Advice columns always suggest for budding writers to “write what you know.” That advice may have been taken a little bit too literally by a 20 year career journalist named Vlado Tanesk.
In 2005, when an elderly cleaning woman named Mitra Simjanoska turned up dead from an apparent homicide, Tanesk was the first to report on the case. He appeared to have information no other news source was able to obtain, and for that he was rewarded with front page status. Nearly everyone in his hometown of Kičevo had read the report, including the police.
Two years had passed since the report of Mitra Simjanoska’s brutal murder made front page headlines and still no suspects had been apprehended in the case. In February of 2007 a second elderly cleaning woman would be found dead. The phone cord wrapped around her neck would indicate that it was the same killer who had been involved in Mitra’s death, and again Tanesk would display his apparent unfettered access to insider information on the case.
Taneski’s vivid stories and eye for details on the cases made everyone in the area feel on edge. Who was this mysterious serial killer who had been haunting Western Macedonia and why had this person been indiscriminately picking off cleaning ladies – a job that Taneski’s own mother had once held?
Police became very suspicious of Taneski’s knowledge of the cases when he reported that a phone cord had been used to strangle the victims. Police had not released that and other minor details in the cases to the public and became increasingly more curious on why Taneski, a newspaper journalist, could have obtained this information if it had not come from themselves directly.
Two men were eventually arrested in connection to the first two murders, but the killer would strike again – a detail that Tanesk was quick to point out to the public.
In May of 2008 when the body of Zivana Temelkoska was uncovered, again Taneski was the first to report on the story. He writes:
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. Both women were tortured and murdered in the same fashion, which rules out the possibility that this could have been done by two different people. The Ochrid serial killer murdered three people [in 2007] but his victims were all street-based money exchangers and his motive was to rob them. 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. The latest body was found in rubbish dump. It had been tied up with a piece of phone cable with which the woman had clearly been previously strangled.
His details of the grizzly scene were so shocking that investigators had no choice but to focus their investigation on Taneski. The day after Taneski’s story was released police announced a press conference in which they told the public that they had captured the serial killer. Taneski rushed off to his office in order to get a story together, but was met by police. He was arrested onsite, to the shock of his co-workers who described Tanesk as gentle and soft-spoken.
Police finally had their man, but not for long. In June of 2008 guards found Tanesk dead in his cell, head first in a bucket of water. Police ruled his death a suicide, but that cause of death has since been disputed.
Though he spoke of the murders, no one is certain what drove Taneski to kill the elderly cleaning women who lived within several meters from his home. Some speculate that his strained relationship with his mother may have played a key role in how he chose his victims.
Whatever his reasons may have been, the country of Macedonia can now live in peace knowing that their worst monster is dead and buried, never to return again.