Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Killer Denied Parole for 5th Time

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Killer Denied Parole for 5th Time

Article excerpt

The state again denied parole Monday to Christopher Righetti, a River Vale man serving a life sentence for the 1976 rape and murder of a New Milford woman.

Two members of the state Parole Board met with Righetti on Monday at Northern State Prison in Newark and issued a handwritten decision sheet denying parole. They also recommended that the board extend the timeframe for Righetti's future parole eligibility, in light of the severity of his crime, officials said.

"Given the totality of the circumstances, there was a reasonable expectation that he would violate parole," said Scott Dechen, regional supervisor for the state Parole Board.

Righetti, 51, was convicted in 1977 of sexually assaulting and stabbing to death Kim Montelaro, 20. Her body was discovered near a Washington Township swim club a day after she disappeared from Paramus Park Mall.

The grisly crime shocked Bergen County, and continues to spark public outrage. At the time, Righetti was 16 and had already served a short juvenile sentence for rape.

Montelaro's parents, who now live in Florida, said they were "euphoric" at news of the parole denial.

"I am so thrilled and happy that the Parole Board announced the decision without a delay," said Montelaro, who in April provided video testimony for the board.

A petition against Righetti's release, circulated in March by the office of Assemblyman Robert Schroeder, R-Woodcliff Lake, garnered more than 3,000 signatures.

Schroeder plans to lobby the three-member Parole Board in the next two weeks, "urging them to set the parole eligibility for no sooner than 35 years, to ensure that Mr. and Mrs. Montelaro never have to go through this again," said Lisa Yakomin, Schroeder's chief of staff.

Timetable reversed

This was Righetti's second appearance before the Parole Board in three years. The timing resulted from a short-lived early-release program that was in place when the Parole Board issued its latest recommendation. It was his fourth try for parole, according to Superior Court Appellate Division records.

Following Righetti's parole hearing in 2009, the board in June 2010 denied parole and recommended a 12-year parole eligibility term; but by the time the board released its official written decision in November of that year, the state Legislature had approved an early-release program that, in part, guaranteed parole hearings every three years. …

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