WINTER HAVEN — A handyman is accused of using a Catholic priest's own gun to kill him at a beachfront house in Mississippi, then taking his ex-wife and kids on a Disney World vacation in the dead cleric's car, authorities said. They had bought three-day passes to the theme park and were preparing to make an early start Tuesday when the suspect was arrested.
Jeremy Wayne Manieri was taken into custody without incident about 6 a.m. at a hotel in Polk County after police tracked the priest's stolen car using its antitheft device, Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Jon Kalahar said. Manieri will be charged with murder once he's brought back to Waveland, Miss.
The Rev. Edward E. Everitt, 70, had gone to the Waveland house, which is owned by several priests who use it as a weekend retreat, after Sunday Mass. Manieri did odd jobs for the priests.
The priest's body was found by a caretaker Monday.
"When she entered she found the man on the couch in the front room and he was bleeding from the mouth so she backed out and called the police," Waveland police Chief James Varnell said.
After the killing, Manieri took the priest's silver Chevy HHR, picked up his ex-wife, his 10-year-old stepson and his 5-year-old daughter and headed for a motel in Mobile, Ala., said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. They drove to a Days Inn in Polk County on Monday evening and bought Disney passes with the priest's cash, Judd said.
Judd said Everitt's .380 semi-automatic pistol was found in the stolen car by Polk County deputies. Deputies also found a wallet in the hotel room; it had a card with the priest's name on it inside.
Manieri, 31, is a registered sex offender with a long criminal record, according to the Mississippi's sex offender registry.