Author Krystian Balas 2003 novel Amok is more than a thriller, its a nightmare.
The perfect murder, no witnesses, no suspects and the case is closed. Krystian Bala is a Polish author. He penned the novel, Amok. Bala debuted the novel in 2003 and despite its intriguing warning For Adults Only, it did not sell well. However, the novel does eventually become a best-seller in Poland. Although Amok is chock-full of pornographic Oedipus complexes, bestiality and random sexual violence, the detailed narrative of a young womans murder raises the eyebrows of police because of the similarities between the actual murder of Dariusz Janiszewski and the books victim, Mary.
Dariusz Janiszewskis Body is Discovered
Janiszewski was a 35-year-old businessman who owned a small advertising firm in downtown Wroclaw. After leaving his firm on Nov. 13, 2000, he disappeared. His wife reported him missing, 4 weeks later, on a frigid December day, Janiszewskis body is found floating near the shore of the Oder River, which is 60 miles from Wroclaw.
Every Corpse Tells a Story
Police carefully remove the tall, blue-eyed, man with long dark hair from the water. The victims hands are bound behind his back, his feet are bent backwards and bound together and connected to the noose around his neck. This binds him in a backward cradle position even the slightest movement would cause the noose around his neck to become tighter.
The Torture of Janiszewski
Janiszewskis body is bloated, only clothed in a pair of underwear and a sweatshirt. Both pieces of clothing bear marks of torture. Knife wounds and livid bruises sustained through repeated beatings are evident.; furthermore, the pathologist discovers that there is no food in his intestines, which indicates he was denied food and water for several days prior to his death. In addition, although the police believed he was strangled and dumped in the river, fluid found in his lungs is consistent with signs of drowning; hence, he was probably alive when he was thrown into the river.
The Search for Clues
Scuba divers plunge into the icy waters of the Oder River looking for evidence, to no avail. Police question numerous associates, forensic specialists comb the forest and his business records are examined. Each effort offers no information as to who killed Dariusz Janiszewski. Despite a period of trouble at one point in the Janiszewskis eight-year marriage, he and his wife reconciled and were in the process of adopting a child. Police find no enemies, apparent debts or a criminal record.
Investigation is Halted Case is Closed
Six months pass, and the lack of evidence causes the investigation to be dropped. According to the prosecutors report, the case is closed due to a failure to find the perpetrator(s). Janiszewski family members hang a cross on one of the oak trees near the place where Dariusz body was found near the shore of the Oder River. The press dubs this murder The Perfect Crime.
Officer Jacek Wroblewski Reads Amok
Two years after the case is closed, an anonymous tip prompts Police Officer Jacek Wroblewski to read Amok. He notices that portions of a murder in the book closely resemble some of the facts as they relate to the brutal murder of Janiszewski: Facts that only investigating officers and the murderer would know.
The narrator, who is referred to as Chris B, describes the way the victim, Mary, is tied up and left to die as she bleeds profusely from stab wounds: Stab wounds created with a Japanese-made knife. Chris B mentions that the bloody Japanese-made knife is sold on an Internet auction site: Following his murder, Janiszewskis cell phone was sold on the Internet. At the time Bala wrote his novel, this fact was not common knowledge.
Krystian Bala and Chris B. One in The Same?
Prosecutors notice similarities between Bala and the novels narrator Chris B. Interestingly, Bala uses the nickname Chris B in his email communications, as well as when he travels abroad.
The Connection Between Krystian Bala and Dariusz Janiszewski
Bala denies knowing the victim; however, in the summer of 2000, Janiszewski and Balas ex-wife dated. Furthermore, the police were able to trace the sale of the victims cell phone to an Internet auction site. The phone was sold just days after Janiszewskis disappearance from an account registered to Bala. Moreover, on the morning Janiszewski disappeared, the victim, Balas girlfriend and parents all received phone calls from an individual using a phone card.
Who Was Dariusz Janiszewski?
Witnesses describe Dariusz Janiszewski as a gentle man who enjoyed playing his guitar and composing music for his rock band. According to his wife, he would not provoke fights and would not harm anyone.
Who is Krystian Bala?
Bala is an extremely intelligent philosophy graduate, his past is unblemished and yet, he finds himself accused of murdering his ex-wifes boyfriend. Witnesses state that when Bala and his wife of three years separated in 1999, he became obsessed with his wifes new partners and began sending her offensive text messages and emails.
During a New Years Eve Party (1999 to 2000), two witnesses overhear Bala verbally threatening a barman that he believes is flirting with Stanislawa stating that he has already taken out a guy like him with a rope.
Character witnesses testify that Bala becomes aggressive when he drinks, is prone to bursts of pathological jealousy and is frequently untruthful. In addition, during his marriage to Stanislawa the family was placed on the Domestic Violence Register, the Blue Card scheme.
Wroblewski states that he is 100 percent sure that Bala is guilty of killing Janiszewski. Bala spontaneously confessed in April 2006, however, he refused to sign the statement saying he was unwell when he made the confession.
Despite stating that he never met the victim, police search Balas bedroom and find files that contain information about Janiszewski, as well as a pen that bears the logo of the victims advertising firm. A phone card recovered from Balas room matches the phone card used the day the victim disappeared to make phone calls to the victims place of work and his mother; furthermore, the same phone card registers calls to Balas family and friends.
On a mild Sept. evening in 2005, as Bala walks through his parents hometown of Chojnow, he is arrested.
Conviction, Times Two
In 2007, Judge Lidia Hojenska admits that she does not have the evidence she needs to find Bala directly connected to committing the actual murder; however, Bala is sentenced to 25 years for planning and orchestrating the murder of Dariusz Janiszewski. Upon request, Bala receives a retrial and in Dec. of 2008, he is again found guilty and continues to serve his 25-year sentence.
A New Novel
As Bala serves his sentence, he works on his second novel, tentatively titled De Liryk. According to police, his new novel details the killing of another victim.
- Grann, David. The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession. New York: Doubleday, 2010. Print.