Nearly one month after 27-year-old Hoboken resident Andrew Jarzyk disappeared while jogging on a rainy night along the waterfront, his family confirmed that a body recovered from the Hudson River on Monday evening was his.
Jarzyk, 27, disappeared a month ago, shortly after 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 30, after he went for a jog past Pier C Park and then past Pier A park on the waterfront.
Before that, he had been enjoying a Saturday night with friends at the West Five Supper Club near his Monroe Street home on the west side of the mile-square city. He left the club around 1 a.m. early Sunday morning to walk the few blocks home, then changed clothes for a run. He had been training for a half-marathon held in Long Branch this past weekend. Jarzyk jogged the mile east to the Hoboken waterfront, then ran south along the Hudson River.
Jarzyk was spotted on a video from a restaurant near the waterfront jogging near Pier A Park in Hoboken around 2:09 a.m. Sunday morning. The park is a popular spot on the south waterfront for joggers. There was no video of him after that.
Friends and family members became concerned when he never returned to his apartment, and started a public search soon afterward.
“As we begin the healing process, please continue to be positive.” – Steve Jarzyk, brother of Andrew Jarzyk
On Monday evening, April 28, around 5:30 p.m., someone spotted a body at the ferry slips in back of the historic Hoboken train terminal. The terminal is directly south of Pier A on the south waterfront.
The family posted a heartfelt message on Facebook Tuesday night, confirming that the body was Jarzyk’s.
The police said on Wednesday that there were no initial signs of foul play, but it is still not known how Jarzyk ended up in the water. The railing is three feet high around Pier A Park and south through the train terminal, and there are no gaps in that area.
Sgt. Anthony Falco Jr., who has been handling the case since Jarzyk went missing, said that the police are no longer investigating.
“We did all the investigating we could from the start,” he said on Friday morning. “You could come up with 9,000 scenarios of what happened, but it’d still all be speculation.”
Falco said that when Jarzyk was pulled from the river, he had no personal items on him other than clothing.
Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer on Wednesday offered her condolences to Jarzyk’s family. "My heart goes out to Andrew's family and friends during this very difficult time," she said.
No foul play, or explanations
While Jarzyk’s body showed no initial signs of trauma or foul play, a full medical examination was still underway as of Wednesday. Police said they had no new information as of Friday afternoon.
The North Regional Medical Examiner’s Office in Newark, which was performing the autopsy, also had not named an official cause of death by press time.
Police said that the identification was made using dental records and other personal identifiers, likely Jarzyk’s tattoos and scars.
Falco has insisted there is no connection between Jarzyk’s disappearance and an earlier case of a Wharton, N.J. man who claimed he was thrown in the river around the same hour of the night approximately four weeks prior to Jarzyk’s disappearance. Police said they have not been able to follow up with that man, who said the perpetrators were three random men. (See related stories at hudsonreporter.com.)
It is very difficult to escape from the river’s strong currents in that area, once in the water. Three weeks ago, two other men died near Pier C early on Sunday morning when one jumped in and a friend jumped into to try to save him.
In recent years, there have been numerous cases around the country of young caucasian men in their twenties inexplicably drowning in waterways after a night out drinking with friends. Two retired law enforcement officers in New York City came up with a theory that a group of “smiley face killers” was throwing these men into waterways and leaving smiley face graffiti nearby, but that theory has been debunked by other law enforcement personnel.
However, others have been concerned about a connection, particularly in the Midwest, where dozens of these cases have been reported. Newspaper columnists and anonymous internet commenters have theorized that perhaps these men get too close to the river to urinate, or that alcohol plays some role.
Jarzyk’s loved ones have said that he was not intoxicated that night.
The last communication from him that evening was a text he sent to his girlfriend at 1:43 a.m., reportedly, “Miss you babe.” He was last spotted on video around 2:09 a.m. jogging near Pier A.
Falco said Friday that police believe he never made it off of Pier A.
On an internet Websleuths site, some commenters have asked why a person would go for a jog at 2 a.m. However, it is not unusual for young people to be out in Hoboken around that time. By law, the bars in Hoboken stop admitting new patrons around 2 a.m., and those already inside can stay until around 3 a.m.
Family speaks out
Family and friends have said that Jarzyk was a kind person with a good sense of humor, who enjoyed spending time with his family and girlfriend.
On Facebook on Tuesday night, the family posted a long message in remembrance of Jarzyk.
“Although this has been a very tragic ending, we have been able to get through this because of love, faith, and outpouring support that we have received from everyone. Andrew would be so proud,” wrote Steve Jarzyk, Andrew’s brother. “As we begin the healing process, please continue to be positive.”
The family also expressed hope that the general public could learn from Jarzyk and his untimely death.
“Do not hang your heads on the ‘what if’s’ in life. Andrew’s life on this earth was indeed cut very short. If you’ve crossed paths with him over these 27 years, consider yourself lucky. Andrew was very passionate about life and loved everyone. He would give you the shirt off his back and a shoulder to cry on if you needed it. Remember all of the smiles. Appreciate the time spent together. Most importantly, cherish the memories.”
Jarzyk worked for PNC Financial Services in Manhattan. He graduated from Susquehanna University in 2009. During his undergraduate years, Jarzyk was inducted into three national honor societies: Alpha Lambda Delta for first-year student achievement; the Order of Omega for Greek leadership; and Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society recognizing students who demonstrate superior scholarship, leadership, and exemplary character, according to a press release issued by the university.
On the “Help Find Andrew Jarzyk” Facebook page, neighbors and friends have left condolences. Peggy Randall of the Little Grocery store on Jefferson Street wrote, “We will miss serving him egg sandwiches and our hearts go out to all of those who loved him. May he rest in peace.” The page is located at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1392471697696665/?ref=br_tf
Funeral services planned
Viewing will be held at the Brenna-Cellini Funeral Home, 2365 Whitehorse Mercerville Road, Hamilton, N.J. on Sunday, May 4 from 1 to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. and Monday, May 5 to 9 to 10 a.m.
Jarzyk’s funeral is scheduled for Monday, May 5 at 11 a.m. at St. Vincent DePaul Church, 555 Yardville-Allentown Road, Yardville, N.J.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Visitation Home, a Catholic shared living residence for adults with developmental disabilities. The address is PO Box 11242, Hamilton, NJ 08610.
Reporter editor Caren Matzner contributed to this report. Dean DeChiaro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org