Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The Associated Press
NEWPORT, N.H. — A father of four has been indicted on charges he murdered his wife in front of their 3-year-old son after secretly taping her and discovering that she was having an affair with a former student.
James Perriello arrives at District Court in Newport, N.H., in this April 27, 2012, photo.
James Perriello was charged Wednesday with first-and second-degree murder in the April 26 death of Natalie Perriello, a popular teacher at Lebanon High School who was one of 23 nominees for New Hampshire Teacher of the Year in 2007. Police said James Perriello told them during a three-hour interview after his arrest that Natalie Perriello was in bed at the time in their Grantham home with their youngest child next to her.
Police have said James Perriello told them he "lost his cool" and shot her multiple times because he believed she was having an affair with a younger man she once taught in school. The grand jury also found that he recklessly caused Natalie Perriello's death while showing extreme indifference to human life — adding the second-degree murder charge.
James Perriello's lawyer didn't immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment on the indictments.
State Police Sgt. Jeffrey Ladieu testified at a probable cause hearing in May that James Perriello had confronted his wife with excerpts from a tape recorder he had placed beneath the seat of her car. Ladieu said police learned through the recording that Perriello's 42-year-old wife and her 20-year-old former student "were affectionate toward one another and had initiated a relationship."
He testified she told her husband that she was no longer in love with him and that "it was over."
James Perriello is being held without bond. The couple's four children, ages 3 to 12, weren't physically harmed and are staying with their grandparents. Prosecutors filed a protective order in May barring their father from having any contact with them. Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin said Thursday that the order remains in effect.
Landieu testified in May that Perriello said he had been monitoring his wife's email, social media sites and text messages.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, the Perriellos had seen a marital counselor on the day of the shooting. After the meeting, Perriello called a police officer to ask if his wife could get arrested for texting while driving. He said he checked her phone records and found she had been texting "this guy" — sending up to 70 messages between the time she left home and when she arrived at Canaan Elementary School, where she taught at the time.
According to Ladieu, on the night of the shooting, Perriello continued confronting his wife about what he had heard on the recording.
"She was getting quite upset," Ladieu testified. "She was telling him to get out, to stop listening to the recording."
Perriello told police that he re-entered the bedroom with a gun and it accidentally went off when his wife tried to grab it. Ladieu testified that most of the bullets entered Natalie Perriello's head at a close range — "within a fraction of an inch." One bullet was lodged in the window frame above where the 3-year-old lay.
Perriello called 911 and told the dispatcher he had just shot his wife. The dispatcher kept him on the line, according to court documents, and could hear him ask his children for "hugs goodbye," adding, "I don't know when I'll see you again." Ladieu said when police got to the house, they heard children screaming and crying.
No date has been set for Perriello's arraignment.