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Parole denied for honor student’s killer

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST : The New Jersey State Parole Board this morning denied Christopher Righetti his freedom for raping and murdering young Kim Montelaro 33 years ago.

After hearing Righetti’s four-hour appeal at Northern State Prison in Newark this morning, a two-member parole panel gave him the news. Another group of board members will determine when the 39-year-old killer will again be eligible.

“Hopefully, that hearing won’t be for another 30 years,” said New Milford Police Chief Frank Papapietro.

That process should take 3-4 weeks, the board said.

Last month, Montelaro’s elderly parents and her brother made the trip from Florida to Trenton to address the Parole Board. They were supported by members of a grass-roots group known as , organized by Washington Township Councilman Bob Schroeder. The group brought nearly 1,100 e-mailed and handwritten letters it had gathered to Trenton to give the board before the parole hearing.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Montelaro family

“Thank you, all of you, for supporting our effort to keep Kim Montelaro’s killer behind bars,” Schroeder wrote in an email this afternoon, adding that many of the letters “were so moving.”

Alumni from Immaculate Heart Academy “shared their stories of what a wonderful girl Kim Montelaro was, and how much she has been missed,” he wrote.

“Parents expressed their fears for the safety of their own children if Righetti were to be released. Others wrote in to share their personal and harrowing memories of Christopher Righetti, and how scary it was when he lived in our community,” Schroeder wrote. “The Parole Board took all of these letters into consideration, and determined that Righetti must serve additional time on his Life sentence. For that, we are very grateful.

“It is because of you and your willingness to stand up for Kim that we have succeeded. Again, THANK YOU.”

Schoeder isn’t finished, though. He said he is going to ask the board to deny Righetti another hearing for at least 30 years, hopefully giving Kim’s 70-something parents the closure they’ve been denied each time they’ve had to go to Trenton to again plead their case.

Back when this first happened to us, I was angry,” Anthony Montelaro told CLIFFVIEWPILOT in an email earlier this summer. “This man snuffed out my young daughter’s life, and the pain was indescribable. No question about it — I wanted revenge.

“Now, as the years have passed, the pain of our loss is still there,” he said, “but I have gotten to a point where I do not want revenge or retribution. All I want is justice, not only for Kim’s sake, but for the sake of the entire community.

“Kim’s life was taken from her, and now, her killer must be penalized for the rest of his life. He should never, ever be paroled.”

It was August 1976 when Righetti — then 16 — abducted the 20-year-old honor student from the parking lot of the Paramus Park Mall and took her to a wooded area, where he raped her and stabbed her six times in the chest.

Behind bars, Righetti joined powerlifting teams and set a state corrections record in 1996 with a 1,000-pound squat, part of a state-record total lift of 2,105 pounds.

Righetti PHOTO: Courtesy NJDOC

The Parole Board saga :
Parole hearings for slain woman’s killer: Enough already
Family, supporters take fight to Trenton
Movement grows to block killer’s parole
Father of slain girl wants killer kept behind bars

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