YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Bergen County Sheriff’s Officer Joseph Rybka took with him the pride of those he served as he lay choked by his own blood on a hospital floor, gasping through his final breath, on Jan. 7, 1979.
All of 32 years old and already a 10-year veteran of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, he was a proud sentry who protected others from the horrors of crime.
But while guarding a dangerous prisoner at what was then known as Bergen Pines Hospital (now Bergen Regional Medical Center), Rybka was suddenly and viciously attacked.
Stephen Perry was at the hospital after being struck in a shootout with Teaneck police. After he asked to use the bathroom, Rybka unlocked his restraints.
In an instant, the then-22-year-old Stephen Perry — who’d been wounded in a shootout with Teaneck cops — bashed Rybka with his IV stand and snatched the officer’s gun, pistol-whipping him to the floor.
Rybka lay defenseless as Perry pointed and shot three times at close range, hitting Rybka in the leg, chest and heart.
Perry was later caught — still holding Rybka’s gun — and eventually was sentenced to life.
He was denied parole in 2009, but he is scheduled to come up again either later this year or next year.
Those who know his widow, Patricia Rybka, and honor her husband’s memory want to be sure the Parole Board keeps Perry where he is.
Patricia Rybka is no ordinary survivor. She has campaigned not only to keep her husband’s killer behind bars but has obtained bulletproof vests for officers in New Jersey and met with groups of police widows, among other contributions.
Joseph Rybka was inducted into the New Jersey Police Honor Legion, based in Little Ferry, in 2010. Patricia took the oath of office in his name.
For the second time in four years, Patricia Rybka must go before the Parole Board later this year.
On behalf of her and her family, Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino, the sheriff’s office PBA Local #134 want to collect as many names as possible on petitions objecting to Perry’s Parole and demacding that he stays behind bars for life.
“As time passes the impact of this killing diminishes to the public, interest fades and the Parole Board somehow takes this lack of interest as a sign that [Perry] is no longer a threat to society,” the unions said.
“We must show the Parole Board that the murder of a husband, father, son and brother officer NEVER fades away. Only with your support can we accomplish this.”
BELOW: Petition opposing parole for Bergen County Sheriff’s officer’s killer
It can be returned to:
The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office
10 Main Street Hackensack, NJ 07601
P.O. Box 224
Elmwood Park, N.J. 07407
Must be 18 years of age
Sign the Petition only once
The union ask that as many petitions as possible be returned by June 14. They may be able to submit petitions afterward, but there’s no guarantee the Parole Board will accept them.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.