Murder, He Wrote

It is not uncommon for police detectives to, informally at least, employ the assistance of reporters when trying to crack a case. And it is very common for journalists to cover brutal crimes — even if the police would prefer otherwise. So when a serial killer struck older, uneducated cleaning ladies in Macedonia, it should surprise no one that the media sprung to attention.

And in the end, Vlado Taneksi, a journalist with two decades of experience, helped the police crack the case — in a way only a man with his experience could.

In 2005, Mitra Simjanoska, age 64, was found dead. She was sexually assaulted and ultimately murdered by her assailant, tied up and strangled by a phone cord. Ljubica Licoska, age 56, befell the same fate in early 2007. And in May of 2008, a 65 year old named Zivana Temelkoska joined the list of cleaning ladies slaughtered by a man who was quickly revealing himself to be a serial killer.

Not long after the death of Temelkoska, Taneski — the son of a cleaning lady himself — pitched a Macedonia newspaper on a story about the two of the murders. Recounting the facts shared above, Taneski’s reporting made for gripping journalism. Ultimately, it also led the police to the key clue used to crack the case: the use of the phone cords.

While police knew about the phone cords — it was present at the crime scenes, after all — they never released that information to the public. In a mistake worth of an episode of Matlock, Taneski accidentally (or, perhaps, subconsciously) revealed his knowledge of a detail only the killer could know. He was arrested and charged with two of the murders after his DNA matched semen left at the crime scene.

Taneski was never found guilty of the crimes, however; he committed suicide the day after being charged.

Bonus fact: In 1971, Tom Moore, Jr., then a Texas state representative, introduced a bill which honored a man named Albert de Salvo.  The bill, which passed the chamber unanimously, stated in part: “This compassionate gentleman’s dedication and devotion to his work has enabled the weak and the lonely throughout the nation to achieve and maintain a new degree of concern for their future. He has been officially recognized by the state of Massachusetts for his noted activities and unconventional techniques involving population control and applied psychology.”  Albert de Salvo is more commonly known as the Boston Strangler, a serial killer.  Moore was hoping to point out that bills are often passed without a true understanding of their meaning, and he removed the bill from consideration after revealing his ruse.

From the ArchivesThe Taman Shud Mystery: An unsolved mystery even though the likely killer left a note behind — one which we’ve yet to decode.

Related: “The Serial Killer Files: The Who, What, Where, How, and Why of the World’s Most Terrifying Murders” by Harold Schechter. 4.5 stars on 35 reviews. Available on Kindle.

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