Man charged in priest's death found dead in jail

January 26, 2012 - 12:35 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A man accused of killing a Roman Catholic priest and setting off in the victim's car for a family vacation to Walt Disney World was found dead in his prison cell Thursday in an apparent suicide, corrections officials and his attorney said.

Jeremy Wayne Manieri, 33, was charged with shooting the Rev. Ed Everitt of Hammond, La., in July 2011 at a beach house in Waveland, Miss.

Corrections officials said Manieri was found dead in his cell at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County. Details of his death were not released. Manieri's attorney, Brian Alexander, confirmed the death.

Manieri was a handy man at the house used by a group of priests as a beach retreat. Manieri had claimed he shot Everitt after he passed out from alcohol and marijuana use and found the priest fondling him. But investigators believe robbery was the motive, because Florida authorities said Manieri had the priest's car, gun and wallet when he was arrested.

Authorities said Manieri's former wife and two children were with him when he was arrested at a hotel near Winter Haven, Fla. They had purchased tickets to Walt Disney World but never made it to the resort, investigators said.

Authorities say Manieri gave a detailed confession to investigators in Florida, but stopped cooperating by the time he returned to Mississippi.

Manieri is charged with murder and grand larceny.

Everitt, a 70-year-old native of Houston, was pastor of Holy Ghost Church in Hammond, La., and Our Lady of Pompeii Church in nearby Tickfaw. The Dominicans, a Catholic order that dates to the year 1216, operates the churches and a school in the community about 50 miles northwest of New Orleans.