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“Vampire from the Zagłębie”. 48 years ago Zdzisław Marchwicki was sentenced to death

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The court called him “a man without a sense of humanity”, he himself identified himself as a “vampire” in a letter to investigators. 48 years ago, the court sentenced Zdzisław Marchwicki to death. The “vampire from Zagłębie” was to murder 14 women and attack five more. Before he was captured, the case of the murders was publicized in the press, and an exhibition was organized to help find the torturer.

Zdzisław Marchwicki was sentenced to death by hanging on July 28, 1975. The court found a 48-year-old mine escort guilty of the murder of 14 women and the attempted murder of five more. In the justification of the sentence, it was written about the “enormity of the crime” which “does not fit into human categories and imaginations”. As the court pointed out, Marchwicki “crushed women’s heads to satisfy his sadistic instincts, to satisfy his sexual urges in an inhumane way.” “He is a man without a sense of humanity” – it was emphasized.

The brother of the “vampire from Zagłębie”, Jan, who was supposed to order the murder of the last of the victims, but also persuaded to commit another crime, was also sentenced to death by hanging. Zdzisław’s other brother, Henryk, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for preparing the last of the murders and covering his tracks. Jan’s partner, accused of the same, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Marchwicki’s sister, Halina, who she accepted things taken from the victims from her brother, she was to spend four years in prison and pay a fine, and her son was sentenced to the same sentence for stealing parts from the workplace.

“Vampire from Zagłębie” and his brother sentenced to death

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From November 1964 to October 1968, 19 women were attacked in the Zagłębie region. Fourteen of them, including the niece of Edward Gierek, then the first secretary of the Provincial Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party in Katowice, died. The pattern was repeated: blows were delivered to the back of the head with a blunt object, always on the left side.

An announcement appeared in the press about a cash prize of one million zlotys (the average salary at that time was less than PLN 2.2 thousand – ed.) for a person who would provide information that could contribute to the arrest of the person responsible for murders and attacks on women. The case of the murders was publicized not only in the press. In 1970, the exhibition “Traces of Crime” was opened. Items that were supposed to help identify the killer were presented there.

Zdzisław Marchwicki (with a microphone) during the trial. In the foreground Jan Marchwicki.Kazimierz Seko/PAP

Marchwicki was arrested in 1972. The man initially pleaded not guilty – he changed his mind a few months after his arrest. “(…) Yes, I admit that in the period from 1964 to 1970 in Zagłębie / Katowice Province / I murdered many women (…)” – stated in the interrogation report quoted by Przemysław Semczuk in the book “Vampire from Zagłębie”.

On April 26, 1977, Zdzisław Marchwicki and his brother Jan were hanged. They were buried in one of the Katowice cemeteries in unmarked graves.

In letters he introduced himself as “Vampire” and “lovable Vampire”

Coming from Dąbrowa Górnicza, Marchwicki owed his pseudonym to two letters he sent to investigators before he was captured. In the first he introduced himself as “Vampire”, in the second – “dear Vampire”.

The case of the murders he allegedly committed became the subject of not only Przemysław Semczuk’s book. In 1982, Anna and the Vampire directed by Janusz Kidawa was released in cinemas, and Marchwicki’s character was also referred to in the TV series Kryminalni. In 1998, Maciej Pieprzyca’s documentary “I am a murderer” was broadcast on television. Several years later, Pieprzyca made a feature film of the same title, loosely inspired by the story of “the vampire from Zagłębie”. The Marchwicki case years ago was also described by TVN24 Magazine.

Main photo source: Kazimierz Seko/PAP

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