Kolovsky, Bischoff and Botter. The opinion of the Court was delivered by Botter, J.A.D.
Defendant was convicted in a jury trial of the first degree murder of Rosemary Calandriello (hereafter Rosemary), and the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment was imposed. N.J.S.A. 2A:113-4; State v. Funicello , 60 N.J. 60 (1972), cert. den. 408 U.S. 942, 92 S. Ct. 2849, 33 L. Ed. 2d 766 (1972). Defendant's motion for a new trial was denied. On this appeal defendant asserts a number of grounds for reversal of his conviction. He contends that the trial court erred in denying his pretrial motions to suppress evidence seized at his home and to dismiss the indictment on two grounds -- that the statute of limitations had run and defendant was denied a speedy trial. Defendant also contends that errors were committed by the trial judge in the admission of evidence and in charging the jury on first degree murder. He contends that his conviction was against the weight of the evidence and that the verdict cannot stand in the face of the State's failure to produce the victim's body. Finding no grounds warranting reversal, we affirm.
On August 25, 1969, at about 6 P.M., Rosemary Calandriello, a 17-year-old high school student, left her home on Center Avenue in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, to buy milk and ice pops at two neighborhood stores. She took $2 with her and when she left she said, "I'll be right back." She was wearing a sleeveless blouse and shorts, was barefooted and carried no purse or wallet. A neighbor saw her walking down Center Avenue toward the center of town. About the same time another neighbor, Mrs. Vaughn, saw a stocky man slouched in an old, black and white Ford automobile parked near a bowling alley on Center Avenue. Shortly thereafter four boys, who were schoolmates of Rosemary, saw her riding with a stocky man, later identified as defendant, in a white Ford Galaxie with a black convertible top. She has not been seen or heard from since, and her body has never been recovered. She was promptly reported to the police as missing and they started an investigation.
Defendant's identity was determined in the following manner. On August 26 Sergeant Guzzi of the Atlantic Highlands Police Department interviewed the four boys who had seen Rosemary with defendant the night before and they furnished a description of defendant and the vehicle he was driving. Both bore distinctive features. The police learned that two days before Rosemary's disappearance a man fitting defendant's description had attempted to lure two 12-year-old girls, Lydia Hardie and Robin Spangenberg, into his car in Leonardo, a town adjacent to Atlantic Highlands. While the girls were walking down the street at about 7 P.M. a man drove up in a white car with a black convertible roof. He offered them a ride and they refused. Lydia Hardie noted the license place number, CTI 109. She testified that the man was heavy-set and had long, bushy sideburns and a goatee. She had never seen him before. The girls began to return home when the man approached again. At home Lydia told her mother of the incident and her mother reported it to the police and gave them the license plate number. The girls left home a short time later and the man approached them again and offered them a ride. They refused, but a short time later he returned once more and asked, "Are you sure?" The girls replied, "We're positive," and started to run away. The man said, "What bad little girls you are for not accepting my ride," and he uttered what was described as a "weird laugh."
The police discovered that a man fitting defendant's description had also attempted to lure two 14-year-old girls into his car two weeks earlier at the bowling alley on Center Avenue. The girls were Darlene Curren and Donna Johnson. Darlene testified that the man had a chubby face, long sideburns and a goatee, and she had never seen him before. At about 7 P.M. he approached them, offered them some drinks in his car and asked Donna if she wanted to drive his car. They refused and went into the bowling alley.
Sergeant Guzzi obtained the license plate number of the car the man was driving and learned that the car was registered
to defendant's father, with whom defendant and his wife lived, in Linden, New Jersey. Sergeant Guzzi signed a "John Doe" complaint on August 27, 1969 charging defendant with contributing to the delinquency of Rosemary, a minor. It described defendant as "a white male, age early twenties, heavy set with a round chubby face having long bushy sideburns and well trimmed goatee operating a 1961 white Ford Galaxy Convertible." (Defendant's correct age was 28 at the time.) In the late evening of August 27 defendant was arrested at his home in Linden and the automobile was impounded. Defendant was brought to the Monmouth County Jail around midnight. The next morning the four boys identified the vehicle and it was photographed. That same day, August 28, a lineup was held in which the four girls, Donna, Darlene, Lydia and Robin, viewed defendant. Despite the fact that defendant had shaved off his goatee and sideburns after being jailed, he was identified in the lineup as the man involved in the two incidents with these girls.
The automobile was examined pursuant to a search warrant obtained on August 29. The body of the car was in poor condition, the left rear was dented and the rear window was down. There was mud underneath the car and pieces of straw, a twig and grass were found on the lower front portions of the car. In the glove compartment were bottles of beer and blackberry brandy. The police found a .22-calibre rifle shell and a blank casing under the back seat. Hairclips were found under the right front seat and a pair of blue bikini-type panties were on the left rear floor. (There was testimony that Rosemary had worn hairclips and panties of this type, but these items were not identified as actually belonging to her.) In the trunk were found a chrome-plated hatchet and a ball peen hammer with a hair fiber on its flat face. Scrapings taken from the right rear bumper and right rear taillight rim proved upon analysis to be blood.
The door and window handles on the passenger side of the vehicle had been removed and were found under the right
front seat. The door and window worked properly when the handles were attached, but the holding locks on these handles had been removed. Without a handle the door on the passenger's side could not be opened from the inside, but the door and window handles on the driver's side were intact.
The initial complaint against defendant was amended on August 28 to charge defendant with abduction of Rosemary for an immoral purpose. N.J.S.A. 2A:86-3. Defendant was released on bail on August 28, 1969. Thereafter, in November 1969, defendant was indicted and arrested for attempted kidnapping or enticing a child away from parents (N.J.S.A. 2A:118-2) in connection with the incident involving the two 12-year-old girls, Lydia and Robin. He was held at the Monmouth County Jail from November 22, 1969 until December 19, 1969, when he was released on bail. During this time his jailmates included Herbert L. Williams, John Gosch and Al Glover.
In December 1969 defendant was also indicted in connection with the August 9, 1969 incident involving the 14-year-old girls, Darlene and Donna. The crimes charged were an attempt to entice a child "within the age of 14 years" to leave her father or mother, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2A:118-2, and an attempt to impair the morals of a minor by offering the minor alcoholic beverages, allegedly in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:96-3.
In March 1970 defendant was tried on the indictment involving the 12-year-old girls, but the case was dismissed by the trial judge at the close of the State's proofs. In the subsequent trial involving the 14-year-old girls, defendant was convicted of attempting to commit the alleged crimes. However, on appeal, this court in February 1971 set aside the convictions on the ground that the proofs did not support the charges. In the meantime, in June 1970, the complaint charging abduction of Rosemary was dismissed by the trial court on defendant's motion pursuant to R. 3:25-3 for unnecessary delay in presenting the charge to a grand jury. A
consent order was also entered returning the impounded vehicle to defendant's father.
Although no charges were pending after June 1970, investigations involving defendant continued. Warrants were issued in February 1975 for the search of defendant's residence and vehicles, supported by affidavits asserting that defendant was a suspect in the deaths of Rosemary and of 17-year-old Linda Balabanow in 1969, and teenagers Joanne Delardo and Doreen Carlucci in December 1974. Linda Balabanow had worked at a drug store two blocks from defendant's home. She was last seen when she left the store on March 26, 1969, and her body, to which an eight-foot truck tire chain was attached, was recovered from the Raritan River in Woodbridge Township on April 27, 1969. She had been brutally beaten and was killed before her body entered the water. A piece of electrical wire was found knotted around her broken neck. In January 1972 Sergeant Guzzi was advised that federal authorities had matched a hair sample from the Balabanow girl with the hair fiber found on the ball peen hammer taken from the trunk of defendant's car in the investigation of Rosemary's death.
Similarities were noted between the death of the Balabanow girl and the deaths of the Delardo and Carlucci girls of Woodbridge Township, who were together when last seen alive on December 13, 1974. Their bodies were found on December 27 in Manalapan Township. Both girls had been strangled, and knotted electrical wire was found on Joanne Delardo's neck. The Balabanow and Delardo bodies were nude from the waist down, and Carlucci's body was almost entirely nude. Their missing clothing was never found. The preserved state of Delardo's and Carlucci's bodies led police to suspect that they had been stored in cool temperature for more than a week before being deposited in Manalapan. Defendant had an insulated truck which he and his father used in their produce business which could have been used for this purpose. However, the searches conducted on February
21, 1975 for evidence of these crimes were not productive so far as the record before us shows.
On February 20, 1975 defendant was indicted for the murder of Rosemary Calandriello. His pretrial motions to dismiss the indictment for untimeliness were denied, and his motion to suppress evidence seized in the February 1975 searches was also denied. Trial commenced on April 7, 1975.
As indicated above, the evidence offered by the State probative of defendant's guilt was largely circumstantial. There was extensive evidence linking defendant to Rosemary's disappearance. Two of the girls testified to the August 9 and August 23 incidents in which defendant tried to entice them into his automobile and they made positive in-court identifications of defendant. The four boys who observed Rosemary in defendant's car when she was last seen also testified and made positive in-court identifications of defendant. Theirs was not merely casual observations of Rosemary and defendant. They were approaching the intersection of Center Avenue and Avenue A in Atlantic Highlands when they observed defendant's automobile coming toward them. The vehicle turned left in front of them and they followed it at a slow pace for about five minutes. Each testified that he was able to get a good view of Rosemary and defendant, and one estimated he had a front view of defendant's face for 10 to 12 seconds. They were surprised to see Rosemary in defendant's automobile, for Rosemary had no boyfriends to their knowledge.
There was much evidence to show that it was out of character for Rosemary to be in a stranger's car. She was a shy, quiet and obedient girl who got along well at home and was never known to have hitchhiked. Rosemary had gone out with one boy several times, beginning in July 1969, but only on a double date. There was no evidence offered to suggest that Rosemary had voluntarily run away from home, yet she was never seen or heard from after riding in defendant's car. By stipulation it was proved that the following government agencies had no contact with Rosemary since August
25, 1969: the Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, United States Post Office, Atlantic Highlands Board of Health, New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles and New Jersey Unemployment Bureau.
Finally, three of defendant's jailmates, John Gosch, Herbert L. Williams and Al Glover, testified to statements made by defendant while in the Monmouth County Jail. Defendant implicated himself in Rosemary's murder in talking with Gosch (saying, "They'll never find that stinking broad") and, in an angry outburst, defendant admitted to Williams and Glover that he had thrown Rosemary's body, loaded with weights, into a river. Williams also testified that defendant alluded to various details of the case. Defendant explained that the inside door handles of his car were removed so that girls could not get out, and he said that he could claim that a pair of panties, found by the police in his car, were his wife's. There was also evidence that shortly before his arrest defendant was observed leaning over the open trunk of the Ford ...