Arnell Yearwood pleads guilty in Union cold case killing of Diane Zaleski
UNION TOWNSHIP - A man who admitted stabbing and strangling a Union Township woman in 2010 pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Tuesday.
Arnell Yearwood, 28, of Irvington, will spend 30 years in state prison with no chance of parole after agreeing to a plea deal that included admitting to killing 54-year-old Diane Zaleski.
Yearwood admitted to stabbing Diane Zaleski with construction scissors and then strangling her. The victim died from multiple injuries to the head and neck.
On the one-year anniversary of Zaleski's death, police released additional details about the slaying, hoping to revive a case with few leads.
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A Massachusetts woman who had befriended Yearwood on Facebook contacted authorities after she read an article about the case because Yearwood had mentioned some details of the murder during an online conversation.
Detectives had believed that Zaleski knew her killer because friends said she never liked to open her door for anyone she didn't know. They discovered Yearwood had lived in the house right across the street at the time of the murder.
"Often that happens," says Union County Prosecutor Grace Park. "The defendant is close by. We don't know it until we have the evidence to prove it."
Detectives say the Facebook communication, as well as DNA evidence from the murder scene, were enough to convict Yearwood.
Yearwood will be officially sentenced on April 11.