Krystian Bala’s novel was far stranger than fiction…
On a cold December morning in 2000, the mutilated, semi-naked body of Dariusz Janiszewski, 35, was found by fishermen, floating in the River Odra in Wroclaw, Poland. He’d been tied up, starved, tortured, thrown into the river.
Police had no leads – until, three years later, when a novel was published with a murder eerily similar to that of Dariusz’…
It was the sadistic way Dariusz Janiszewski was trussed up that made his murder stand out.
Feet bound together, bent back, and attached to a noose around his neck with a single piece of rope.
The slightest wriggle would’ve caused the noose to tighten excruciatingly.
The pathologist couldn’t tell if he’d suffocated this way before being thrown in the river, or if he’d drowned.
Dariusz had been reported missing four weeks earlier, by his wife.
He’d last been seen leaving the advertising firm he owned in Wroclaw.
A major investigation was launched. Scuba divers scoured the river, Forensics combed the forests, hunting for clues.
Colleagues and associates were quizzed, Dariusz’ business records were examined.
He had no debts, no enemies and no criminal record.
His wife admitted their marriage had hada rocky patch. But they’d reconciled, and were about to adopt a child.
‘He wouldn’t harm anybody,’ she said.
By May 2001, without a single lead, the investigation closed.
Press dubbed it ‘the perfect crime’.
Then, three years later – during a cold case review – an officer noticed Dariusz’ phone had never been found.
And, incredibly, the service provider managed to trace his SIM card.
It was being used by an unsuspecting man who’d bought it on an Internet auction site on 16 November 2000 – three days after Dariusz had disappeared.
It was sold by user ChrisB7 – an account registered to a man called Krystian Bala.
When the officer dug into Bala’s background, he found he’d recently published a novel called Amok.
The book was sadistic, pornographic and creepy. And as part of the storyline, the main character carried out a murder – with alarming similarities to Dariusz’.
I tightened the noose around her neck, Bala wrote.
He went on to describe the torture and murder of a young woman whose hands were bound behind her back with a cord that was then looped around her neck.
Was Bala using his own murder of Dariusz as inspiration for the story?
There were other similarities… The narrator sold the murder weapon – a knife – on an Internet auction.
Both Bala and his lead character had been abandoned by their wives, had a company go bankrupt, travelled the world and drank too much.
Was it just a macabre coincidence?
Detectives didn’t think so. One described Amok as a ‘road map’ to murder.
But the book alone wasn’t enough evidence to charge Bala.
Detectives hunted for a motive and found one – simple jealousy.
The year Dariusz was murdered, Bala’s marriage and business had collapsed. Yet Bala was possessive of his estranged wife.
Her friend told police how, in the summer of 2000, the two women had gone to a nightclub.
Bala’s wife had got talking to a man with long hair and bright-blue eyes. Dariusz Janiszewski.
Bala’s wife refused to cooperate with the investigation at first.
Until police showed her passages from Amok… The main character’s wife bore disturbing similarities to her.
She admitted going on a date with Dariusz during the time in which his own marriage was struggling.
They’d checked into a motel but, before anything happened, Dariusz admitted that he was married, so she left.
Several weeks after the date, she said Bala showed up at her home in a drunken fury, demanding she admit to having an affair with Dariusz.
He broke down the front door, hit her. Told her he knew which motel they’d gone to and knew where Dariusz worked.
When she later heard Dariusz had disappeared, the woman had said that she asked Bala if he had anything to do with it.
He told her that he hadn’t and, believing her ex to be incapable of murder, she dropped the matter.
Finally, in September 2005, Krystian Bala was arrested and, in February 2007, he went on trial.
The prosecution claimed that Bala’s novel contained details about the killing of Dariusz Janiszewski which only investigating officers – or the murderer – could possibly have known.
Bala denied everything, claiming details in his book were from Press reports.
But, as the trial wore on, evidence steadily mounted against him.
And Amok, which originally sold just a few thousand copies, became a sensation, selling out at every bookstore in Poland.
In the book, Bala’s killer gets away with his grisly crime. Krystian Bala wasn’t so lucky.
He was found guilty of the murder of Dariusz Janiszewski and jailed for 25 years.
Determined to have the last word, Bala appealed and won a retrial.
But, in what would be the final chapter of his story, Krystian Bala was reconvicted.