NEWARK, N.J. – The muffled voices are heard only for a few seconds, but are chilling nevertheless.
"This is the state police, you called 911, do you have an emergency?" a woman's voice asks.
"No, we don't, thank you," a man's voice answers.
"Yes, we do," a second man seems to say in the background.
"No, thank you," the first man repeats.
The 911 cell phone call made by the Rev. Edward Hinds moments before he was fatally stabbed last month in the rectory kitchen of his New Jersey parish captures the final moments of a man's life and the attempts to untangle what led up to them.
Jose Feliciano, a janitor who had worked for St. Patrick Parish in Chatham, Morris County, for 17 years, has been charged with murder and is being held on $1 million bail. Prosecutors say he stabbed Hinds 32 times, possibly after Hinds discussed terminating his employment. They believe he was the man heard on the call telling the operator there was no emergency.
State police released recordings of the 911 call and two subsequent calls by the operator Wednesday after requests under New Jersey's Open Public Records Act by The Associated Press and other news organizations.
On Hinds' initial call, on the evening of Oct. 22, the operator asks the 61-year-old priest, "911, what is your emergency?"
Hinds is heard trying to give an address: "Washington Avenue" is all he can get out.
After some static, a quick "Help!" before the line goes dead.
Next, the operator calls the number back and gets Hinds' voice mail. On a second attempt, a man prosecutors say is Feliciano answers the phone and assures the operator there is no emergency.
The operator's actions were the subject of a state police investigation after Hinds was found the following morning when he didn't show up for Mass. No police were dispatched to the scene after the calls.
"A preliminary investigation indicated that she followed the proper procedure," State Police Lt. Gerald Lewis said.
The 64-year-old Feliciano, of Easton, Pa., whose two children attended the parish's school, confessed to the crime, prosecutors said. They said he had been using fake names and identification to cover up a two-decade-old arrest warrant in Philadelphia for indecent assault on a minor.
Court documents revealed that Hinds had discussed firing Feliciano with a St. Patrick School official one day before his death, and mentioned an irregularity in Feliciano's personnel file regarding a criminal background check.
At Feliciano's initial court appearance last week, prosecutors described finding Hinds' cell phone in a trash can near the janitor's house, as well as blood stains on clothing and in sinks at his house.