The suspect in the robbery and fatal shooting of a Hammond priest has confessed to the slaying and agreed to extradition, authorities said Wednesday.
John Manieri, 31, confessed to the Sunday night shooting of the Rev. Edward E. Everitt at a beach house in Waveland, Miss., a spokeswoman for the Polk County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday afternoon.
Manieri, who had taken his former wife and their two children to Florida in the priest’s vehicle, already had their three-day passes to Disney World when the sheriff’s SWAT team stormed their motel room Tuesday morning, said Donna Wood, a Sheriff’s Office public information officer.
Manieri had stepped out to smoke a cigarette when he saw the SWAT team, and he rushed back into the room with the team barging in after him, she said.
Manieri’s former wife and their children had no money, and detectives had to buy them lunch, Wood said.
Manieri’s 5-year-old daughter and 10-year-old stepson “thought they were going to Disney World,” she said. “It was pretty sad.”
The woman’s father has since picked them up and taken them home, Wood said.
Manieri, who had been befriended by the priests who owned the beach house, was a “person of interest” in the case even before authorities tracked the priest’s car to the hotel near Disney World, Jon Kalahar, spokesman for the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, said Wednesday.
The priests who owned the beach house had felt sorry for Manieri and hired him to do odd jobs, Kalahar said.
Results of Everitt’s autopsy showed he had been shot twice in the head, Kalahar said.
The death occurred after 10 p.m. Sunday, he said.
Tests on the gun, which was found when Manieri was arrested, have not been competed to determine if it fired the bullets that killed the priest, Kalahar said.
Manieri appeared in court Wednesday and waived his rights to fight extradition to Mississippi, Wood said in a telephone interview.
He was represented by a public defender in 10th Judicial Circuit Court in Bartow, Fla., the seat of Polk Country, she said.
Manieri was being held in jail in Polk County on Wednesday afternoon without bail until he can be picked up by authorities from Waveland, Wood said.
Wood declined to give details of Manieri’s confession, saying that material is being turned over to authorities from Waveland.
Everitt had gone to the beach house after Mass on Sunday, and a caretaker of the beach house discovered Everitt’s body late Monday, authorities said.
Everitt, 71, sometimes went on Sunday afternoons to the beach house, which is owned by members of the Dominican community in Hammond, said the Rev. Dave Caron of the Dominican Order to which Everitt belonged.
Everitt had been pastor of Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Hammond and Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Tickfaw since 2006. Earlier in his ministry, Everitt served at Southeastern Louisiana University, Caron said.
Caron said Everitt, who is from the Houston area, had become a Dominican on Aug. 31, 1962, and was ordained on May 25, 1968.
Fairly early in his ministry, Everitt served at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, said Mary Beth Chevalier of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge.
He was at SLU from 1973 to 1979 and then served in Texas, Georgia and Tennessee before returning to Hammond.
A wake for Everitt will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at Holy Ghost Church in Hammond.
The funeral is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Holy Ghost Church.
Everitt’s cremated remains will be placed at a later time in the Dominican Friars’ Cemetery at Rosaryville in Tangipahoa Parish, Caron said.