Murder, he wrote

A Macedonian journalist branded a ”monster” over suspicions he kidnapped, raped and killed elderly women before writing reports about the murders died in prison on Monday, ending a gruesome saga.

Vlado Taneski (56), a long-time newspaper correspondent, committed suicide at a prison in the western town of Tetovo less than three days after being detained, police spokesperson Ivo Kotevski said.

”He committed suicide. He put his head in a pail full of water. It is unclear how none of his cell mates or guards noticed while he was doing so,” Kotevski said. ”He ended like in a horror movie.”

Taneski was detained on Friday on suspicion of kidnapping, sexually abusing and strangling his three victims, all of them elderly women from his south-western hometown of Kicevo.

Detectives believe the reporter — whom former colleagues now dub the ”Kicevo Monster” — also killed a fourth woman still listed as missing.

After the victims were murdered, their remains were cut into pieces before being dumped in plastic bags at various locations.

Police began to suspect Taneski after he included details on the murders that had not been revealed to the public, in his reports for the dailies Nova Makedonija and Utrinski Vesnik between 2003 and 2008.

As part of his work, Taneski had even interviewed the victims’ relatives and police investigators.

”He visited me several times asking me for information and talking about my sister as a journalist,” Cvetanka Licovska, the sister of one of the victims, said in Kicevo.

”I am insisting that the process be completed regardless of him being dead or alive,” she added.

”I’m really shocked about everything that has happened. It’s a shame that he died in prison. He should have faced justice and have been locked up for his crimes,” said Zoran Temelkovski, the son of another victim.

All of the victims had similar backgrounds as Taneski’s late mother, a cleaner who lived alone and with whom the journalist had a troubled relationship, according to police.

His DNA was found on the murder victims, whom police identified as Mitra Siljanovska (70), Zivana Temelkovska (65) and Ljubica Licovska (55), they said. The fourth missing woman was Gorica Pavleska (79).

Investigators also discovered hard-core pornographic material during a search of his house, reported Nova Makedonija, where Taneski once won an award for his reporting.

Upon being detained at the Tetovo prison, he ”neither confessed nor denied that he was the killer, staying cool in reaction to police questions”, police said.

Vesna Taneski, who had been married to the journalist for 31 years but had separated from him four years ago, said the couple had a ”normal relationship and he was not aggressive”.

Others who knew Taneski expressed shock at the developments.

”He was a very good, nice neighbour. We cannot believe that he was a killer,” said one neighbour who requested anonymity.

That feeling was echoed by Taneski’s former barber, who added that he simply assumed the journalist had police information when he talked about the murders while getting his hair cut.

Macedonia’s Justice Ministry said all evidence pointed to the likelihood that Taneski had committed suicide when he went to a prison bathroom at 11.30pm GMT on Sunday.

”He was admitted to the prison in good health condition without any signs of possible violence,” ministry official Jordan Mihajlovski told reporters in Tetovo.

”All indications did not show any risk of suicide,” he said, adding Taneski’s body was sent for autopsy at a clinic in the Macedonian capital, Skopje. — Sapa-AFP

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