Home | News | Regional | Natalie Perriello murder: Husband pleads guilty to gunning down his teacher wife in front of their son, 3, after he found out she was having affair with 20-year-old former student

Natalie Perriello murder: Husband pleads guilty to gunning down his teacher wife in front of their son, 3, after he found out she was having affair with 20-year-old former student

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  • Natalie Perriello, 42, was found lying in a pool of blood after being shot six times
  • James Perriello told 911 dispatcher he lost his cool after learning his wife was having an affair 
  • Teacher struck up relationship with a man who used to be her elementary school student
  • Murder took place in couple's home where their four children slept, including 3-year-old who was lying in bed next to his mother

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 21:33 EST, 3 December 2013 | UPDATED: 21:57 EST, 3 December 2013

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A New Hampshire man admitted in court today that he shot dead his wife just inches away from their toddler son in a fit of rage after learning she had unfaithful to him.

James Perriello, 42, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2012 slaying of Natalie Perriello, a popular teacher at Lebanon High School and a finalist for the state’s teacher of the year competition.

Mrs Perriello, a mother of four, was discovered shot multiple times inside the couple’s home on April 26, 2012. Her husband said he had secretly taped her and discovered her affair with a former student, who was 20 years old at the time.

James Perriello told a judge that he gunned down his wife, Natalie Perriello, in front of their 3-year-old son in a spasm of anger after learning she was having an affair
James Perriello told a judge that he gunned down his wife, Natalie Perriello, in front of their 3-year-old son in a spasm of anger after learning she was having an affair

Confession: James Perriello (left) told a judge that he gunned down his wife, Natalie Perriello (right), in front of their 3-year-old son in a spasm of anger after learning she was having an affair

Grisly scene: Mrs Perriello was found lying in a pool of blood inside her New Hampshire home after being shot six times in front of her 3-year-old son

Grisly scene: Mrs Perriello was found lying in a pool of blood inside her New Hampshire home after being shot six times in front of her 3-year-old son

In court Tuesday, James Perriello said he was ‘very angry’ the night he killed his wife, and he told Judge Brian Tucker he was ‘very sorry’ for what he had done.

As he spoke in court, Natalie Perriello’s brother, Bob LaFlam Jr., stared at him.

‘I just couldn’t believe…what he did to those kids,’ LaFlam said after Perriello pleaded guilty.

James Perriello’s parents declined to comment. The couple’s four children, ages 3 to 12 at the time of the shooting, are being raised by Natalie Perriello’s mother.

Prosecutors will ask for 35 years to life in prison when he is sentenced December 18, while Perriello’s lawyer, Kimberly Cossick, will seek 18 to 36 years in prison.

The Perriellos had a turbulent relationship for years, but their marital problems took a turn for the worse after the birth of their fourth child, according to court records.

They had separated several months before the shooting but eventually returned home, sleeping in separate bedrooms.

They went to a marriage counselor on the day of the shooting. Police said on the night of the murder, Perriello continued confronting his wife about what he had heard on the recording.

Police learned through the tape that Natalie Perriello, 42, and her 20-year-old former student Joshua Towle ‘were affectionate toward one another and had initiated a relationship.’

Joshua Towle
Natalie Perriello

Dangerous liaison: Natalie struck up a relationship with her former student, 20-year-old Josh Towle (left) just months before the shooting, and on the night of her death she came clean to her husband about the affair

Perriello also told police he had been monitoring his wife’s email, social media sites and text messages.

The husband initially told police he went back into the bedroom with a gun to scare his wife and that it accidentally went off when she tried to grab it. He claimed the gun had a hair-trigger but a police expert testified it fired normally.

The first bullet struck Natalie’s ring finger as she tried to grab for the gun. After Perriello shot her once in the head at close range, he fired five more times before letting her lifeless body drop to the floor, Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin said.

One bullet was lodged in the window frame above where the 3-year-old lay next to his mother.

Just days before the shooting, Perriello told several co-workers at a construction site that he believed his wife was having an affair and said at least three times that he ‘ought to just kill’ her, Strelzin told the judge.

Crime of passion: Perriello said he was 'very angry' the night he killed his wife, and he told Judge Brian Tucker he was 'very sorry' for what he had done

Crime of passion: Perriello said he was 'very angry' the night he killed his wife, and he told Judge Brian Tucker he was 'very sorry' for what he had done

According to New Hampshire Union Leader, Towle had been Perriello’s student at Canaan Elementary School, where she had taught for 15 years before becoming a technology teacher at Lebanon High School.

The two reconnected via Facebook and text messages last year while Towle was living in California, and their relationship turned physical when the 20-year-old returned to New Hampshire just days before Perriello’s killing.

Perriello said his wife told him she had fallen out of love with him, according to police testimony at a preliminary hearing last year.

‘My wife was having an affair and I just lost my cool,’ police said Perriello told a 911 dispatcher on the night of the killing.

A responding officer found the body of the 42-year-old mother of four lying in a pool of blood on the bedroom floor.

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