Middlesex County, New Jersey
On March 26, 1969, 17 year old Linda Balabanow, after working her shift at a drug store in Roselle, New Jersey, disappeared leaving her job at 5:00 p.m. Linda did not return to her family home at 1766 Union Avenue, Union, NJ. The next day, March 27, 1969, her mother reported to police that her daughter had not returned home from work the night before. When she was first reported missing, she had been classified as a run-away, despite Linda leaving all of her money and her cosmetics at home. At the time, Linda was attending Union High School, and previously transferred from Mother Seton High School in Clark, NJ. She loved to write poetry and draw.
On April 27, 1969, Linda’s body was found in Woodbridge Township, floating in the Raritan River near the Hess Oil dock. She was nude from the waist down, but with no penetrative rape evident. A truck tire chain was wrapped around her neck, with her dress wrapped around her face and head and tied with an electrical cord around her neck in a “granny knot.” Her hands were bound with rope. Her shoes were missing. She had a fractured skull from blunt force trauma, her jaw was broken and seemed to have been beaten about the face. An autopsy concluded that Linda had been strangled with the electrical cord but she was ultimately killed by a ferocious blow to her head.
Four months after Linda was found, a 16 year old girl named Rosemary Calandriello was reported missing. Her body was never found. A serial killer named Robert Zarinsky became the prime suspect in Rosemary’s murder,(https://charleyproject.org/case/rosemary-k-calandriello ), Linda’s murder, and was being looked into for the 1965 murder of Mary Ann Klinsky. (https://ashmysteries.com/2021/04/16/solved-mary-ann-klinsky/) Police also suspected Robert had killed Joanne Delardo and Donna Carlucci, two teenage girls from Woodbridge Township, New Jersey who were both also strangled with an electrical cord. (https://www.nytimes.com/1974/12/28/archives/bodies-of-two-girls-apparently-slain-are-found-in-jersey.html ) However, there was not enough evidence to prosecute him in those two cases.
In 1975, during their investigation, police executed a search warrant on Robert’s car into the disappearance of Rosemary. Instead, a hammer was found that contained skin and hair that strongly resembled the blonde hair of Linda Balabanow. The FBI analyzed the bloody clump of hair that was found in the car and it was indeed linked to Linda. However, it wasn’t until 2019 that Robert was officially tied to the crime, through a new analysis of the DNA evidence police had gathered.
In 1999, Robert was charged with the murder of a 13 year old girl named Jane Durra. (https://ashmysteries.com/2021/05/08/the-murdered-jane-durrua/ ) She had been raped, beaten and strangled. He was awaiting trial for her murder when he died of pulmonary fibrosis in December of 2008.
Robert Zarinsky is a suspect in several murders other than the ones he was charged with, and his own sister attributes as many as 10 homicides to him.
Although it should be circumstantial like Rosemary’s case, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office maintained it never brought charges against Robert Zarinsky for Linda’s homicide because there was not enough evidence.
Information about Robert Zarinsky