New Jersey Priest Found Slain in Rectory
CHATHAM, N.J. - A priest was found dead Friday in the rectory of his northern New Jersey parish in what authorities said as a homicide.
Morris County Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi said Father Edward Hinds was found in the rectory of St. Patrick Church in Chatham after a 911 call alerted police that the 61-year-old priest did not arrive at the neighboring church to offer a scheduled 8 a.m. Mass. Hinds was dressed in his robes for Mass when he was found.
Bianchi said Hinds was killed sometime between 11 p.m. Thursday and 8:03 a.m. Friday, when the 911 call was placed.
Bianchi would not describe the nature of the injuries or what type of weapon may have been used.
Several roads around the St. Patrick's campus - which includes the church and a Catholic school - remained closed while authorities investigate Hinds' death.
Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of the Diocese of Paterson called Hinds a "good and great man." Hinds had been pastor of St. Patrick since 2003.
"We are deeply saddened," Serratelli said outside the church.
Known to parishioners as "Father Ed," Hinds was a pastoral assistant at St. Patrick from 1974 to 1978 and had many stops in the Paterson Diocese before was named pastor in 2003.
Following his first term of service at St. Patrick, he served as vice chancellor of the Diocese of Paterson and secretary to Bishop Frank Rodimer from 1978 to 1989. He also was pastor of St. Michael Church in Netcong and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Boonton.
Born in Morristown, Hinds attended Morristown High School and Seton Hall University. He was ordained June 27, 1974.
Serratelli said Hinds appeared to be in good health and was an "active and good pastor" for St. Patrick's.
The approximately 400 students in the St. Patrick school were sent home for the day after parents were notified of the death. The student body gathered in the auditorium to watch a movie while waiting for their parents.
Around noon, as parents waited to pick up their children from the school, investigators asked those waiting if they had any information about a Family Safety Night event held at the school on Thursday.
According to an announcement for the event, Secret Service officers and Chatham police were at the school to offer lessons on Internet safety and other matters. Parents were able to have their children fingerprinted and photographed.
Investigators said the request for information about the event was "standard fact-gathering."
No other schools in the area were affected, authorities said.