The prayer group met regularly at St. Anthony of Padua, a Roman Catholic church in Camden, N.J., where behind the modest brick facade impassioned, spontaneous, full-throated “confessions” were shared.
These meetings took place in the early 1980s, during a boom in charismatic Christianity that encouraged the dozens of participants to feel the Holy Spirit and unburden themselves of guilt for their sins.
Into this heady mix of faith and the support of fellow believers walked Pedro Hernandez, who told the prayer group he had strangled a boy and left the body in a Dumpster, according to Norma Hernandez, his sister, and Tomas Rivera, a leader of the group who said he was present.
Mr. Rivera, speaking Sunday at his home in Blackwood, N.J., said it was not his place to call the police “because he did not confess to me” one on one.
“He confessed to the group,” Mr. Rivera said.
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