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Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape - Crime reporter
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: 2005 - 2008
Date of arrest: June 22, 2008
Date of birth: 1952
Victims profile: Mitra Simjanoska, 64 / Ljubica Licoska, 56 / Zivana Temelkoska, 65
Method of murder: Strangulation with a phone cable
Location: Kicevo, Macedonia
Status: Killed himself by dunking his head in a bucket of water in the toilet at a prison in the town of Tetovo on June 23, 2008

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Vlado Taneski (1952 - June 23, 2008) was a Macedonian crime reporter turned serial killer. A career journalist for over twenty years, Taneski was arrested in June 2008 for the murder of two women on whose death he had also written articles. These articles on the murders had aroused the suspicion of the police, since they contained information which was not released to the public. Once after DNA tests connected Taneski to the murders, he was imprisoned on June 22, 2008 and was found dead in his cell the next day after an apparent suicide.


Vlado Taneski's journalistic career spanned over twenty years. Taneski was separated from his wife who he had two children with and had a tense relationship with his late mother. His father had committed suicide in 1990.

Murders and suicide

Taneski came under suspicion for murder after having written articles about the murders of three women in Kičevo, Republic of Macedonia. The victims were Mitra Simjanoska, 64, found dead in 2005; Ljubica Licoska, 56, murdered in February 2007; and Zivana Temelkoska, 65, murdered in May 2008. Police were also planning to question Taneski on the 2003 disappearance of the 78-year-old Gorica Pavleska. All these women were poor, uneducated cleaners, which was, incidentally, also how Taneski's mother earned a living. The victims had known Taneski's mother personally.

According to police, the articles contained information which was not released to the public. Differing from all other reports published in the Macedonian press on the murders, Taneski knew, for example, what type of phone cord the killer used. He was arrested on June 22, 2008 after his DNA was matched to the semen found on the victims. He was charged with the murder of two of the women and the police were preparing to charge him with the murder of the third. The next day, Taneski was found dead from an apparent suicide in his cell at a prison in Tetovo. He was found with his head in a bucket of water.


Macedonian Murder Suspect Dead in Cell

By Dan Bilefsky

June 24, 2008

PRAGUE — A Macedonian journalist who wrote vivid accounts of the grisly murders of three cleaning women was found dead in his cell on Monday after the police arrested him on suspicion that he was the killer.

In a case that has gripped Macedonia, the journalist, Vlado Taneski, 56, was jailed Sunday after publishing articles on the killings that the police said had details they had not made public and could have been known only to the killer.

Ivo Kotevski, a police spokesman, said by telephone from Skopje, the capital, that after the articles aroused suspicions, the police began investigating Mr. Taneski, who had been a respected journalist for more than 20 years.

They arrested him Sunday after his DNA was matched to semen found on the victims, whose bodies were found naked, wrapped in telephone cables and stuffed into nylon bags in different places in Kicevo, about 75 miles southwest of Skopje.

On Monday, Mr. Taneski was found in the cell he was sharing with two other men, his head in a bucket of water. The police said the death seemed to be a suicide.

In an article in the newspaper New Macedonia — with the headline “Serial Killer Stalks Kicevo” — Mr. Taneski wrote that one of the victims, Ljubica Licoska, 56, was abducted after two men approached her, told her that her son had been injured and then lured her to their car.

In an article for another newspaper, he faulted the police for implicating two men in the death of one of the victims, noting that they had been in jail at the time of the crime. “We read his stories and it made us suspicious,” Mr. Kotevski said. “He knew too much.”

The police said the victims were Zivana Temelkoska, 65, whose body was discovered this year; Ms. Licoska, who was found dead in 2007; and Mitra Simjanoska, 64, who was found dead in 2005. The police said they were still searching for a 78-year-old woman who was reported missing in 2003, who they suspect was also a victim.

Investigators noted similarities between the women thought to have been victims — all poor, uneducated cleaners — and Mr. Taneski’s mother, with whom he had a severely strained relationship, they said. All of the women knew his mother, they said.

Ognen Cancarevik, a crime reporter at New Macedonia, who collaborated with Mr. Taneski on the articles, said he and other colleagues at the newspaper were in shock. “He was a nice and educated guy who seemed completely normal,” Mr. Cancarevik said. “When the police rang me to say, ‘Your reporter is the murderer,’ I could barely believe my ears.”

Mr. Cancarevik said Mr. Taneski was separated from his wife and had two grown children. He said that he had a tense relationship with his mother and that his father committed suicide in 1990. “He was so calm when he was discussing the murders. All of these women lived only meters away from his house.”

Ljupco Popovski, the editor in chief of Utrinski Vesnik, another newspaper Mr. Taneski worked for, said he was an exceptionally quiet man. “I would never believe that he is capable of doing something like that,” he told The Associated Press.

Mr. Kotevski said that the police would continue to investigate, but added that with the suspect dead, “we may never know exactly what happened.”


The shocking story of the newspaper crime reporter who knew too much

Journalist kills himself as he is linked to four deaths

Helena Smith - The Guardian

Tuesday 24 June 2008

When Vlado Taneski wrote about the serial killer stalking his hometown in Macedonia, his eye for detail was such that the story was soon riveting readers. The journalist's inside knowledge of the brutal murders of three elderly women in the tiny town of Kicevo ensured that newspaper editors gave his columns prominence.

Yesterday the 56-year-old father-of-two killed himself by dunking his head in a bucket of water in the toilet at a prison in the town of Tetovo, after it was revealed he had been charged with the murders he had written about.

"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," said police spokesman Ivo Kotevski speaking from the capital Skopje. "In the end there were many things that pointed to him as a suspect and led us to file charges against him for two of the murders," he added. "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."

Of all the things which gave Taneski away, police point to his in-depth coverage of a story which is being reported as one of the most bizarre events to have befallen the two-million strong mini-state.

The three women were aged between 65 and 56. Zivana Temelkoska, Ljubica Licoska, and Mitra Simjanoska were each beaten repeatedly and strangled with a phone cable. Temelkoska was murdered in May, Licoska in February last year and Simjanoska in 2005.

They shared a common background in being cleaners, a job which Taneski's deceased mother had held for years.

Each of the three bodies was discovered wrapped in plastic bags and dumped and discarded around Kicevo, a drab town southwest of Skopje with a population of fewer than 20,000. The fourth woman, aged 78, went missing in 2003, and her body has never been found.

It was the ostensibly mild-mannered journalist's intricate account of the murders which led to suspicion.

But what made it unmistakable was his inclusion of details police had chosen not to release. Unlike any of his journalist rivals, Taneski knew the type of phone chord the killer used as his "signature weapon" - reporting, without attribution, that the cord had been used to strangle as well as tie up the bodies of the women; and, even more brazenly, he speculated about the chronology of the murders.

"On May 18, just after the gruesome murder of Zivana Temelkoska, he called and pitched the story to us," said Goce Trpkovski, a reporter at the daily Nova Makedonija.

"He was very quietly spoken but also very persuasive. As a contributor we published his story as the main article on the crime pages the next day - under the headline 'A serial killer stalks Kicevo, too' - because the murders followed a series of killings in Ochrid, although they were nothing like this.

"To tell the truth, I didn't believe the story - almost nothing happens in Macedonia, and suddenly we have two serial killers stalking our tiny country in a matter of months."

What neither the staff at Utrinski Vesnik, another newspaper that he contributed to, or any of his many friends, could also believe, was how a man described as "unbelievably low-key and soft-natured" was capable of such crimes.

Yesterday, his estranged wife told Canal 5, a local TV station, that she had enjoyed "an ideal marriage" with Taneski for 31 years. "He was always quiet and gentle. The only time I ever saw him get aggressive was when we were living with his parents," she told the channel.

As police released more details yesterday, it did emerge there was also a darker side to Taneski's life. A large collection of pornographic videos and magazines was found in his summer house.

And, adding to the fact the victims were cleaners, as was Taneski's dead mother, police noted all three bore a striking resemblance to her. He is believed to have had a troubled relationship with his mother, one which worsened considerably after his father killed himself in 1990.

"There is obvious symbolism in the fact that his mother, like the victims, was a cleaner," said Antoni Novotni, a professor who heads the psychiatric clinic in Skopje. "This is pure speculation - as he was never my patient - but one explanation could be that he wanted to be caught by letting slip what he did in his articles," Novotni told the Guardian.

"Perhaps he saw it as a way of resolving his inner problems, and getting rid of the burden which came with killing these women."


From a piece by Vlado Taneski, published in Nova Makedonija on May 19 2008

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.



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