true crime

Journalist Vlado Taneski reported on a series of grisly murders. He was the killer.

The town of Kicevo, Macedonia, has a population of just under 30,000 people.

In the 2000s, the small European township was the hunting ground of a serial killer, dubbed the “Kicevo monster” by the country’s biggest newspaper.

Across four years, the bodies of three elderly women were found brutally murdered – all raped, beaten and strangled with a piece of phone cable. Their naked bodies were wrapped in nylon bags and dumped.

WATCH: Murder He Wrote: Vlado Taneski. Post continues after video.

Video via Evil Up Close

64-year-old Mitra Simjanoska was found in 2005, 56-year-old Ljubica Licoska was discovered in 2007, and Zivana Temelkoska, 65, in 2008.

The women were all poor, uneducated cleaners.

A fourth woman, 78-year-old Gorica Pavleska, who disappeared in 2003, was thought by police to be the killer’s first victim, but her body was never recovered.

On May 18, 2008, a local journalist by the name of Vlado Taneski called Nova Makedonija, Macedonia’s oldest daily newspaper and pitched the story, suggesting that he thought the murders were all linked.

The mild mannered 56-year-old father-of-two, had been a respected member of the industry for two decades, and wanted to write about the suspected serial killer stalking his hometown.

The next day his story was published as the feature in the national crime pages.

SIDENOTE: Have you listened to our true crime podcast? Post continues after podcast.

“The people of Kicevo live in fear after another butchered body has been found in the town. The corpse strongly resembles one discovered 20 kilometres outside Kicevo last year and there is a possibility that these monstrous murders are the work of a serial killer,” he wrote.

“The motive of the Kicevo monster remains unclear. Both women were friends and living in the same part of town. Police have a few suspects who they are interrogating,” he continued.

The story gripped the country, and so Taneski kept covering it. He wrote intricate details of the crimes, speaking to family of the victims and covering the arrest and trial of two men accused of killing one of the women.

In one article, he accused the police of wrongdoing, pointing out that the men had been in prison at the time of the murder.

But it was the inside knowledge the journalist had about things like the exact type of phone cord used in the murders, the fact that it had been left at the scene, and the chronology of the deaths that caught the police’s attention. Taneski knew things that police had deliberately chosen not to reveal.

ADVERTISEMENT
Journalist turned killer
Taneski knew things about the murders that police hadn't released. Image: YouTube.

On June 22, 2018, Taneski was arrested.

“We read his stories and it made us suspicious. He knew too much," police spokesman, Ivo Kotevski told the New York Times.

His semen was a match for that found on one of the victims and according to authorities, several pieces of evidence found at his home linked him to the crimes.

He refused to cooperate or answer questions, and didn't even ask for a lawyer as he became the centre of his own exclusive crime story.

As the story unravelled it was revealed that Taneski's estranged mother was a cleaner, and in fact bore a resemblance to the victims, all of whom lived within metres of the journalist's own home.

While his estranged wife of 31 years told Canal 5 - a local TV station - that she had enjoyed an "ideal marriage" with a "quiet and gentle" man, she revealed that the only time she saw him get aggressive was when they were living with his parents.

His relationship with his mum had worsened significantly after the death of his father by suicide in 1990.

His colleagues told the Times the arrest left them shocked.

"He was a nice and educated guy who seemed completely normal. When the police rang me to say, ‘Your reporter is the murderer,’ I could barely believe my ears," one of the paper's crime reporters said.

A few days after being taken into custody, Taneski was found in the cell he was sharing with two other men, with his head in a bucket of water. A note under the pillow of his prison bunk read, "I did not commit these murders."

Police ruled his death a suicide.

"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," police spokesman Ivo Kotevski said, as reported by The Guardian.

"We were close to charging him with a third murder, and hoped he would give us details of a fourth woman who disappeared in 2003 - because we believe he was involved in that case, too," he said.

Kotevski mused at the time, that with Taneski now gone, they would never truly know exactly what happened.

Feature image: EPA/police handout/AAP.

00:00 / ???