Residents of the New Jersey town where a priest was found dead in the kitchen of his church’s rectory Friday morning should exercise caution, Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi said.
Due to the nature of the wounds, the death of the Rev. Ed Hinds, 61, of St. Patrick’s Church “in all likelihood was in fact a homicide,” Bianchi told reporters at a news conference Friday afternoon. He said investigators believe Hinds was killed sometime between 11 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. Friday, when his death was discovered after he failed to show up for morning Mass. He was fully dressed in a black clerical robe when police arrived on the scene, Bianchi said. Chatham Borough police were interviewing witnesses and had 50 to 100 police and detectives investigating the case, according to Bianchi. Though he urged residents to go about their daily lives, he warned they “should be extra vigilant during these next couple of days.”
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Parents of children at the church Friday morning were called to come pick up their kids, though they were not believed to be in any immediate danger, Bianchi said. The death was baffling, a church official said. “It makes absolutely no sense. He was a very well-loved pastor and very well respected,” said Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of the Paterson Diocese. “We are praying for the happy repose of his soul,” he said. Police had no suspects, Bianchi had said at an earlier news conference. Chatham Borough, a community of just over 10,000 people, lies approximately 25 miles west of New York.