Death Means Life

by Diane Dimond on February 14, 2009

Joseph Pallipurath, Charged With Murder

Joseph Pallipurath, Charged With Murder

The Crime beat is often an ugly one to cover. But every once in a while out of the ugliness comes tear jerking hope, even salvation.

The murders occurred in the most unlikely place and among an unlikely people.  The congregation of a small church in Clifton, New Jersey had just celebrated mass and was kneeling to say prayers for the dead when evil came into their sanctuary.

Evil had traveled a long way – from India, through California and then across America to New Jersey.  His name was Joseph Pallipurath and he carried the delusion that he, literally, owned another person, his wife of less than a year, 24 year old Reshama James.

They had their roots in a different country and culture and submitted to an arranged marriage by their Indian families, going back to India for the ceremony. After settling in California the brutality began and American born Reshama knew just what to do.  She got a court in Sacramento to issue restraining orders against Joseph but it did no good. So Reshama fled to New Jersey to start anew. Evil followed her and more court orders were issued in New Jersey.

As they say, restraining orders are just pieces of paper … … and soon there was Joseph, standing in the vestibule of the New Jersey church where Reshama found weekly solace.

St. Thomas Syrian Knanaya Church

St. Thomas Syrian Knanaya Church

Holding a small silver handgun he aimed to kill —  not to simply punish. He shot his wife in the head when she refused to leave with him. He then shot in the head his wife’s 47 year old cousin who had given Reshama sanctuary. Next to be shot was a 25 year old church director named Dennis John Malloosseril who had instinctively stepped in to help. As worshipers ducked for cover, and then wailed in disbelief, Reshama died on the spot. Good Samaritan Dennis Malloosseril died in the hospital the next day, one day shy of his 26th birthday, two days shy of Thanksgiving Day, 2008.  The cousin has miraculously survived.

Law enforcement officers in Macon, Georgia captured 27 year old Joseph Pallipurath as he drove his California tagged jeep toward the home of his relatives.  Less than two days had passed since his murderous outburst at the church.

Last weekend a Thanksgiving Day of a different sort came to that very church. St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church played host to the five people who now live because Dennis John Malloosseril died.

Among the congregants last Sunday was John Muscarella who carried Dennis’ life saving lungs in his chest, Terence Begley had received one of Dennis’ kidneys and his pancreas. Migdalia Torrez of Cleveland, Ohio got the other kidney. Malta Hammed was also able to be there in church because her long battle with liver disease ended when doctors transplanted Dennis’ liver into her ailing body.  And last but not least, was James O’Hea who also would have died had it not been for the gift of a new heart, made possible because Dennis’ parents decided to donate the organs of their hero son. He was the giving type of person, they said, and they wanted to honor that trait.

Begley, Hameed, Torrez, Muscarella, O'Hea

Begley(at mic), Hameed, Torrez, Muscarella, O’Hea – (AP photo)

Looking at the scene I was struck by something no one mentioned at the service. It was the human soup mix of races and cultures involved in this remarkable event. An Indian man died a tragic, needless death and gave life to Americans of Middle Eastern, Italian, Irish and Mexican descent. They were Christians, Catholics, one was Muslim, all were of one belief this day.

As Muscarella, Begley, Torrez, Hammed and O’Hea greeted Dennis’ parents they each stepped up and exchanged warm hugs as if they were part of a long-time family.  In fact, they’d only just met. Usually a transplant donation family simply gets a letter of thanks in the mail, if even that.

Side-by-side they worshiped together in the very church where evil came that day last November.  Just a few short months later and those who benefited from the Malloosseril’s selfless act were standing, mostly healthy and complete, to say a communal thank you for the precious gifts of life.


Hameed, Muscarella, O’Hea, Aley Mallooseril, Begley – (AP)

The most touching moment had to be when it came time for O’Hea’s hug with Aley Mallooseril, Dennis’ mother. The tiny bespectacled woman, dressed in a traditional silver and blue Indian sari looked at the Irishman’s T-shirt which bore a large picture of her dead son with his name stenciled underneath.  She slowly bent toward the man, put her ear to his chest and let it rest there for a few moments.  When she finally pulled away she said simply, “It is my son beating through him.”


Like I said, sometimes covering the crime beat makes you sad. Other times it just makes you glad to be alive.


John and Aley Mallooseril Welcome Transplant Reciepients

John and Aley Mallooseril Greeting Transplant Recipients (AP photo)


DianeDimond February 14, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Albuquerque Journal Reader Leila H. writes:

"Thanks for today's story on the organ donor/happy outcome—nice to have an upbeat piece. I would like to point out that in your mention of the diversity of the recipients, you remarked that they were "Christians, Catholics and one Muslim". Roman Catholics are STILL Christians–were the original ones, in fact!"

DianeDimond February 14, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Albuquerque Journal Reader Shirley, PhD writes:

"Thank you for an inspiring story about the body parts donations that the parents of a slain son made to 5 recipients.

Why don't more families do this? Especially moving was the deceased mother's remark after listening to the recipient's heart, which he had received from the slain son. Of course her son continued living.

DianeDimond February 15, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Incredible Story, Diane!

Tim February 15, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Incredible story, Diane!

Robert Mawson February 15, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Thank you for a most beautiful story which I am sending around the world. You see, I know how the mother of the hero must have felt, as I am a 65 man and alive because I received a 23 year old woman's heart!
Become an organ donor today!
Robert Mawson
Hastings-on-Hudson, New York

jeff liddell February 15, 2009 at 10:15 pm

What a great column. Charles Dudley Warner wrote "The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value". It is nice to see that from such an evil act good deeds can be born.

DianeDimond February 15, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Dear Robert – What a wonderful, personal testament. Thank you for taking the time to write! ~ DD

DianeDimond February 15, 2009 at 10:55 pm

FaceBook Reader Lynn B writes:

"What a different murder story…in the end good triumphed over evil. I bookmarked your web site…very interesting…will be visiting often."

DianeDimond February 15, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Albuquerque Journal Reader (and anonymous law enforcement official) writes:

"OK, thanks for making me cry at 9am on Saturday morning. Your column today was beautiful. The part where she puts her ear on O'Hea's heart…I was crying like a little girl.
Well done, my friend."

Frank Praytor February 16, 2009 at 1:16 am

While I wouldn't recommend transplanting any of my 81-year-old, mangled and worn-out organs into younger persons' bodies, I'm pleased to read about intelligent and caring people who permit use of deceased loved ones' organs, thereby saving the lives of those in desperate need. I hope it'll encourage more end-of-life giving. I'll have to settle for arranging to have my carcass donated for exploration by med school scholars. Thank you for your artfully-crafted prose that puts lumps in my goozle. Wish I coulda writ like that when I was a police reporter.

DianeDimond February 16, 2009 at 1:32 am

Dear Frank:

Ummmm, not sure where your goozle is located but I hope the lumps leave soon! 😉

Seriously, thanks for the kind comments. ~ DD

DianeDimond February 16, 2009 at 2:55 am

Now I know! 😉


DianeDimond February 16, 2009 at 4:09 am

FaceBook Friend Ed S writes:

"Angels always appear when they are needed and it seems that Dennis was that angel."

Laura Oldham February 16, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Wonderful article. Would have liked more details on the bravery of the young man.

jeff hughes February 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Things like this, making good out of evil are what the Lord wants. Pretty much negates pallipurath's idea of life………

DianeDimond February 16, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Reader J.S. writes:

" Diane, some times through an evil act, there are some good things that can come out of it.
This is one of them. May God richly bless the family (suffering from) this retched act …"

Jim_Kouri February 16, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Diane, that was a great story. A far cry from the injustice of the O.J. Simpson case. One interesting aspect of your story is that it occurred only a few miles from where I live, yet your column is the first I've read regarding that case.

Janet Turner February 16, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Well I must admit this brought a tear….okay alot of tears.
Just when you seriously begin to doubt humanity something like this comes along.
I am a total organ and tissue donor. When I am gone I am not going to be needing any of these things so someone might put them to good use.
If a child….or anyone….could use what I have to do things like see…. even if it were for a little while, it makes it all worth it.
Thank you ,Diane for this story.

Lyn February 20, 2009 at 4:00 am

Yes it was an amazing story Diane. I have got "donor" on my driving license but unfortunately I cannot give blood here in the US as I am from the UK! Pity cos I gave 50 times over there. However, I hope that one day my organs can be put to good use on someone who needs them. It must be an incredible feeling to know that you have saved a life or at least given a longer life to someone who needs it.

John Shelton March 23, 2009 at 11:33 pm

Diane, it;s stories like this that makes me so glad that I am a organ donor. Of course
I am not ready to give out my heart or liver yet, but when and if the time comes for me, I want
to be there for some one else if at all possible. Please continue to tell the world of the good
things in life, the media for sure will not do so. They've only got time for the scum in Washington DC.

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