MORRISTOWN, N.J. – Three teenage boys were caught trying to dump a steamer trunk containing the dismembered body of a 16-year-old girl into a river, authorities said Monday.
Lawyers said Jennifer Parks (search)' 18-year-old neighbor, Jonathan A. Zarate, invited her over to watch late-night television but became angry early Saturday, punching and then stabbing her in the basement.
Zarate used a long knife to dismember the body, then stashed it in the trunk for a day in his father's Jeep, county prosecutor Michael M. Rubbinaccio said.
Zarate pleaded not guilty Monday to murder, weapons offenses and hindering apprehension. He is being held on $1 million bail.
Zarate, his 14-year-old brother and a 16-year-old were approached by a police officer early Sunday who became suspicious about their car parked on a bridge over the Passaic River (search).
Authorities said the boys planned to throw the trunk into the river.
The juveniles, who were not named by authorities, were charged with unlawful disposal of human remains and tampering with evidence.
Zarate also was charged with employing juveniles in the commission of a crime.