In search of the chimney sweep murderer

Who killed Richard Zarriello?

Family, friends, and the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office want to know. The 51-year-old father of two, co-owner of the Clean Sweep Chimney Depot in South Hackensack, was brutally murdered inside his shop April 12 and so far no arrests have been made.

That angers his sister Tracy, who was spurred into action on her own to offer a $25,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of whoever killed her brother.

"I feel like who the hell had the right, like who the hell had the right to do this to somebody?" she said.

She's even hired renowned private eye Jerry Palace, a former NYPD detective, to do his own investigation.

Recently he took Chasing News to the scene of the crime inside the chimney sweeping and fireplace store. Palace thinks this was an up-close-and-personal, brutal slaying.

"Think about it," Palace said, “Standing in the back room of the chimney sweep shop. Like that -- pulling a gun out, sticking a gun out. And that's how it probably went down. Takes a lot."

Which is why Palace and Tracy Zarriello think the killer was someone close to Richard.

Richard Zarriello was last seen doing work inside the chimney sweep shop the afternoon of April 11.

When he didn't show for a family event that day, his family became concerned. Police let into the Clean Sweep the next day found Zarriello inside, shot six times in the head.

Still alive, he was rushed to the hospital but taken off life support the next day.

Though he usually carried a few hundred dollars cash on him, the chimney sweep shop is a mostly cash business, and the cash register was found undisturbed.

Richard Zarriello was a strong, tough man who would not have given up without a fight, but so far the trail to his killer feels as though it's getting cold.

Tracy Zarriello is hoping the reward offer will warm things up and help her feelings of guilt for being at odds with her brother over a long-running argument up to his death.

"It was just stupid, that's the only word I think of," she said, "My sister had a birthday party and I made up excuses not to go ... you always think there's time.”

If you have information on this crime, call Jerry Palace at 917-881-5980, the South Hackensack Police Department at 201-440-0042 or the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office Confidential Tip Line at 201-226-5532.

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