Transcript: 180. The Vampire of Kraków, Karol Kot | Poland

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Our cases have been researched using open source and archive materials. It deals with true crimes and real people. Some parts are graphic in nature and listener discretion is advised. Each episode is produced with the utmost respect to the victims, their families and loved ones. 


Warning: Today’s episode includes the murder of a child and may not be suitable for sensitive listeners.


On the 29th of September 1964, 86-year-old Maria Plichta was making her way to the church where she worked as a cleaner. She lived a modest life in her hometown of Kraków. After seeing so much war and destruction in her lifetime, Maria was content with her spartan existence. Her life was devoted to the church and working there gave her a sense of purpose. They never paid her any money, but she was thankful for a plate of warm food from the monastery next door.


On that Tuesday morning, Maria took a tram to Jana Street from where she walked to her church. She was unaware of the young man following her all the way from the tram stop. She went inside to start her day’s work when she felt a sudden jolt to her back. She turned around and saw a smiling young man, holding a knife. As Maria collapsed, he ran away.


A short time later, nuns noticed the small octogenarian on the floor near the vestibule inside the church. She was barely conscious but managed to whisper two words: 


“Young boy." 


At first, the nuns thought Maria had suffered a heart attack, or a stroke, but then they noticed the bleeding wound on her back. They took Maria to hospital where she sadly died the next day. Before she passed away, one visitor arrived at the hospital to enquire about Maria – an unnamed young man…


Who was he? The Vampire of Krakow terrorised the city for a period of two years. He was caught, only by a stroke of luck, thanks to a brave young woman, who acted when others in her position would have preferred to remain silent. The young boy’s name was Karol Kot.



>>Intro Music

In 1964 Poland had been known as the Polish People’s Republic for more than 10 years. Under Soviet rule, there was no private enterprise which means most citizens were state employees. The newspapers were state-owned and heavily censored. For the most part, everyday people worked hard and kept their heads down. There was a general distrust of local authorities and many crimes went unreported. 


However, in Poland’s second largest city, Kraków, terror was slowly spreading, as stories of a violent assailant emerged. On the 21st of September 1964, 43-year-old Helene Velgen entered the Convent of the Sacred Heart at Garncarska Street in Kraków. She knelt to pray in the pew next to a young, inconspicuous boy who was also praying. She crossed herself and then felt the thrust of a blade in her back. The nice boy, who was saying a prayer next to her, fled the church, disappearing into the crowd on Kraków’s streets. 


Helene was in such shock, and she did quite not realise what had happened to her. She carried on with her day and went into a shop on her way home. Only when someone asked about the blood on her back did she realise she needed medical care. The next day, Helena reported the incident to police. Unfortunately, they did not believe her story and did not file a report. Helene presented a medical certificate confirming that she had a knife wound on her back, but the police still decided the matter did not warrant an investigation. 


However, a few days later, police were notified of a similar incident. 76-year-old Franciszka Lewendowska was out shopping on the afternoon of September 23rd, purchasing aprons for canteen staff at her work. Returning to work around 1pm she became aware of a stabbing pain on her back. She felt sick and lost consciousness and fell to the ground. Fortunately, a colleague found her and managed to revive her. Franciszka was unable to get up due to a damaged nerve. After being rushed to hospital in the nick of time, she survived.


Franciszka was well-known in her neighbourhood for helping the poor by providing food for them. No one could understand why a charitable woman with no enemies was attacked on the streets. People theorised that that it might have been an anti-Semitic attack, as Franciszka was of Jewish origin. Robbery was eliminated, because the cash left over from purchasing the aprons was still in her purse. All Franciszka remembered was that the perpetrator was a young boy with a red school shield on his clothes. In those days, the red shield indicated someone was in high school or attended a technical school. 


Again, the militia did not think it was worth their time to follow up. Because state-owned newspapers only reported state-sanctioned content, nothing about the attacks on Helena and Franciszka ever made the news, giving the attacker ample opportunity to strike again.


Less than a week after the attack on Fransiczka, he saw 86-year-old Maria Plichta climb off a tram and followed her to the church where she worked. Once inside the holy silence of the church, he pounced, stabbing her with a knife. By the time the nuns discovered Maria, her assailant was long gone. She died at hospital of heart failure, still in shock after the brutal attack. Police could no longer ignore the onslaught of reports. The first two victims survived, but now they were dealing with a killer. 


The community was fearful of the knife-wielding attacker, and because of the lack of official information, rumours about the ‘Old Lady Killer’ soon caused mass panic. The killer struck women who were by themselves, two of them were inside a church. 


Even though that autumn was exceptionally warm and sunny, the streets were empty. Desperate to protect themselves, the ladies of Kraków tied pot lids to their backs to act as shields. They knew the attacker snuck up to his victims from behind and people looked over their shoulders all the time.


The militia had no idea who the attacker was. All they knew was that he was a young, dark-haired man, who attended school. They considered ex-convicts who had been released, or any other known criminals who had perhaps escalated their behaviour. But they could not find a plausible suspect, especially not such a young one. There did not seem to be a motive for the attacks either – he did not sexually assault his victims, nor did he steal their belongings. It appeared they were looking for a killer of the worst kind: a monster who attacked vulnerable people, purely for the sake of harming or killing them. 


For seventeen months, no further attacks were reported. The people of Kraków hoped that the attacker had left their city or had been imprisoned for another crime. But just when they began to let their guard down, an attack – far more vicious than the others left investigators speechless. 


Little eleven-year-old Leszek Całek went to a toboggan competition at the Kościuszko Mound in Kraków. Unfortunately, he was not admitted to the competition despite his skills due to his sled being damaged. Leszek was disappointed and stood alone on the side of a hill with tears in his eyes, watching as his friends competed. When the races were done, he decided to head home. He walked through the park still crying and dragging the jagged sled behind him. Suddenly he met an older kid with black hair. The boy asked Leszek what was wrong and seemed concerned as he approached him. But the next moment, the kind-looking teen pulled out a knife and commenced a merciless attack. 


Later on, the killer recalled the incident:


"I noticed a boy emerging from the fog ... I asked him something, I turned my head, I grabbed his neck with my left hand and hit him with my right hand. After the sixth blow I felt he was falling out of my hands." 


In the end, the 11 -year-old boy was stabbed 11 times in a frenzied attack. Each one of the wounds was so deep, any of them could have caused Leszek’s death. But to stab him so many times… It was complete overkill. The killer stood and watched the little boy die, then left his body in the misty, snow-covered park. 


Leszek Całek’s body was found by a man and, thinking that the boy had probably just fainted, took him to a nearby café where he discovered that the boy was already dead. The man took militia back to the spot where he had found the boy, but by that time, so many people had walked over the scene and it would have been impossible to isolate footprints. 


Police took the unusual step of publishing details of the murder in the media. At the time, the Soviet-ruled press hardly ever ran stories about murders, because they did not want to create a sense of panic. Authorities agreed that in this instance, especially because a child had been murdered, militia could use the press to appeal to the public for help. However, it could only be publicised in local Kraków newspapers – nowhere else in Poland. The report stated that the ‘Old Lady Killer’ was back, and that he had turned his murderous rage to children. Investigators finally relented and asked the public for help in identifying the young killer.


It was a long shot because the likelihood that people would report anything was slim. In the Communist State, people avoided any contact with police. If their information didn’t lead to anything, or if it didn’t lead to solving the crime, witnesses often fell under police scrutiny themselves and were unfairly accused of misleading police, or even of being involved in the crime they bore witness to.  


An atmosphere of fear enveloped Kraków once again. Parents told their children not to play outside and made sure they never walked alone. 8-year-old Małgosia P. [Má-goshia] had been home sick for a couple of days, and eager to go outside. Her mother finally agreed and said that she could go downstairs inside their apartment building to fetch the mail. The happy girl ran downstairs, down the hall to the wall of mailboxes. A young man was sitting on one of the steps and she said hello as she brushed passed him. Then she suddenly felt someone grabbing her tightly, choking her. The young man stabbed her eight times, then ran out of the building. Remarkably, the injured girl staggered to her feet and limped her way back upstairs. All she could say was that ‘some man’ had attacked her, before losing consciousness in her mother’s arms. 


Fortunately, hospital staff were able to save little Małgosia, who made a full recovery. She told police about her attacker and they knew it was the same man who had killed young Leszak. But that is all they knew. Who he was, or where to begin looking for him – no one knew. 


On the day of Małgosia’s attack, a taxi driver was passing by the scene of the crime. He clearly saw the young man leaving the tenement building and gave investigators a detailed description. Unfortunately, in communist times, taxi drivers were not employed by the state and authorities treated them with constant suspicion and made them feel like second-class citizens. Police were cautious to believe the eyewitness evidence, because if it were wrong, it could make them look like fools. To justify why they did not follow up on the information provided by the taxi driver, militia released the following statement:


"Private initiative is reprehensible and cannot deserve attention." 


Instead, the militia asked communist and government resources like medical doctors for help in creating a psychological profile of the perpetrator. The latter was a developing science at the time, but at a loss, they were prepared to listen. The one thing that investigators struggled to understand, was why the attacker turned his attention from elderly women to young children. 


Psychiatrists concluded that this person must be a young person with a high school diploma who has a profession which lets him use knives in everyday work, who knows human anatomy superficially, but is not a specialist. Which turned out to be very close to the truth…  


Meanwhile, police re-visited one of the first clues: the red shield of a high school student and checked the lists of absences of local high schools from the days of the attacks. It was a very arduous task that took forever because there were thousands of students, and all the data was paper based. Then they learnt about a student, who was an ardent ‘knife collector’, and who, despite teachers singing his praises, made a strange impression on the police. The boy was interrogated and his home was searched, unfortunately he was released due to a lack of evidence. He also had an alibi. 


But police would soon be back. They received the first real breakthrough in the case, when a 22-year-old student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków came forward with an interesting story. Danuta W. said that she was a member of a shooting club, and that the coach had asked her to look after a teammate who was two years her junior. The teenager quickly became infatuated with Danuta and quite obviously tried to show off in front of her. Once he tried to kiss her, another time begged her for sex, threatening suicide if she said no. 


Danuta brushed off his advances and did not seem to be affected by it much. Desperate for her attention, he increased his onslaught, opening up to her about his dark fantasies. Instead of being shocked or appalled, Danuta just listened. Frustrated with her, he shot at her during a training session at the shooting club. When they were on an excursion, he threatened to slit her throat, but Danuta did not allow him to manipulate her and told him that if he harmed her, everyone would know it was him. The club knew they were out shooting together and he would never get away with it.


Despite her calm composure, Danuta grew wary of the boy and realised that he was a ticking time bomb. She made an appointment for him to meet with a psychologist and he agreed to go. The psychologist found that the young man suffered from an addiction to masturbation, excessive interest in eroticism, and depression. The boy was prescribed vitamin B and it was left at that. 


Danuta knew there was more to his obsessive behaviour and when he boasted to her about being the person who had attacked Małgosia, she knew he was not bluffing. Danuta told police that the young boy they were looking for, was Karol Kot. 


Kot was born on December 16th, 1946 in Kraków. He came from a stable family, with his father who worked as an engineer. His mother was an activist in the League of Women, who, while doing her work for the society, looked after her little boy at home. They lived in a tenement house in a good neighbourhood. His parents doted on their only child and he wanted for nothing. The young Karol Kot had some minor health problems and it was reported that he wet his bed for many years. At school he was shy and quiet, a diligent student who impressed teachers. In elementary school, he had good grades and was an exemplary student. 


When he was eight years old, his sister was born and his life changed forever. He was no longer the centre of attention at home, and he became incredibly jealous of her. Later in life he admitted to punching his infant sister when they were alone. To spite her, he also harmed her pets. His classmates attested to this, and recalled seeing him being brutal with animals, kicking dogs and tormenting cats. 


Kot’s academic performance deteriorated in high school. Interestingly, the teachers were delighted with him and they could not have dreamed of a better-behaved student, but his classmates knew another side to the clean-cut boy. He was vulgar, and often provoked them. Sometimes he would punch a fellow-student in the stomach – for no reason whatsoever. It happened so quickly, no one saw it coming. 


Because of his aggressive and unpredictable behaviour, his school friends were afraid of him, and considered him to be weird. Kot always boasted about his collection of knives and other sharp objects. Sometimes he would carry a knife to school to show it off during breaks, imitating violent attacks. He feigned ripping open a fellow student’s body and slitting his throat, thinking he would impress other kids, especially girls. 


According to some sources, he had a child-level sense of humour and had strange reactions and outbursts of aggression. Because he wasn’t like the other boys, they teased him, insinuating that he was gay by calling Karol ‘Karolina’. He hated this, and the urge to prove his masculinity became overwhelming. This, he did by tormenting girls. Since the birth of his baby sister, Karol Kot was terribly disrespectful towards the opposite sex. He believed that girls liked brutal types and was only too happy to oblige. He pinched them, twisted their arms, tried to kiss them unconsented, and hounded them, asking if they would sleep with him. He glanced under their skirts, pressed them against the wall, and offered sex for money. Yet, he got away with it, because the teachers were still delighted with the diligent, smiling and soft-spoken student.  


Karol Kot was in his early teens, when he visited the countryside with his family for a vacation. One day, he was bored and started wandering around the area, and came upon a slaughterhouse. The adolescent was initially chased away by employees, but later, when he stubbornly returned, they allowed him to watch them while they worked. Soon they let him kill a calf, and hoping to finally scare the boy away, offered him a cup of warm blood. Instead of recoiling in horror, he drank the whole cup, liking it a little too much. Here is Karol Kot’s own recollection of that time:


“I went on holidays with my parents to Pcim. It was boring there, so I went to the slaughterhouses and assisted in killing the calves. I liked this sight and finally got a taste of warm blood. I drank the blood of a calf and a hog. Then I killed frogs, chickens, rooks, moles and calves. I liked to poke out the eyes of the birds, rake their guts and lick their blood. When I had the airgun at home, I would shoot books, meat that my mother brought to dinner, to test the energies and strength of the bullet. I used the knife well." 


He added: 


“At first it was a fancy, I really liked the profile of the knives… I collected them, bought them, replaced them, ordered knives according to my designs. I always carried them with me. I loved them and so I think it was probably my greatest love - love for the object. For me, the knife was a living thing. It was me.” 


At school, the knife-obsessed loner with the awkward manner always smiled if he heard stories of violence. He made up nicknames for himself, like Karol the Ripper, Bloody Karol or Pyrotechnician – which alluded to his deadly side-interest of arson. 


In his mid-teens, Kot devoted himself entirely to his two passions – weapons and killing animals. He was eager to further his knowledge of weaponry and joined a rifle club, where he could express his passion openly, and show-off his weaponry skills in a legitimate setting. He soon became the coach's favourite, who saw no flaws in him, and supported him. But for the young eagle-eyed gunman, it was all part of a larger picture. His shooting license gave easy access to the firearms to shoot birds and to walk around freely with guns and ammunition. 

His parents loved him unconditionally and dismissed these unusual interests, stating that he was simply interested in all things military. He read books on martial arts and weapons and bought custom-made knives. He always had knives with him and played with them in class, throwing it at boards and cards, piercing their paper hearts. Of course this was 1964, when throwing a knife in class was not the kind of taboo it would be today. 


Over time, Kot began to develop his secret murderous passions. Apart from shooting and expanding his knife collection, he added the study of human anatomy to his list of macabre interests. While exploring the knowledge about aortas, human heart and veins, he analysed how to kill quickly and efficiently. He made notes about what length of blade to use on specific body parts. In hindsight these methodical notes were all in preparation of fulfilling his greatest dream, which was killing a human being. 


Young Karol Kot belonged to the Volunteer Civic Militia Reserve, an organisation that strengthened the social order in communist Poland. His membership offered certain privileges, such as avoiding vehicle police checks and allowing access to many institutions. In an ironic twist, as part of his duties in this organisation, he helped the militia in the search for Leszek Całek’s murderer. This placed him, the killer, in the perfect position to access information about the investigation. 


Thanks to Danuta’s tip, police finally had a suspect. They set their sights on Karol Kot, but they did not arrest him right away. They allowed him to finish his final high school exam, NOT as an act of kindness, but because they wanted Kot to be of legal age in the eyes of Polish law at the time. Also, the thinking was: if he passed his exams, he would be deemed mentally competent to stand trial. Militia kept surveillance on the dark and twisted teen, making sure he would not commit another crime. 


Meanwhile they had to build a water-tight case against him. If there was half-a-chance that they were wrong about naming a seemingly upstanding young comrade as a killer, it would have caused an epic embarrassment for the state.


Investigators questioned the man who supplied custom-made weapons to Kot. By looking at the inventory of knives the young man owned, they were able to match knives to the injuries of their victims. This, together with Danuka’s testimony was the only evidence they had. And although Kot’s peers agreed that he was not a pleasant person, his teachers and parents only had good things to say about him. Then they found a teacher who was prepared to break out of the choir who sang his praises and admitted that he gave the boy a good reputation card to get rid of him. In his view the boy was a heartless sadist.


On the first of June 1966, the day after his final exam, Kot took a shotgun and ammunition into a forest, to shoot birds. Police were keeping an eye on him, and did not want to risk another murder, so they arrested him and took him in for questioning. They also searched his house against his mother's wishes and found his knife collection and tale-telling notebooks. 


Once in custody, 20-year-old Karol Kot calmly answered the questions, knowing that they had nothing on him. Investigators knew that they had to be swift in bringing charges against him, otherwise they would have to release him because of his affiliation with the Volunteer Civic Militia Reserve organisation. They gathered all evidence they had against him and felt it was enough to accuse him of two murders and several attempted murders. 


The people of Kraków were shocked to learn that a young boy like Kot was capable of the heinous attacks. A court-appointed psychologist later noted:


“When I was looking at [him], I saw a boy with a smooth face begging to put on a uniform and go to school. If I saw him on the street, it would never cross my mind that he was a dangerous murderer.” 


Kot’s parents refused to believe their polite son was a killer, and accused law enforcement agencies of charging their son, purely so that they could close the case against the faceless killer. 


Interestingly, Kot was in his element. He loved his time in prison. He said that he ate so well, he even gained a little weight. When the victims who survived his attacks pointed him out as the perpetrator, he laughed in their faces. One lady said, pointing to Kot:


"That’s the bastard who attacked me." 


The baby-faced accused calmly replied:


"I wish I drained the rest of your old blood." 


In the end, the police managed to break the cold-blooded Karol Kot. Once he started talking, he showered them with a rain of sadistic details and confessions. He walked the streets of Kraków with investigators, who recorded a video of him re-enacting the crimes. The young prisoner seemed to be having the time of his life. He smiled at the camera and eagerly posed for photos. As he played out his murders with a rubber knife opposite a female police officer, he hit her so hard that she fell backwards, and he was delighted. Kot, police officers and the TV crew moved from one crime scene to the next, and soon curious onlookers connected the dots. 


Crowds shouted at the boy, expressing their disgust. During the on-site visits, the militia inspectors decided to give the murderer a free hand, to show them what he had done. When he acted out the murder scenes, he addressed the camera operators like a director. 


"Here. Light here. I'll be stabbing now. Camera!" 


In the recordings Kot shows every detail of his attacks on the women and children with a smile on his face. It looks like he could taste the crime again. However, he was missing something. During one of the site visits, he was not satisfied. ‘Inspector, that's not it,’ he said. The officer asked what he was missing. ‘Blood,’ he replied. And then a dark confession came… Kot admitted to licking the blood of his victims off the knives and said how much he enjoyed it. Because of this, he earned himself an ominous nickname: The Vampire of Kraków.

Police asked the youngster why he stopped his attacks after the church killing of Maria Plichta. Why wait 17 months before he struck again? The smiling teen then revealed that he didn’t wait. In fact, he was simply taking some time out to experiment with other ways of killing people. He confessed to several acts of arson, as well as some attempts to poison innocent bystanders.

He visited a café and snuck drops of arsenic into open lemonade or beer bottles. He continued this experiment throughout the city. He was naïve enough to think people would drink from open bottles, but no one ever did. It comes to show that he was so young, and out of touch with basic social norms. He was focussed on his goal but didn’t quite think things through.


Kot’s sadistic fantasies deepened in that time. He began to dream about brutal rape and torture of girls who went to school with him. One of his female classmates recalled a proposal he had made: he was going to rape her and slice open her belly, pull her entrails out and wear it around his neck like a necklace. His vision also included cutting off her breasts, sending her head to her mother. The detailed, graphic description of his fantasies was unsettling to say the least. At first, she thought he was joking, but he continued, outlining how he would bring a change of clothing, because there was going to be a lot of blood. He also planned out the shipping of her head, saying he would use a bandage to carry the head in a box to the post office, then ask someone who worked there to write the address on his behalf. Thankfully, he was caught before he could make this fantasy a reality. 


Kot admitted that, after little Leszek’s murder, he enjoyed reading articles about himself in the newspapers. He even talked to a fellow student, with whom he offered to rape a girl, saying:


"I've already done it, and what about you?" 


Again, Kot was a strange guy with dark interests, and his friend did not take this veiled confession seriously at the time. Most of his peers saw him as a harmless outcast and a madman who was all bark and no bite. Over time, his mood also changed. He became depressed, melancholic and moody, throwing knives in silence for hours. Apparently, he even considered suicide. But the urge to kill distracted him, and became his driving force, his raison d’etre


In a prison interview with journalist Bogusław Sygit, Kot opened up somewhat. He explained…


“I was interested in what is used in war to destroy people and their welfare, that is: poisons, knives, firearms and the methods of their most effective use. I had a large collection of knives: all kinds of them, assembly knives, fishing knives and others. The militia took 17 pieces from me. I collected medical atlases and forensic textbooks, I studied the veins and the location of organs which shock causes sudden death.” 


He saw his lust to kill as a calling, proudly boasting:


"Suffering is beauty and inflicting pain and suffering on someone is a work of art. Not everyone can do it." 


He added that he would gladly volunteer to remove ‘undesirable people’ from the streets of Kraków as a service to society. 


Karol Kot’s trial began on the 3rd of May 1967 and lasted for two weeks. He remained calm and seemed unaffected by events. It was a big story: the court building was flooded with family members of the victims, journalists and concerned citizens. People exchanged admission cards so that they could see the face of the boy who had terrorised their city. When the technicians handed the accused a microphone, Kot was acting like a star during the interview, asking… 


"Can you hear well? Can I start?" 


A childhood friend commented on Kot’s composure during the trial: 


“I kept looking over at him when he was in the dock. He had this characteristic smirk on his face, which has made me so suspicious of him in the past. He also had this cold, glazed stare, which reminded me of some images of Hitler. It was the kind of look that said a lot: like I’m going to do this and that to you, and so, what are you going to about it then?”


There was, however, a sense of nervousness in the nonchalant and provocative behaviour of Kot. Sitting behind the railing, flanked by two officers, he kept turning around restlessly. The same could be seen during the medical examinations. It bothered him when someone was behind him. Remember, he attacked his victims from behind, so it can perhaps be assumed that he himself was afraid of being attacked. 


Polish doctors of the time had never encountered such a case, neither in literature nor in real life, and Karol Kot was a good subject for psychiatric research. He was eager to talk about his childhood, adolescence, and inspirations. He mentioned that he was familiar with the work of Peter Kurten, also known as the Vampire of Dusseldorf


He admitted that he had no idea what his parents were up to, because he put 100% of his time and energy into expanding his knowledge about weapons, military and the secrets of killing. He did not regret his crimes and as soon as he had attacked someone, he already fantasised about the next victim. According to him, homicide for pleasure should not be punished like theft, drunkenness and prostitution. He believed that he was neither a bad man nor a criminal, but a killer, what in his head it was a completely different aesthetic and moral dimension. He wished he had been born before the war, because in times of war he would have had the opportunity to murder for pleasure without consequences. 


His nonchalant comments aggravated the crowd inside the courtroom. They banged doors and windows, making their protests to his chilling statements heard. The parents of sis 11-year-old victim Leszek, tried to push through the crowd to punch him, but they were held back.


On the 14th of July 1967, Karol Kot, The Vampire of Kraków was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. When one of the judges asked whether he felt sorry for anyone, he replied: 


“Yes, for myself.”


On appeal, Kot’s attorney requested for the sentence to be reduced to life imprisonment, because of the killer's young age. However, the Public Prosecutor General submitted results from a psychiatric review, and the appeal was denied. 


Before his execution Kot said:


“I don’t regret anything. If I could, I would murder again. Suffering of the victims gave me happiness. I had grand criminal goals, and I deeply regret not achieving. I planned to kill adults and children.” 


Even in prison, the killer had no remorse. He was aware that he would be lost and that he would never be able to make his dreams come true. 


“One thing was fulfilled from my dreams, I wanted to be – and I was – the executioner of people, even though I was thinking of a greater slaughter, a real large crematorium. If there was a war, I would like to be the head of a concentration camp, I would cut off women's breasts and put them under the helmets of soldiers so that they would not put pressure on their heads. I dreamed of mass murders in gas chambers, roundups and the dismemberment of people. I wanted to murder all the women, except maybe two – my sister and my cousin. Unfortunately, I did not make it.” 


On May 16, 1968, after confessing to a priest, lighting a cigarette, drinking a glass of water and saying goodbye to his relatives, a calm and obedient Karol Kot went to the gallows at 6:50pm. 


As a convicted murderer, Kot had lost all civil rights and his parents were not told where he had been buried. The people of Kraków pointed fingers at the Kot family, blaming them for raising the devil, and releasing him into society. It was so bad that his mother did not leave the house for two years after his execution. 


Fortunately, most of Karol Kot's crimes turned out to be unsuccessful. The immature vampire turned out to be a coward who could only stick his fangs metaphorical into the hearts of old ladies and innocent children. According to prof. Krzysztof Gierowski from the Department of Medical Psychology of the Jagiellonian University, a criminal mind like Karol Kot’s only occurs once in a couple of million. He said:


“Half a century has passed and we still do not know why such macabre crimes arose in the young boy's head.” 


Which begs the question of motive: why did Kot kill? To him it was simple: killing for the sake of killing. This is what gave him pleasure. In his own words:


“The victim's suffering gave me satisfaction, but whether it was sexual satisfaction I do not know, because I have never been satisfied with a woman. I can only describe how I felt after the murder. I was calming down immediately, I was somewhat free, evil voices departed from me, I slept better, I did not feel the need to run after the victim, I was content as if I had received the expected gift. It was a moment of joy for me to wipe the blood off the knife with my finger and then lick it. I did it as quickly as possible. At the time of the crime, I did not think about punishment for myself, but about pleasure.” 


The feeling of power over life and death was the driving force behind his attacks. He did not have a specific victim or have a specific method. Because he was young, attacking older women and young children posed less of a risk to him. But if he was never caught, is victim profile would probably have changed. He was interested in mass-killing, it was about his desire, not who his victims were.  


The report on Karol Kot’s trial takes up over a dozen bulky volumes of files. The testimonies of witnesses and would-be victims still scream from the yellowed papers of the Krakow State Archives. When you look at them, you have the impression that you are reading a story that was born from the imagination of the creator of horror movies. Unfortunately – the dates, names and facts appearing in the files make it all too real. We are reading not about a legend, but about the true story of a sadistic young man who only killed for pleasure. 


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