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Krystian BALA





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Jealousy - Suspect that the victim was sleeping with his ex-wife
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 13, 2000
Date of arrest: 2005
Date of birth: 1973
Victim profile: Dariusz Janiszewski, 35
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Wroclaw, Poland
Status: Sentenced to 25 years in prison on September 5, 2007. Resentenced in December 2008

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Krystian Bala (born 1973) is a Polish writer and photographer. In 2007, Bala was sentenced to jail for 25 years for planning and committing the murder of Dariusz Janiszewski, a Polish small business owner, in Wrocław in 2000.

For a number of years the Wrocław police had failed to solve the murder, until a detective found some physical clues linking the murder to Bala. More sensationally, clues to the killing were found in Bala's first novel Amok (2003), published several years after Janiszewski's killing. It was as if Bala had written a "fictional" version of the real-life killing into his novel, using information only the killer could have known. The case drew widespread media coverage in Poland and resulted in increased sales of the novel as readers looked for clues in the novel to the real-life events of Janiszewski's killing.

In 2007, while Bala stayed in prison, an appeals court ordered a retrial of the case. In December 2008, Bala had a new trial and was again found guilty and continued to serve a twenty-five year sentence. Bala is working on a second novel tentatively titled De Liryk. Police report evidence found on his computer of plans for killing a new victim to tie in with his second novel.

The case was the subject of a 2008 investigative article by David Grann in The New Yorker, called "True Crime", later published in The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession (2010). In 2010, Grann's article was optioned to be made into a movie by Focus Films.


Polish author jailed over killing he used as plot

Pole orchestrated murder of suspected love rival
Police stumped until they read gruesome thriller

Ian Traynor in Warsaw - The Guardian

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Polish pulp fiction writer was sentenced to 25 years in jail yesterday for his role in a grisly case of abduction, torture and murder, a crime that he then used for the plot of a bestselling thriller.

In a remarkable case that has gripped Poland for months, Krystian Bala, a writer of blood-curdling fiction, was found guilty of orchestrating the murder seven years ago of a Wroclaw businessman, Dariusz Janiszewski, in a crime of passion brought on by the suspicion that the victim was sleeping with his ex-wife.

In the novel, the villain gets away with kidnapping, mutilating and murdering a young woman.

In real life, however, Bala got his comeuppance, even though it was seven years after the disappearance of the advertising executive whose murder confounded detectives until they read the book.

The killing of Janiszewski was one of the most gruesome cases to come before a Polish court in years, with the "Murder, He Wrote" sub-plot unfolding in the district court in Wroclaw and keeping the country spellbound.

Janiszewski, said to have been having an affair with Bala's ex-wife, was scooped out of the river Oder near Wroclaw in south-west Poland by fishermen in December 2000, four weeks after going missing.

The police tests revealed that he was stripped almost naked and tortured. His wrists had been bound behind his back and tied to a noose around his neck before he was dumped in the river.

The police had little to go on. Within six months, Commissar Jacek Wroblewski, leading the investigation, dropped the case. It remained closed for five years despite the publication in 2003 of the potboiler Amok, by Bala, a gory tale about a bunch of bored sadists, with the narrator, Chris, recounting the murder of a young woman. The details of the murder matched those of Janiszewski almost exactly.

Bala, who used the first name Chris on his frequent jaunts abroad, was arrested in 2005 after Commissar Wroblewski received a tip-off about the "perfect crime" and was advised to read the thriller. But Bala was released after three days for insufficient evidence, despite the commissar's conviction that he had his villain. When further evidence came to light, Bala was re-arrested. The case against him, however, remained circumstantial.

Police uncovered evidence that Bala had known the dead man, had telephoned him around the time of his disappearance and had then sold the dead man's mobile phone on the internet within days of the murder.

When Poland's television equivalent of Crimewatch aired details of the case in an attempt to generate fresh police leads, the programme's website received messages from various places in the far east, places that Bala, a keen scuba diver, was discovered to have been visiting at the time of the messages.

All along, Bala protested his innocence, insisting that he derived the details for the Amok thriller from media reports of the Janiszewski murder.

Sentencing Bala to 25 years' jail yesterday, Judge Lidia Hojenska admitted that he could not be found directly guilty of carrying out the murder. But the evidence sufficed to find him guilty of planning and orchestrating the crime. "The evidence gathered gives sufficient basis to say that Krystian Bala committed the crime of leading the killing of Dariusz Janiszewski," she said.

The court heard expert and witness evidence that Bala was a control freak, eager to show off his intelligence, "pathologically jealous" and inclined to sadism. "He was pathologically jealous of his wife," said Judge Hojenska. "He could not allow his estranged wife to have ties with another man."

His lawyer said yesterday that Bala would appeal against the verdict and sentence.

Stranger than Fiction

William Burroughs' accidental killing of his wife Joan while attempting to shoot a glass off her head was later documented in his novel Queer. He wrote: "I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would have never become a writer but for Joan's death."

Thirteen years after OJ Simpson's acquittal for the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman, his controversial account of how he would have committed the crime was published. In a chapter entitled The Night in Question, Simpson describes his confrontation with Goldman, "Then something went horribly wrong, and I know what happened, but I can't tell you exactly how."

In 2001 the son of author Errol Trzebinski was murdered in a similar manner to that described in her book The Life and Death of Lord Erroll. She believes the killing was a warning against an investigation she was conducting into the suspicious death of the 22nd Earl of Erroll, whom she believes was killed by the British intelligence services.


Polish Murder Stranger Than Fiction

By Andrew Purvis -

Thursday, Sep. 06, 2007

In his debut 2003 novel Amok, Polish author Krystian Bala describes the torture and murder of a young woman whose hands are bound behind her back with a cord that is then looped to form a noose around her neck. According to a judge's ruling this week in the western Polish city of Wroclaw, Bala was drawing not on his imagination for that scene, but on his own experience.

The author, 34, has been sentenced to 25 years in jail for having a role in the murder of a Polish businessman whose body was discovered in the river Oder with a cord binding his hands behind his back that was also looped into a noose around his neck. "The evidence gathered gives sufficient basis to say that Krystian Bala committed the crime of leading the killing," the judge, Lidia Hojenska, told a packed courtroom. She added: "There are certain shared characteristics between the book's narrator and the author."

Prosecutor Liliana Lukasiewicz told TIME that the sentence, in her view, fits the crime. "We are satisfied," she said. Bala, who has protested his innocence and who contends that the details in his book were gleaned from press reports, is planning to appeal, according to his lawyer.

The verdict caps months of intense speculation in Poland about Bala's role in one of the grisliest murder cases in recent memory. The body of the victim, Dariusz Janiszewski, showing signs of torture, was discovered by fishermen in the river Oder four weeks after he went missing in 2000. But police were unable to make progress in their investigation, and six months later they shelved the case. The publication of Amok, a sex-driven potboiler about a group of sadists recounting their exploits and taunting police revived speculation about the murder. But it was another two years before an anonymous tip-off about the contents of the book prompted police to reopen their investigation.

In their arguments, prosecutors said that Janiszewski was believed to be seeing Bala's ex-wife at the time of the businessman's disappearance. (Bala has denied knowing him.) They also noted similarities between the character Chris in the novel, and the author, who also goes by that nickname while traveling abroad and in email communications. In addition, police traced the sale of the victim's mobile phone on an Internet auction site four days after his disappearance to an account registered to Bala. And they said that a phone card was used to place calls to the victim on the morning of his disappearance as well as to Bala's girlfriend and parents.

In Amok, which has turned out to be a best-seller in Poland, Chris is never caught and gets away with murder. Fiction imitated life, it would seem, but only so far.


Murder, he wrote: Polish author convicted

Similarity to grisly work of pulp fiction led police to arrest writer for killing

The Associated Press - Sept. 5, 2007

WROCLAW, Poland - Fishermen dragged the dead man's body hands bound behind his back and tied to a noose around his neck from the cold waters of the Oder River in Poland in December 2000.

Police struggled to dig up any clues until a tip five years later led them to a novel with an eerily similar murder and its author, Krystian Bala, who suspected the victim of having an affair with his estranged wife.

The killer in Bala's alcohol- and sex-fueled "Amok" gets away with his grisly crime. But on Wednesday, a court in Wroclaw sentenced Bala to 25 years in prison for planning and directing the murder of Dariusz Janiszewski.

The case fueled intense media interest in Poland TV crews and journalists crowded the courtroom Wednesday largely because of the 2003 novel, in which the narrator, Chris, fatally stabs a woman named Mary after binding her hands behind her back and running the rope to a noose around her neck.

"The evidence gathered gives sufficient basis to say that Krystian Bala committed the crime of leading the killing of Dariusz Janiszewski," Judge Lidia Hojenska said. "He was the initiator of the murder; his role was leading and planning it."

Hojenska said it was not clear who actually did the killing and who might have aided Bala in the crime, but the evidence overwhelmingly pointed to Bala's involvement in the events that led to Janiszewski's disappearance.

Dressed in a blue pinstriped sports coat, muted yellow tie and thin wire glasses, the 34-year-old Bala stood stone-faced between two policemen as the judge read the verdict. Bala showed no emotion, but occasionally glanced at his mother, who sat in the back of the courtroom.

His family and lawyer said they planned to appeal.

"Justice was served, but the verdict will never be adequate to the crime," said Janiszewski's father, Tadeusz, who caressed a photo of his son on the table in front of him. "It's tough to talk about being happy with it because nothing will bring my son back."

Body found with signs of torture

Janiszewski's body stripped to a shirt and underwear was discovered in the Oder River on Dec. 10, 2000. His body showed signs of starvation and torture.

Police quickly identified the victim as Janiszewski, the owner of a local advertising agency who had disappeared four weeks earlier. But authorities struggled to solve the case and abandoned it after six months.

Five years later, a tip led them to Bala's novel, and the similarities between the fictional and real-life murders. The shared traits aroused investigators' suspicions, although the parallels were not part of the court case.

The judge said Bala was driven by jealousy to kill Janiszewski, whom Bala suspected of having an affair with his estranged wife. Prosecutors said Janiszewski and Bala's wife had become friends, and spent a night together in a Wroclaw hotel in the fall of 2000.

Wife seen as 'property'

"He was pathologically jealous of his wife," the judge said. "He could not allow his estranged wife, whom he treated as property, to have ties with another man."

Hojenska said a host of circumstantial evidence led to the verdict.

While Bala maintained he had never met or talked to Janiszewski, police tracked down a phone card used to make calls from a public phone to Janiszewski's office and then to his cell phone the morning he disappeared.

Calls were made the same day using the same card to Bala's girlfriend and to his parents.

Prosecutors also said someone using Bala's account on an Internet auction site sold Janiszewski's cell phone four days after he disappeared. Bala could not explain that.

International help

In 2003, a Polish TV show broadcast a segment on Janiszewski's murder. Soon after the clip aired, the program's Web site dedicated to the case received hits from computers in Singapore, South Korea and Japan. Prosecutors say Bala was visiting those countries on those dates.

Then, during questioning by prosecutors in April 2006, Bala confessed to killing Janiszewski, only to immediately retract his statement and suffer a fainting spell. A doctor was called and declared there was nothing physically wrong with Bala. Since then, the author has not spoken to prosecutors.

The court also noted that a psychological assessment found Bala had "sadistic tendencies" and a need to demonstrate superiority. Experts said the narrator-killer in his book bears a psychological resemblance to Bala.

"Amok" is a work of pulp fiction set in Paris and Mexico, narrated by a young translator who moves from one sexual conquest to another, killing one of his lovers, Mary.

"There are certain similar characteristics between the book's narrator and the author shared psychological characteristics, life experiences, studying philosophy, parties, travel," the judge said Wednesday, while noting there were also differences between the fictional and the actual crimes.

The most glaring difference: In the book, the narrator gets away with murder.



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