In the mid-1970s, several extremely brutal murders took place near Poznań. The victims were young women.
It was nearing 4 p.m. and Lieutenant Relewicz was sitting in his office. His fingers drummed on the top of his wooden desk to the beat of the rain that had fallen since morning. In front of the man there was a pile of documents. Every now and then he glanced at the cardboard file folders, sighing heavily. – How do I get you, you bloody bastard? – he cursed under his breath. Once again he started going through the same papers. He leafed through them page by page. What did we miss? – he wondered. Suddenly the sound of the telephone broke him out of his reverie. He knew what it could mean. – Relewicz, hello – he said. – Where? – he said after a long while. – Shit, it must be her. All right, I’ll be right there – he ended the conversation. He got up, grabbed his coat and left the office with a quick step.
A corpse in the bushes
It was September 17, 1975. At approximately 3:30 p.m., the Municipal Police Headquarters in Poznan was notified that a partially naked female corpse had been found in the woods near the outskirts of the Poznan-Palędzie housing estate. Half an hour later, the place was crowded with uniformed officers. The police immediately began to examine the corpse. The victim was lying on her back, naked from the waist down, with her blouse unbuttoned at breast height. The woman’s legs were spread in a characteristic way, which indicated that most likely she had been raped before she died. Her wrists were tied with a rope, which was then hooked to a stake driven into the ground. There were many knife wounds on the body of the deceased, especially in the thigh area, as well as traces of cigarette burns. There was a large cut under her left breast. The examination of the scene allowed investigators to assume that the woman might have known her tormentor and willingly come with him to the woods. The items found there, such as alcohol bottles, cups, food leftovers, and cigarettes, indicated that the murder had been preceded by a joint libation.
Extremely long case
It was also suspected that the murder took place on September 15 because the ground under the corpse was dry, despite the fact that it had rained during the previous two days. Officers thoroughly combed the area within a 600 meter radius. A woman’s purse, underwear, skirt and a knife with rusty-brown stains resembling blood were found about 150 meters from the corpse. Documents in the purse indicated that the victim was 21-year-old Emilia Sadowska, a resident of a nearby village, who had been wanted for two days. – This is already the fourth victim – said one of the policemen present to lieutenant Relewicz, who was leading the investigation. – When will this finally end? The officer sighed heavily. No case he had investigated so far had lasted so long. – When we catch him,” he replied. – Give me the address, I’ll go talk to her family.
She didn’t come back from work
The young woman found in the woods was born on February 12, 1954. Emilia was the only child of Marian and Regina Sadowski. She didn’t cause her parents any problems, she was a good student, and had the opinion of a cheerful, smart, and good girl. She was always eager to help with the housework, relieving her ailing mother in many duties. After graduating from vocational school, she was employed in one of the largest industrial plants in Poznań. On September 15, Emilia worked the first shift. Usually between 4 and 5 p.m. she was already at home. Occasionally she stayed for a while at her friend’s house for coffee and gossip. But she never returned home later than 8 p.m. without telling her parents. So when it was 10 p.m. and she still wasn’t there, my father decided to go to Halinka, her friend from school years who lived next door. – Unfortunately Emilia was not at my place today. We were planning to meet tomorrow – he heard from her. – But don’t worry, Mr Marian, maybe she sat at some friend’s place in Poznań and missed her train – she added.
A really serious matter
But to his worried father these explanations were not enough, he felt a growing uneasiness. He knew Emilia, she had never behaved like that. Surely something bad must have happened. After a sleepless night Marian Sadowski took the first morning train to Poznań and went to the factory where his daughter worked. There he found out that she had not appeared at work that day. Then the man immediately rushed to the provincial headquarters of the MO. The officer who reported the missing woman living in Palędzie took the matter seriously. The more so because in less than two years there have been three atrocious crimes in that area, the perpetrators of which have not yet been apprehended. Asked to describe Emilia, Sadowski told us what his daughter was wearing when she left home for work and what she looked like. – Please bring a current photograph of the missing girl to the police station as soon as possible,” the policeman asked the anxious man. – And don’t worry, we will find her – he assured.
Regina Sadowska could not find her place or focus on anything since morning. Her feminine intuition told her that something bad was going to happen. Around 4.30 p.m. a neighbor came to the Sadowski’s and in a rather chaotic way started to talk about a dead girl found in the forest. Struck by a bad feeling Emilia’s parents decided to go there to find out more. They were just getting ready to leave the apartment when they heard a heavy knock on the door. Marian opened the door. – Good morning. Lieutenant Relewicz. Mr. Sadowski? The man only nodded, nervously swallowing saliva. – What about Emilka? – He asked. – I’m sorry. I don’t have any good news for you – answered the commissioner. Marian groaned and sank to his knees, hiding his face in his hands. Regina stood motionless like a pillar of salt, clutching her heart and staring at her husband. Her gaze seemed almost insane to the lieutenant. Relewicz often gave bad news to the victims’ relatives, but despite his many years of service, he was not used to it. He was sorry when he had to inform parents about the death of their child, in this case their only child. A lousy job, he thought.
He cut her with a knife
Emilia Sadowska’s body was transported to the Department of Forensic Medicine in Poznań. The next day the autopsy was performed there. Numerous abrasions, bites, burns, and cuts were found on her body, including a deep and extensive cut on the neck. The forensic expert stated that all injuries were life-threatening, meaning that they were inflicted while the girl was still alive. Moreover, the forensic doctor observed a wound on the body of the deceased, which caused the left breast, an incision in the buttocks and a wound running along the back, cutting through the spinal muscles and exposing the posterior surface of the vertebral arches. In addition, he found grayish contents and small vegetable particles in the vagina and rectum, traces of semen in the mouth, and the odor of alcohol from the cranial cavity. He considered the cause of death to be bleeding due to transection of the cervical organs, and put the presumed time of death at the evening hours of September 15. The presentation of the corpse to the family confirmed the findings of the police – the murdered was Emilia Sadowska.‖ The questioned parents of the victim completely excluded the possibility that their daughter had voluntarily gone to the forest with anyone and drank alcohol there. – It is impossible. Even if Emilka knew this person from childhood, she would not go. First of all because she did not drink, she abhorred alcohol and avoided bad company. Someone dragged her there by force and forced her to drink vodka,” the father said. Despite questioning the murdered girl’s co-workers and passengers of the train on which she usually returned home from work, nothing concrete could be established. The killer still went unpunished.
Less than a month later, on October 8, the corpse of 19-year-old Aniela Wlazik was found at the edge of a forest near the village of Pawłówko, which is located less than 40 kilometers from Poznań and 20 kilometers from the place of the last murder. The girl was naked. She was lying on her back and her body was covered with leaves. Her eyes were wide open and her pupils were enlarged. The victim’s legs were tilted to the sides, and a vodka bottle was inserted into her vagina. Like the other victims, Aniela’s body also showed a number of wounds most likely inflicted with a knife, as well as traces of cigarette burns. Most cut wounds were noted in the abdomen, breast area, and on her arms. The victim’s panties were found in her mouth. A specialist present at the scene explained that it was likely that the girl had died no more than two to three hours before her body was found. This was indicated by the failure of the precipitation stains to fully form, as well as the fact that postmortem concentration had not yet occurred. An autopsy conducted the following day revealed the cause of death. The victim died from the infliction of a stab wound to the neck, which resulted in the severing of the carotid artery. About three meters away from the body of the deceased, a woman’s purse, an empty cigarette packet, some candy wrappers, a pinkie, and a photograph of a 40-year-old man were found. It was suspected that it could be a fiancé or a boyfriend of the murdered woman. Lieutenant Relewicz decided to find him and talk to him.
He loved to torture
Stanislaw Mikolajczak was born in 1937 in Poznan. Since childhood, he caused serious educational problems, he was a weak and hyperactive boy. Already during his elementary school education, he was sent for treatment to a hospital for the mentally and neurologically ill. It was then that his sadistic behavior became apparent. He was often seen indulging in his own deviant games, torturing animals. His victims were usually cats. He kicked them, beat them, cut them, burned them, gouged out their eyes and cut off their tails. Although he studied poorly, he managed to finish seven grades of elementary school. Immediately afterwards, he appeared before the juvenile court for the brutal attack and molestation of one of his classmates. By the court’s decision, the boy was placed in a reformatory and placed under the supervision of a probation officer. However, the execution of the sentence was suspended for two years. Stanisław Mikołajczak came into conflict with the law again in 1958, he was accused of brutally beating a woman. He was sentenced to two years and three months in prison. He served this sentence until March 1961. A year after leaving prison, Mikolajczak married Genowefa W. Initially, the couple’s marriage went fairly well. Genowefa loved strong, dominant men. She did not mind that Stanisław was brutal and trampled her, also in bed. It is safe to say that in this case he found his match.
A sadist in love
Mikołajczak was a sadist, and his half was a masochist. It was not until six years after the wedding that the couple’s first child was born – son Henryk, and two years later – daughter Krystyna. It was then that the couple began to quarrel. The woman felt overworked and did not feel like taking care of her husband, who was always unsatisfied. Her life revolved around her two little ones. Stanislaw became increasingly frustrated with this situation. Finally, his sexual needs became so strong that one spring evening in 1971, he left home and attacked a girl he met by chance. He kicked his victim, pulled her hair, and threatened her with a knife. In this way he wanted to force her to have intercourse. However, he encountered strong resistance from the attacked woman, so the rape did not take place.
He was sentenced to five years imprisonment for this act. During his imprisonment in the penitentiary the court in Poznan received a motion to declare his marriage to Genowefa W. invalid. It was reviewed favorably. Mikolajczak’s files show that as a prisoner he did not cause any major problems. He behaved correctly. He conscientiously and willingly did the assigned work, was obedient to the guards’ orders. Such an attitude contributed to a faster release of the convict. On July 5, 1974, after serving two-thirds of his sentence, he was released. After leaving prison, Mikołajczak initially stayed with a friend. Two months later he met Sabina Z. The woman lived in the town of Buk, more than 20 kilometers from Poznań. At the end of October Stanisław moved in with her. Soon young girls started to disappear in that area.
Finally there is a suspect
It did not take the commissioner too long to establish who Stanisław Mikołajczak is. In a systematically updated database of ex-convicts he easily found the man’s current address. The file in which his crimes were recorded was surprisingly extensive. And here is our murderer – thought the lieutenant, looking through the file. The cop’s instinct told him that he must have found the right man. It was about 5 p.m. when Relewicz arrived at the house where the suspect he had tracked down lived. The militiaman knocked on the door. After a moment the man from the photo opened the door. – Citizen Stanislaw Mikolajczak? – asked the lieutenant pro forma. – Yes, that’s right – answered the man in a confident tone. – What does our people’s government want from me? – To talk to you about recent murders in this area – explained Relewicz. – I don’t know anything about it’, burbled Mikolajczak. – Maybe then I will say more clearly: a corpse of a young woman was found this morning. There was a picture of you lying next to her body,” the lieutenant noticed the man nervously grabbing his trouser pocket, his face reddening and dots of sweat appearing on his forehead. – Considering your troubled and uninteresting past and this small detail lying next to the body of the deceased, you become a suspect. Get dressed and we’ll talk at the police station – the officer instructed.
He had a bad nature
Mikolajczak was taken to the police station. There, during an interrogation which lasted several hours, he confessed to having committed five murders. The investigator noted his explanation: – When I got out of prison and met Genowefa, I believed it would be okay. But just a few days later, my evil nature kicked in. At first I fought it, tried to control my urge, my desire to hurt and harm others. I believed it would be okay. Stanisław Mikołajczak also confirmed his confession in the presence of the prosecutor. It was then that he told in detail about the crimes he had committed. His first victim was 18-year-old Zofia. The incident took place on December 5, 1974. He met the girl when she was coming back from school. He asked her where the nearest bus stop was. She replied that she was just walking in that direction and that he could join her, she would lead him. – I felt that I was no longer in control of myself. As soon as we were out of the city and near the cemetery, I threw myself at her. I dragged her into the bushes. There I raped the girl. During the intercourse, I beat her, bit her. She screamed. I blocked her mouth with my hand and then hit her on the head. She lost consciousness. That’s when I started cutting and stabbing her. It excited me to inflict pain on her. Finally, I stabbed her in the neck and cut her throat. That day was the first time I killed someone. I didn’t know it felt so good,” Mikolajczak confessed.
The killer’s remorse
After a while he continued: “I had a guilty conscience, so I didn’t kill anyone for a long time. However, with time I suppressed it and wanted to kill again. Then, in July 1975, I went to the lake in Dopiewo. There I noticed this girl. We talked for a while, her name was Helena and she was 24 years old. She was beautiful. In the evening I met her again and invited her for a walk. I was surprised when she agreed. By the waterfront I raped, tortured and killed her. A month later near Niepruszewo I met Zdzisława, my third. The detained man confessed that all but one of the girls had voluntarily agreed to walk with him. He came across Emilia by the woods and proposed drinking alcohol together, but she refused. – Then I pulled out a knife and threatened her. I said that if she went with me to the forest and drank vodka, nothing would happen to her. Otherwise, I will kill her. Even though the girl agreed to obey her torturer’s command, she died anyway. – I had the least problem with the last one. She was a whore, she wanted to make money. And she lost her life – added Mikolajczak with a mocking smile. During the interrogation, he confessed that he was planning more murders in the near future – because, as he openly stated, he liked it. His next victim was to be one of his close friends. Fortunately, police officers prevented him from carrying out this plan. On the basis of the evidence gathered in this case, witness statements, the results of forensic examinations, as well as the confession and extensive testimony given by the suspect, the prosecution prepared a 48-page indictment.
The investigation against the murderer west of Poznań lasted three years. It ended in January 1976 with the filing of the indictment with the Provincial Court in Poznań. Stanisław Mikołajczak was accused of five murders with particular cruelty and rape. On the basis of expert opinions, the court found that the defendant was not mentally ill, mentally retarded, or affected by lesions of the central nervous system. The doctors stated, however, that he had personality disorders in the form of psychopathy with secondary sociopathic tendencies, which manifest themselves in sexual deviations in the form of fetishism and sadism. The court found Stanisław Mikołajczak guilty of the charges and sentenced him to death by hanging on June 16, 1976.
The justification for the ruling stated: The convict is a man afflicted with deviations of a sexual nature (. ); the deviant sexual urge could be controlled by him because its strength is within the limits of the norm, and Mikolajczak is a man of undisturbed mental development. (. ) The court, in imposing the elimination sentence, had in mind that the degree of social danger of the acts attributed to the defendant was extreme and maximal (. ), therefore there is a probability that if Mikolajczak was ever at large, he could pose a real threat to others. The defendant’s counsel filed an appeal and then a motion for review of the judgment. The case was heard by the Supreme Court in Warsaw, which dismissed the motion, upholding the judgment in its entirety. On July 18, 1976, an announcement appeared in the local newspaper: Today, in the evening hours, the condemned Stanisław Mikołajczak (. ) will be executed at the Detention Center on Młyńska Street in Poznań. His body will be laid to rest in the Miłostowski Cemetery. Lieutenant Relewicz, reading this note, smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. It was the longest and the most drastic case he had handled.