By Karen Zautyk
Somebody knows something.
Six years ago, an 87-year-old man was deliberately run down by a car in a South Kearny parking lot and robbed while he lay helpless on the ground.
He died of his injuries the next day. Authorities ruled the death a homicide.
The Kearny Police Department and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office have been hunting the killers ever since, and as the anniversary of the crime is marked, they are making a renewed call for the public’s help in solving this cold case.
Do you recognize the suspect in the sketch? Did you ever hear any chatter on the streets? Any rumors?
Six years ago, did someone show up around Christmas with a lot of gifts? Or a lot of cash? Or a lot of drugs?
Do you have any information? Or suspicions? If you have a conscience, has it been bothering you?
If conscience isn’t enough of an incentive, maybe money is: There is a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) involved.
The crime occurred at approximately 10:37 a.m., Monday, Dec. 15, 2008, at O.J. Tank Truck Wash, 47-49 Old Lincoln Highway in South Kearny.
William D. Savino of Garfield, an O.J. employee, had just returned from a bank run, withdrawing a substantial amount of money from the Valley National Bank on Central Ave. in South Kearny.
Savino parked his car and, when he got out, he was intentionally hit by a black 1996 Honda Civic with N.J. plates. “It looks like he had been followed from the bank,” KPD Lt. Timothy Wagner told us.
As the victim lay on the ground, mortally injured, one of two men in the Civic walked over to him, rifled his pockets and took a money bag containing $6,000.
The robber then jumped back in the Civic, which sped away. It was recovered later that day, abandoned in South Kearny, its engine still running.
Police later learned that the Civic had been stolen in Newark within 12 hours of the Savino hit-run.
Savino, a World War II veteran who, at age 87, was still working, was conscious when found, Wagner said. “He was taken to University Hospital in Newark, slipped into a coma and died the next day.”
Shortly after the crime, O.J. Truck Wash posted the $10,000 reward. Last week, when contacted by The Observer, a company spokesperson said it was still being offered.
Wagner noted that he has worked on this case “for most of the last six years,” including once being on loan to the Prosecutor’s Office for six months.
“I’ve still been going over there,” he said. The HCPO investigator assigned to the case is Det. Matt Stambuli.
“We followed a lot of leads, but unfortunately none proved fruitful,” Wagner said.
Last week, the HCPO and the KPD reached out to the public for information once again. The sketch of one of the suspects wanted for questioning has been re-released, along with his description: A white or Hispanic male in his late 20s to early 30s [six years ago], fair complexion, about 5-foot-9.
“We’re looking particularly for anyone who has knowledge of a male, or two males, who match the description in that sketch and are known to have stolen a car in the area of Branch Brook Park in Newark around the time of this murder,” Wagner said.
In an interview last week with News 12 New Jersey, the lieutenant noted, “Somewhere at home sits a girlfriend or a brother or a friend or even an enemy who has some knowledge of this and remembers six years ago, right before Christmas, that their friend came home with a windfall of money or drugs.”
Anyone who believes they might have information is asked to call the Kearny police at 201-998-1313 or the HCPO Homicide Unit at 201- 915-1345.
“Anonymous tips are welcome,”Wagner said.