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Home » Valor Awards » 2006 Special Recognition Award

2006 Special Recognition Award

Sergeant Glenn Amodeo
Secaucus Police Department
 Police Officer Robert Ulrich
Secaucus Police Department

Sergeant Amodeo and Police Officer Ulrich were out of their own territory and had no obligation to stop when they saw several teenagers preparing to toss something into the Passaic River.  After chasing speeding motorcyclists into Clifton along Route 3, they were returning to Secaucus eastbound through Rutherford on the Union Avenue Bridge.  For anything strange they saw, it would be easy to say “Not My Job.”

However, Amodeo and Ulrich didn’t think that way.  When they saw something suspicious, they stopped to check.  And what they found was shocking. 

In the westbound traffic lane of the bridge was a Jeep stopped with its headlights off.  Beyond the Jeep they saw two teenage males in undershirts hoisting a footlocker towards the railing.  When the police car slowed, the boys dropped the footlocker and ran for their Jeep.  Another young man hopped into the driver”s seat. The cops knew something wasn’t right.

Ulrich and Amodeo drew their weapons, ordered the visibly nervous boys out of the vehicle, and turned off its ignition. While Ulrich inspected the vehicle’s paperwork and the boys stammered excuses and apologies for dumping garbage, Amodeo peered inside the vehicle. Through the open hatch, he could see a black plastic bag, tightly tied.  He punctured the side of the bag and saw it contained another identical bag. When he punctured that one, he could see cloth stained with fresh, moist blood and he smelled the unmistakable odor of death.

They later learned the bags contained the dismembered body of 16-year-old Jennifer Parks, killed earlier that evening by Jonathan Zarate, her 18-year-old neighbor in his basement.  After the killing, Zarate had enlisted his younger brother and a friend to help him dispose of the body.

The finely honed instincts of the Secaucus officers, their willingness to get involved, and their appropriate actions outside their jurisdiction undoubtedly brought some measure of peace to grieving parents and ensured justice for the murderer and his cohorts. 

Amodeo joined the Secaucus Police Department 22 years ago after graduating from Marist High School.  He earned an undergraduate degree from Montclair State University and a graduate degree from New Jersey City University.  He has worked as a marketing coordinator and a paramedic.  A native of Bayonne, he now lives in Toms River with his wife, Carmel, and sons Andrew 22 and Stephen 20.  He is a member of the Ocean County Emerald Society, Past President of PBA Local #84, and President of the Tallymawr Homeowners Association.

Ulrich has been a Secaucus police officer for 18 years.  He is a graduate of Secaucus High School and attended William Paterson College.  He has been a buyer for White Rose Frozen Foods and a landscaper.  One of nine children (eight sisters!) he resides in Secaucus with his wife, Maria, and their daughters, Kristina 8 and Amanda 4. He enjoys all sports and finished in First Place in the Police & Fire AAU bench press competition in 1997.  He previously received several state and local awards for rescue.

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