The Trench Reynolds Report

All Crime Is Personal

Pal’s statement: Zarate brothers plotted to slay Randolph teen:

More information in the case of Jonathan Zarate and his younger brother who killed and dismembered Jennifer Parks…

Two brothers plotted to lure teenager Jennifer Parks to their father’s house in Randolph, where they beat, stabbed and shared the grisly task of cutting off her legs, according to a statement given to police by a friend who tried to help the siblings dump the body.

Recktenwald said that V.B. told her and another detective that the brothers confided on July 31 that Jonathan Zarate was communicating with the 16-year-old girl next door over the Internet and invited her over.

“They were planning to kill her,” Recktenwald quoted V.B. as saying.

V.B. said the brothers told him they killed Parks because she had gotten the younger brother in trouble so that he had to pay some fines. Recktenwald said the Clifton teen gave the following account, based on what the brothers told him:

Jonathan Zarate talked a few minutes with Parks after her arrival at his home around 2 a.m. on July 30. Zarate started choking the girl. His younger brother, who was hiding in a basement closet, jumped out, started punching Parks all over her body, and then grabbed a knife and started stabbing her. The elder Zarate put a bandanna over her face to stifle her screams. Both brothers then shared the job of cutting off Parks’ legs so they could fit her body into a trunk that normally held camping equipment.

“They cut her legs off and put her in, like, a box,” V.B. related, Recktenwald said.

Authorities have said the Zarate brothers — who allegedly used to bully Parks over her weight and appearance –recruited the help of the Clifton friend to help them try to toss a trunk containing the girl’s body over a bridge in Rutherford into the Passaic River.

The trio was caught by passing police officers around 3 a.m. on July 31 before the trunk could be heaved. Jonathan Zarate confessed, saying that he alone invited Parks over to watch television around 2 a.m. on July 30, after which he flew into a rage, beat her with a pole, stuffed a bandanna down her throat, stabbed her and cut off her legs. The younger Zarate –whose full name has not been publicly released because he is a juvenile — told police he learned of the murder after the fact. The Clifton teen originally gave two statements: in one, he denied any knowledge of the killing; in the second, he claimed Jonathan Zarate did the murder. His story changed on Sept. 20.

Authorities said that the younger Zarate got in trouble several years ago when he damaged Laurie Parks’ car by throwing rocks at it. School officials also rearranged his classes in Randolph so that he and Jennifer Parks did not run into each other. The 15-year-old wound up leaving Randolph a few years ago to live with his biological mother in Garfield but was visiting his father on Old Brookside Road the weekend Parks was slain.

Jonathan Zarate was transferred last week out of the Morris County jail to a psychiatric facility after two episodes of punching corrections officers and relieving himself multiple times on the floor of his cell. His lawyer said Jonathan Zarate admits the killing and a psychiatric defense is being pursued.

Try the younger brother as an adult and send them both to the needle.

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