Serial Killer

Vlado Taneski – The Serial Killer You’ve Never Heard Of

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

Vlado Taneski was a Macedonian journalist and serial killer

Today we’re going to look at one of the most unbelievable revenge stories I’ve ever come across. But you won’t even know that it’s a revenge story until the very end.

Vlado Taneski
Vlado Taneski

In the early evening of May 7th, 2008, a 65-year-old woman named Saana Talosa walked around her kitchen inside of her apartment in the little Southeastern European city of Cevo. Cevo is a quiet place at the base of this huge mountain in Northern Macedonia, and while it’s totally beautiful, it’s utterly remote, and basically, nothing really of note happens here.

Živana cleaned houses for a living, but on this particular day, she was on a day off. So she was just kind of hanging out at her apartment, waiting for her adult son named Zoron to come home. It was a beautiful warm evening that night, and so Živana had the windows in the kitchen open as she walked around making herself something to eat. At some point as she was doing this, she heard her phone ring. So she grabbed it and answered, and she heard the sound of her friend on the other line. But her friend’s voice sounded strange. It was strained and very uncomfortable, and she was asking Živana if she was paying attention to the news right now. Did she have the radio on or the TV? And Živana was like, ‘No, why?’ And the friend would tell her that all over the news right now, there was this huge terrible traffic accident that had happened in their town. Unfortunately, Živana’s son Zoron, who she was waiting for to come home, was apparently involved in this accident.

Živana let out a strangled cry when she heard this and then just dropped what she was using to make food and turned and ran out the door. And when she did, her neighbor who was outside saw her emerge and yelled out to her, ‘Hey, is everything okay?’ And Živana, as she literally just continued running towards the road, she basically blurted out to the neighbor that her son was hurt and she was going to the hospital. And this neighbor watched as Saana just ran down the road, turned the corner, and disappeared.

Saana did not have a car of her own, and so literally, she was going to run to the hospital to make sure her son was okay. A little while later, that same neighbor who had just watched Živana disappear around the corner heard a knock on their door. So the neighbor went to the door, they opened it up, and they were totally shocked at who they saw standing outside. It was Živana’s son Zoron, who did not appear to be hurt in any way. But before the neighbor could ask any questions about this, Zoron, who looked visibly confused, said to the neighbor, ‘Hey, have you seen my mom? We were supposed to meet and have dinner together, and it’s just totally unlike her to disappear without telling me where she was going.’

The neighbor just stared at Zoron for a second, having no idea what was going on here. And then the neighbor was like, ‘Well, wait a minute, you know, Zoron, were you in a car accident?’ And Zoron’s like, ‘No, what are you talking about?’ And then the neighbor kind of filled Zoron in about how they had seen his mother run outside, and she had mentioned how her son had been in this car accident, and she literally ran to the hospital. Zoron was just as mystified by this as the neighbor was. And so Zoron just grabbed his phone and called the hospital to see if his mother was there. But when the hospital picked up, they would tell Zoron that his mother was not there. She had not been there all day. And two, even though they had heard reports about this car accident in town, there had not been any car accident victims brought to the hospital at all that day.

And so by the end of that night, when Zoron really had no idea what had happened to his mom, where she was, or, you know, what was going on with this car accident thing, he just did the only thing he could think to do, which was go to the police and report his mother missing.

Nine days later, on May 16th, when still Zabana was missing and the police had no idea what happened to her, there were no new leads, nothing. On this day, a 56-year-old reporter named Vat Taneski, who actually happened to live not that far away from where Zavon lived, he received a call from one of his police sources. And the source would tell him that Živana had actually just been found, even though this was not public information. And unfortunately, Zabana was dead. Her body, which had been beaten and strangled and stabbed, had been found wrapped up in plastic and dumped in this illegal dumping area not far from the town’s football stadium.

Vlado Taneski
Vlado Taneski

The source told Vlado Taneski that when her body was searched, they discovered she still had valuables on her person. And so that kind of ruled out the possibility that this was a robbery gone wrong, which was the initial theory about what they were seeing. However, when police had done an initial probe into Živana’s life to figure out who this victim was, they discovered that she was just this poor old cleaning lady who had no enemies to speak of. And so it really just made no sense that she was the victim of such an obviously brutal and intimate murder that was not financially motivated, at least not on the surface.

Vlado Taneski thanked his source for all the information, and then Vat’s source had sounded really shocked by this murder as he was telling Vlad. But now, as Vlad was sitting here thinking about what he had just been told, he wasn’t really shocked as much as he was suspicious. He felt like something just was off about this murder, you know? Maybe Živana appeared to be this poor old cleaning lady with no enemies, but in reality, maybe that wasn’t who she was. Maybe she was leading a secret life that got her killed, or maybe she had stumbled upon something she was not supposed to see and that got her killed. You know, Vlad had no idea, but he just felt like, you know what, there’s something off about this, and it needs to be investigated.

Vesna – Vlado Tanevski
Vesna – Vlado Tanevski

Now, Vlado Taneski had a reputation in town for being this very aggressive and kind of fearless journalist who had no problem diving headfirst into some of these really murky stories that could involve corruption or misuse of power. And he would get to the bottom of it and publish these articles where he spoke really critically about the government, about police, about anybody really who was in a position of power. But as a result of conducting himself this way over his 30-year career, Vlad had been threatened with violence many, many times for things he had written or things he was about to write.

But even though Vlado Taneski knew this Živana murder case had the potential to once again put him in hot water with the powers that be, he still felt like it was his responsibility to dive into this thing and get to the truth. So feeling determined, Vlad grabbed his notebook and pen and he walked out the front door of his house. And he made the several-minute-long walk over to Živana’s house. And when he got there, her son Zoron opened the door. And a few minutes later, Vlad and Zoron were sitting in the kitchen talking about what had happened.

Zoron told Vlado Taneski all about how he came home and discovered his mom wasn’t there. And then he went to the neighbor’s house, and they explained how, you know, they had seen Živana running off to the hospital to go look for Zoron. But Zoran’s like, ‘I’m not hurt. I didn’t get into a car accident. What’s going on here?’ And as Zoron spoke, Vlad took lots of notes and asked lots of follow-up questions. And by the end of this interview, when Vlad felt like he knew everything there was to know about Živana, he felt like he actually had a pretty good working theory as to what actually happened to Živana.

And the reason he felt like his theory could be accurate had to do with what Zoron told Vat his mother did for a living: that she was a cleaning lady.

Now, it took Vlado Taneski a couple of days to put together his story. He had to go out and interview dozens more people in their neighborhood. But finally, on May 19th, just three days after Savana was found murdered, Vlad published a story in the newspaper. And the story’s explosive headline read: ‘A Serial Killer Stalks Cevo.’

In the story, Vlado Taneski says that Živana’s murder was very likely not an isolated killing. Instead, her murder was likely linked to two other murders of two other women. And these two other victims looked an awful lot like Živana. Literally, they were poor older women who were also cleaning ladies. So that was why when Vlad was talking to Zoron and Zoron described how his mother was, what she did for work, what she looked like, that Vlad started to remember these other victims. And he put it all together. The other two victims were 64-year-old Mitra Simjanosa, who was murdered in 2005, and the other victim was 56-year-old Luit Lacosa, who was murdered in 2007.

Now Vlad’s story was totally explosive because what he’s saying is that there is a serial killer that is on the loose in this town. But this story was also highly explosive because Vlad spoke very critically about the police who were involved in this investigation. Specifically, he pointed out that the ’05 and ’07 murders of those two other women had been totally mishandled because arrests had been made in at least one of those cases, and clearly, whoever they arrested was innocent here. And so the police just totally dropped the ball, at least in Vlad’s opinion.

When the police read Vlad’s story, they were very upset at him because he was so critical of them. However, the police also did see that Vlad had managed to uncover a lot of new details from all of his interviews with witnesses and people in the neighborhood that did seem to paint a picture of this potentially really being a serial killer, not individual isolated killings. And so the police, based on Vlad’s story, would actually begin investigating a serial killer in their midst. They linked all three murders and began basically a new investigation.

However, at the same time, they began this new investigation, Vlado Taneski began to notice that he was being tailed all the time by police. He would be out in town doing his job, you know, reporting and interviewing people, and there’d just be a police officer standing somewhere in the distance watching him. But Vlad had anticipated that no matter what, he was likely going to face some sort of blowback from the police. And so he just kind of accepted that they were going to watch him and maybe try to intimidate him, but it wasn’t going to bother him because he had done his job. He had reported the story the best that he could, and if they wanted to watch him from a distance, they could do that.

By early June, so about 2 weeks after Živana had been found murdered, the police in this new serial killer investigation they were doing had narrowed down their suspect pool, which was in the hundreds, down to just three people. And they felt like they were very close to making an arrest. About a month later, on June 20th, so by this point Vlado Taneski is still being trailed by police all the time, but the police have not come out publicly and said anything about the serial killer case. They’re just continuing their investigation.

But on this day, June 20th, Vlad’s editor at the newspaper got a call from a police officer telling the editor they were about to make an arrest in the serial killer case. And as soon as their conversation ended, the editor called Vlad to tell him the news. But when he called Vlad, Vlad didn’t pick up, which was very unusual. Vlad always answered his calls. And the editor was also thinking to himself how strange it was that this officer had contacted him and not Vlad. Like, why aren’t you going to the guy writing the stories and telling him about this new development? Why are you coming to me?

The editor would continue to try calling Vlad several more times, but Vlad never answered. And so ultimately, the editor just kind of assumed that Vlad must be busy, you know, interviewing someone, or maybe, more likely, he had already learned about this imminent arrest, and he was on scene ready to capture in real time this arrest that was about to take place.

Meanwhile, on a quiet street in CBO, the police had surrounded this very modest two-story home that was very overgrown up front. It was surrounded by tall fur trees, and all the windows had heavy drapes covering them up. And then once the police felt like they had totally surrounded this building, a team of officers walked up onto the porch and knocked on the door and yelled out that they were police and whoever was inside to come out with their hands up. For a moment, it was just totally silent and tense. And then the police on the porch heard footsteps inside the house. They had their guns ready to go. And then the door slowly opened up, and this man who seemed very unthreatening and kind of confused stepped out onto the porch. The police immediately arrested him and took him away.

A few minutes later, back at the newspaper headquarters, Vlad’s editor got another phone call. And when he answered it, it was the same police officer who had called before to warn him about this upcoming arrest, except this time the officer was calling to say the arrest had been made. They had caught their serial killer. And then he told the editor the name of the person they arrested. And when the editor heard the name, he dropped the phone in shock.

The serial killer was Vlad. It would turn out that Vlad appeared very professional and calm on the outside, but inside he was full of rage, specifically at his mother who he viewed as this terrible cruel person. And after she died in 2002, Vlad became obsessed with this idea of getting revenge on his deceased mother. And the way he decided he would do that would be by killing random women who just kind of looked and seemed an awful lot like his mother, i.e., they were poor, older, and cleaning ladies.

His three victims, Mitra in 2005, Lita in 2007, and Živana in 2008, had all personally known Vlad’s mother. And so Vlad had actually used that connection to gain each of his victims’ trust. And then once he had their trust, he would lure them away to strangle, stab, and beat them to death.

Mitra Simjanoska
Mitra Simjanoska
Živana Temelkoska
Živana Temelkoska
Lubica Ličoska
Lubica Ličoska

In Vlad’s explosive newspaper story, he lied about a whole bunch of things just to throw the police off. Like, for example, he made up that he spoke to a witness who claimed to have seen Živana get into a car with two men right before she vanished. Vlad did not see that; that was just a total lie designed to confuse the police. Vlad had also been the one to plant that story on the radio about Živana’s son Zoron being in this terrible accident. You know, that had caused Živana to run out of her house and be vulnerable to be scooped up and killed, which is exactly what Vlad wanted. He had called the radio station and told them about this accident. And because he had previously worked for that radio station, they believed him without doing any fact-checking and broadcast the story. And so really, that whole radio broadcast was just a very intentional trap by Vlad to kill Saana.

But what ultimately got Vlad caught was in the article he wrote, he left in some really specific details that the police had not revealed to the public. And so basically, by including these in the story, it meant Vlad had an inside scoop into what was really going on. Like, for example, Vlad said that all three of these women who had been killed by the serial killer had been strangled to death by telephone cords that were left at the scene. But again, the police had not revealed that to the public. And so when they read the story, they actually became very suspicious of Vlad and thought he could be involved in these murders.

And so when Vlado Taneski felt like the police were trailing him just to intimidate him, in reality, the police were trailing Vlad because they thought he could be the murderer. And eventually, when they got a DNA sample from Vlad, it was confirmed that their suspicions were right; he was the killer. After Vlad’s arrest, he was immediately charged with two of the three murders, and the police were getting ready to charge him with the third. And they were even looking at a fourth victim potentially that maybe Vlad had killed as well, but they weren’t entirely sure yet.

But on June 23rd, just 3 days after Vlad’s arrest, he died in jail in a way that really didn’t make any sense. Vlado Taneski had drowned in a small bucket of water inside of his jail cell while there were three other people inside of that jail cell with him who all said they didn’t notice it happening. Officially, Vlad’s death was ruled a suicide, and after his death, all of the murder investigations were

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