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Suspect Arrested in 1958 NJ Murder

August 14, 1999

ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) _ Theodore Schiffer got away with murder for nearly 41 years, prosecutors say.

But now, after help from an informant, authorities have charged Schiffer with the 1958 killing of Rahway police officer Charles Bernoskie.

The 61-year-old carpet installer was arrested Thursday at his home in Peckville, Pa.

``I don’t want to use the word unbelievable,″ said Bernoskie’s son, Charles Bernoskie, who was nearly 5 when his father was killed.

The arrest ``just brings a little bit of closure,″ Bernoskie said. ``It’s an answer that you have to have.″

Bernoskie, 30, was shot three times when he confronted two men robbing a car dealership. He had emptied his service revolver.

Investigators had little more than the statements of two witnesses who saw two young men leaving the dealership, and fingerprints. The witnesses are now dead.

Union County Prosecutor Thomas Manahan said the Postal Service recently gave authorities a lead to someone who led them to Schiffer. He would not elaborate.

But a police affidavit obtained by The Scranton (Pa.) Times quotes a woman named Judith Sapsa as saying Schiffer and her brother, Robert Zarinsky, came to her home with gunshot wounds on the night Bernoskie was shot.

Sapsa said her mother treated their wounds, and Zarinsky told her that he shot Bernoskie after the officer shot Schiffer, the affidavit said.

Schiffer’s fingerprints match the prints from the murder scene, and police found a scar on his chest where Sapsa said a bullet had been removed, the affidavit said.

No charges have been filed against Zarinsky, who is serving a life prison term for murdering a 17-year-old girl.

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