statements began today in a trial where a man says a physician left a wire in his body during a heart procedure in 2005. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police warn of fuel thieves
Las Vegas police and fire officials are warning the public of the danger of fuel thieves using modified vehicles to transport and dispense gasoline. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Surveillance video captures details of man pushed off bus
RTC surveillance video captures multiple views and audio of Cadesha Bishop shoving 74-year-old Serge Fournier off a Las Vegas bus.
LVMPD Investigates 9th Officer Involved Shooting of 2019 -- Armed Robbery Suspects in Summerlin
LVMPD Captain Yasenia Yatomi gives preliminary details about an officer involved shooting that occurred in the 1200 block of N. Town Center Dr.(Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Las Vegas woman accused of pushing man off bus pleads not guilty
A woman caught on video shoving a 74-year-old man off of a Las Vegas bus pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder and other charges related to his death. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspect faces 15 counts in shooting at Las Vegas Strip mall - VIDEO
Hasean Quinn, the man who faces multiple counts including assault with a deadly weapon after a gunshot was fired inside the Fashion Show mall on the Las Vegas Strip on Memorial Day, appeared in court Wednesday afternoon. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A man whose wives were found dead 8 years apart under similar circumstances is denied bail - VIDEO
Alan Sylwester, the man suspected of killing his wife, was denied bail again Wednesday morning during his preliminary hearing in Henderson.
Chief deputy district attorney: “Justice was done” in child pornography case - VIDEO
Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney James Sweetin speaks with the media after the sentencing of Christopher Sena, the man who was found guilty in February of multiple counts of sexual assault with a minor, incest, use of a minor in the production of pornography, lewdness with a child younger than 14 and child abuse. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas man gets 54 life sentences for sexually assaulting children - VIDEO
Christopher Sena, who was found guilty in February of multiple counts of sexual assault with a minor, incest, use of a minor in the production of pornography, lewdness with a child younger than 14 and child abuse, was sentenced to over 337 years behind bars.
CCSD police on the arrest of Deamonte Warren - VIDEO
CCSD police arrested Chaparral High School custodian Deamonte Warren on Friday on three counts of a school employee having sex with a student and an additional count of providing alcohol to a minor. (Courtesy CCSD Police)
Woman charged with sex trafficking an 11-year-old girl on the Strip
Gigi Mitchell faces seven felony charges including sex trafficking and child abuse for bringing an 11-year-old girl to the Las Vegas Strip to work as a prostitute. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bel Air Drive Officer Involved Shooting Presser - Video
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly goes over the officer-involved shooting on Bel Air Drive.
Former Las Vegas police officer get 25 life sentences for sexually abusing child
Former Las Vegas Police officer Bret Theil was sentences to 25 consecutive life sentences at the Regional Justice Center Wednesday, May 15, 2019, for sexually abusing a child over a decade. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Man pushed off bus in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Las Vegas police arrested 25-year-old Cadesha Bishop on May 6, after she allegedly pushed Serge Fournier, 74, off of a parked bus near Fremont Street and 13th Street about 4:50 p.m. March 21.(Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
$1 million bail set for mother charged with drowning 2-year-old daughter
The 44-year-old mother who police say drowned her 2-year-old daughter in a bathtub in a northeast Las Vegas apartment on Saturday made her first court appearance on Tuesday, May 14th.
Officer arrested on suspicion of lewdness with a child appears in court
Matthew James Terry, a Las Vegas police officer arrested on suspicion of lewdness with a child, appears in court Monday morning, May 13, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police seek hit-and-run driver
A motorcycle officer pulled over a Mercedes SUV, and after the officer came to a stop, it shifted into reverse, intentionally hitting the officer.
Thedrick Andres becomes Henderson Police Department acting chief
Henderson Police Department Acting Chief Thedrick Andres speaks about his goals in his new position at the Henderson Police headquarters, Monday, April 29, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2 dead, 1 wounded after east valley neighborhood shooting
One man and one woman are dead and another man wounded after a shooting Thursday afternoon in an east valley neighborhood.
Bail denied for former police detective charged with murder
Bail was denied Tuesday for former Metropolitan Police Department detective, Pamela Rene Bordeaux who is accused of fatally shooting her daughter’s ex-husband during supervised visitation with his child.
THE LATEST