Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Zarinsky

Paranoia, It'll Destroy Ya

Zarinsky responded to the accusation with a letter to Jakubiec, calling his sister and brother-in-law "thieves and liars." He felt the story had been concocted "in an attempt to avoid criminal prosecution for their mail fraud crimes."

Judith Sapsa stuck by her tale.

She said she had held onto the family secret for 40 years, because she feared for her life. She was petrified of her brother, who still cast a murderous shadow from behind prison walls.

Zarinsky had been a bad seed right from the beginning. Rumor had it that he had painted swastikas on Jewish tombstones. Neighbors remember him killing birds and torturing animals.

"He (Zarinsky) was a sadistic individual," Jakubiec said. "He talked to me about his childhood...how he started killing animals, and at one point in the conversation he actually regressed to a 10 or 11-year-old child. He actually started talking like an 11-year-old child. He was off-the-wall."

Zarinsky moved on to robbing houses and committing petty crimes. He was sent to reform school and put under psychiatric care. He took up weight training, and at 225 pounds built himself into a cross between Dick Butkus and The Fonz.

Robert Zarinsky, young
Robert Zarinsky, young

His profile reads:

Cold.

Delusional.

Domineering.

Nazi.

Psychopath.

Paranoid schizophrenic.

"When you look at his file, he was right up there as one of the worst I'd seen in Union County," said Frank Pfeiffer, a detective for the Union County Prosecutor's Office.

Yet the flip side of Zarinsky's profile paints a completely different picture:

Intelligent.

Self-educated.

Maniacal genuis.

Egomaniac.

Arrogant.

Good to his mother.

According to Pfeiffer, "She (Judith Sapsa) said their mother always protected him. 'Bob could do no wrong. We couldn't do things that would upset Bob. Everything was about Bob.'"

Judith Sapsa said that while growing up, Zarinsky would frequently assault both her and their father. Although their mother, Veronica Zarinsky, an occasional accomplice, always made sure that her teenage son avoided punching his sister in the face.

Their mother looked the other way when the abuse turned sexual.

Zarinsky took on an alter ego - Lieutenant Schaefer. According to Gabriel H. Gluck in the Star-Ledger, he once "told investigators that he was organizing the 'American Republic Army' that would take over New Jersey and he would be king."

Angry over being jilted by an early girlfriend, he desecrated more than 1,500 headstones in Rosedale Memorial Park Cemetary; then set fire to the city's five lumber yards.

Rosedale Memorial Park Cemetary
Rosedale Memorial Park Cemetary

"He told me about the cemetery," Jakubiec said. "He told me...his words...he probably knocked down 500 headstones, and for two or three days afterward he couldn't move his arms."

He pleaded insanity and was given probation.

His father put him to work as a deliveryman in the family produce business and he settled into a solitary life.

He eventually married and his wife came to live with them in the family home and together they had a son.

The son died two years later; complications from asthma.

Then Rosemary Calandriello disappeared.

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