Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Zarinsky

Talk, Talk

A prison spokesman announced that Zarinsky had requested, and received, a transfer from medium-security Northern State Prison in Newark to the maximum-security New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. Authorities claimed that because of the publicity, inmates were coming down hard on Zarinsky.

Judith Sapsa's lawyer thought otherwise.

According to the Star-Ledger, "Sapsa's attorney...said prison officials made the move not because Zarinsky was afraid of other inmates, but because Sapsa and her husband, Peter, feared that Zarinsky could break out of the medium-security prison and harm them."

Both theories would later prove far from the truth.

A source for Court TV's Crime Library revealed the real reasons behind Zarinsky's transfer: "It turns out that Judith Sapsa's son had become a corrections officer and he was assigned Zarinsky's cell. Nobody knew. How would they? His last name was Sapsa. The prisoner's last name was Zarinksy. This was the nephew and the uncle. Zarinsky was furious that they transferred him and not his nephew. He had been there for 25 years. He was comfortable."

Northern State Prison patch
Northern State Prison patch

Zarinsky's move spurred the Sapsas to keep talking.

Peter Sapsa, Judith's husband, told this tale:

Summer, 1969.

Zarinsky knocks on their door at 3 in the morning, asks for a ride to Hunterdon County - an hour northwest of Linden. He puts in the trunk of Peter Sapsa's car a pick, shovel and gunny sack. They stop at a remote area in Readington Township. Zarinsky then takes the burlap bag and disappears into the woods.

Had he gone there to bury Rosemary Calandriello...?

Guzzi thought the story "didn't seem plausible" and was "filled with holes."

Pfeiffer added: "We weren't sure if he was being totally truthful. Peter's memory was not that clear. It was somewhat cloudy. And he had some health issues, too. We were never able to pinpoint where Rosemary's body may have been buried."

Judith Sapsa now claimed that her brother may have been involved in the murders of up to 10 area girls.

She tried to connect her brother to the death of Linda Balabonow. According to Guzzi, Judith Sapsa said her brother "had been after her for awhile."

Judith Sapsa told police a story about visiting a beauty salon prior to a family wedding. Her brother had given her a ride to the shop, which was located in the Roselle Shopping Center, across the street from where Balabonow worked as a clerk in Sobin Drugs. As reported in the Star-Ledger, Weiner said, "She knows her brother was supposed to come back and pick her up...but he never did."

He never showed at the wedding, either.

Judith Sapsa said shortly thereafter her brother gave their mother a radio with the serial numbers scratched away.

The only problem was Judith Sapsa's dates didn't line up.

Balabonow disappeared two days before their family wedding.

The investigation continued.

Police searched a thrift shop called Just About Anything on St. George Avenue in Linden. The owner had bought the contents of the Zarinsky home in 1996 for $800. He had been phoned by the Sapsas, who intimated that the house had been listed on the marketplace and was about to be sold.

According to the New York Times, "The owner of the store, said...authorities were looking for a pair of handcuffs and a .22 caliber handgun that had belonged to Mr. Zarinsky."

They found neither.

Faced with another dead end, investigators decided to narrow their focus on the murder of Charles Bernoskie.

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