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Convicted N.J. killer charged in '68 girl slaying

/ Source: The Associated Press

A convicted killer imprisoned since 1975 for the slaying of a teenage girl was charged Tuesday with the 1968 murder of another girl, a 13-year-old from Middletown.

Robert Zarinsky was charged in the death of Jane Durrua, Monmouth County prosecutor Luis Valentin said. Authorities were expected to release additional details at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

For years, authorities considered Zarinsky a prime suspect in a string of unsolved slayings in Middlesex, Monmouth and Union counties from the 1960s and 1970s.

Durrua, an eighth-grader, was on her way home from school Nov. 4, 1968, when she was raped and bludgeoned on an isolated pathway near her home, and her body dumped next to abandoned railroad tracks.

Zarinsky, 67, a former grocer, was convicted in 1975 of murdering Rosemary Calandriello, 17, of Atlantic Highlands, who was last seen in 1969. He is serving a 98-year sentence at South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton.

In January, prosecutors sought to use DNA evidence to try to tie Zarinsky to Durrua's killing.

Another man, Jerry L. Bellamy, had been charged in 2004 with Durrua's slaying, but the charges were later dropped. Authorities said they realized that a laboratory scientist had handled DNA evidence involving Bellamy, a convicted sex offender, and evidence from the Durrua killing on the same day. That raised the possibility that the evidence of Bellamy's DNA had contaminated the Durrua evidence.

Zarinsky was also linked in recent years to an even older slaying, the Nov. 28, 1958, death of Charles Bernoskie. The Rahway police officer was shot to death during a botched burglary at a car dealership.

The Bernoskie link was part of a bizarre squabble over Zarinsky's six-figure fortune, which came from proceeds from the inheritance from his mother's house.

Zarinsky was charged in 1999 after he made a telephone call from prison and complained that more than $100,000 was missing from his mutual fund. Investigators traced the money to his sister, who then implicated him in Bernoskie's death.

In 2001, he was acquitted of Bernoskie's murder, but a civil trial jury later found him liable and awarded $10.8 million to Bernoskie's widow. She got $154,143 from the mutual fund, but a state appeals court vacated the jury award in 2006 and Zarinsky demanded his money back.

The public rallied when the widow — who had already given the money away to her children — said she faced the loss of her home in order to repay. Donations enabled her to return the money, but Zarinsky recently filed a notice that the amount did not include enough interest.