Prosecutor: Man confesses to church killings

MONROE, Ga. (AP) - November 25, 2008 Joseph Pallipurath, 27, admitted to Sunday's shooting rampage, which also seriously wounded a third person, hours after he surrendered peacefully at a Georgia motel, Walton County Assistant District Attorney Eric Crawford said.

"He was very emotional and very animated during the course of the interview," Crawford said. "The impression I got was he was waiting to talk to somebody and tell his side of the story."

Pallipurath told authorities he believed church members were blocking his attempts to contact his wife, who had left him three months ago, Crawford said. The prosecutor added that Pallipurath didn't apologize or express remorse for the shootings.

He was arrested late Monday in Monroe, about 40 miles east of Atlanta, after a motel clerk recognized his face from a photograph. During a court appearance Tuesday, he wore a blue jumpsuit and answered only "yes" and "no" when the judge asked him about his charges and extradition process. Pallipurath, who had no attorney, agreed to return to New Jersey.

The Sacramento, Calif., man is charged with shooting and killing his wife, 24-year-old Reshma James, inside the St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church in Clifton, a suburb about 15 miles west of Manhattan. Prosecutors said James had previously taken out a restraining order against Pallipurath.

Also killed was Dennis John Mallosseril, who maintained the church's Web site. Witnesses said he tried to intervene.

James' 47-year-old cousin, Silvy Perincheril, was shot in the head and was hospitalized in critical condition.

Based on Pallipurath's statement to Georgia authorities, police in Clifton found his green Jeep parked in a public lot several blocks from the church, Clifton Detective Capt. Robert Rowan said. Inside the vehicle were a revolver believed to be the one used in the shootings and an automatic handgun with several clips of ammunition, Rowan said.

After learning from Georgia authorities about Pallipurath's comments regarding what he would have done with a higher-powered weapon, Rowan said: "I thought, 'It's lucky that we didn't have a mass murder on our hands."'

The parish priest, the Rev. Thomas Abraham, said church members were thankful for Pallipurath's capture. At the church Tuesday, workers replaced bloodstained carpet where the shootings occurred.

"It's a big relief because of the fear factor," he said. "If he was still in the area, you never know if he might come back."

Police believe Pallipurath took a taxi to Manhattan and caught a bus from there to Georgia, where he has relatives, Rowan said.

Pallipurath is charged in New Jersey with the two homicides, one attempted homicide plus aggravated assault and weapons charges, Passaic County Prosecutor James Avigliano said. Georgia authorities said they would arrange his return to New Jersey within the next 10 days.

The prosecutor also gave new details Tuesday morning about Pallipurath's path leading up to the slayings.

Pallipurath's wife had come to New Jersey to stay with her cousin three months ago to escape what relatives said was an abusive marriage to Pallipurath. The couple was married just over a year ago in India and moved to Sacramento in January.

For about two weeks before Sunday, Pallipurath stayed with an unidentified couple in Paterson, only a few miles from the church. Avigliano didn't provide details about the couple, a man and a woman, but said it did not appear that they were related to him.

The couple was questioned but were not charged in connection with the shootings.


Associated Press Writer David Porter in Newark, N.J., contributed to this report.

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