It was 2008. A serial killer was stalking older women in the small town of Kicevo in Macedonia. Local journalist Vlado Taneski seemed to have an inside track on the story.
Three women had been raped and murdered. All were beaten and strangled with a phone cable, their bodies wrapped in plastic bags and dumped around town. They were between 56 and 65 years old. All worked as cleaning women. A fourth woman, 78, had been missing since 2003. Police suspected the same killer.
Taneski, a respected, long-time crime reporter, was giving his readers all the grisly details. One victim, he wrote, was lured into a strange car by two men who told her her son had been injured. He even knew the type of phone cord the killer was using to strangle his victims.
“He knew too much,” a police spokesman told the New York Times. “We read his stories and it made us suspicious.” Police arrested Taneski. His DNA matched semen found on the bodies. But before police could complete their investigation, Taneski was found dead in his prison cell, which he shared with two other prisoners.
The journalist-killer drowned in a bucket of water. It seems a difficult way to kill yourself, but police put it down to suicide.
Taneski had a wife and two children. Colleagues described him as mild-mannered and were shocked that he could be a brutal killer. Taneski’s mother, with whom he had had a troubled relationship, had also worked as a cleaner. All the victims reportedly bore a strong resemblance to her.
Although Taneski was never tried in a court of law, authorities are confident that he was the killer.