ON June 23, 2008, Vlado Taneski, a journalist who was known for penning incredibly detailed articles about a killer stalking his hometown, committed suicide in prison.
In a shocking twist, police believe that Taneski knew so much about the murders because he was the killer.
Taneski ended his life by drowning himself in a bucket of a water in his jail cell shortly after he was charged with two of the murders he had written about so graphically. Police planned to charge him with a third murder, but were stopped short by his suicide.
His victims were Zivana Temelkoska, Ljubica Licoska, and Mitra Simjanoska. Police spokesman Ivo Kotevski said, “All these women were raped, molested, and murdered in the most terrible way, and we have very strong evidence that Taneski was responsible for all three.”
Taneski, police say, revealed himself as the killer with his descriptions of the murders. He appeared to be privy to information that only the murderer would have known. In his articles, Taneski referenced the exact type of phone cord that was used to strangle and tie up the victims, a small detail that would not have been released to journalists.
After a DNA test confirmed a link to the crime scenes, he was arrested.
Taneski’s victims had several similarities: All were aged between 56 and 65, and all were brutally beaten before being strangled with a phone cable. Their bodies were discovered wrapped in plastic and discarded around the town of Kicevo. All of the women had been cleaners, a job that Taneski’s deceased mother had for years.
Those who knew him said that he had a knack for finding crime stories. Before his arrest, his editors were impressed with his knowledge of the crimes. A reporter at the daily Nova Makedonija said that Taneski called and pitched the story on May 18, right after Temelkoska was killed.
None of his colleagues or friends could believe that he was capable of the horrific acts described. They reportedly described him as “unbelievably low-key and soft-natured.” His wife and mother of his two children, who had been married to Taneski for 31 years, told a local TV station that their marriage had been “ideal.”
But Taneski apparently hid dark secrets. Police found a large collection of pornographic materials in his summer home, and revealed that he had a troubled relationship with his mother. His father had committed suicide in 1990, leading to a further decline in his relationship with his mother. Additionally, colleagues revealed that, despite being a talented writer, Taneski had been let go from his staff job on a national newspaper, leaving him under immense financial pressure to sell stories as a freelancer.
“There is obvious symbolism in the fact that his mother, like the victims, was a cleaner,” Antoni Novotni, a professor who heads the psychiatric clinic in Skopje, told The Guardian.
Novotni added that, on some level, Taneski may have wanted to be caught. “Perhaps he saw it as a way of resolving his inner problems, and getting rid of the burden which came with killing these women,” he said.
Authorities believed that Taneski was also involved in the killing of a 78-year-old woman who disappeared in 2003. Her body has never been found.