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Welcome to the Murder Mile UK True-Crime Podcast and audio guided walk of London's most infamous and often forgotten murder cases, all set within and beyond the West End.
EPISODE EIGHTY-FOUR: Today’s episode is the final part about the brutal murder of Katerina Koneva; by pure luck her killer had been caught, and what seemed like a one-off attack led to “one of the most prolific and dangerous sex-offenders ever” and unravelled a catalogue of failure by the authorities in both Britain and Poland.
As many photos of the case are copyright protected by greedy news organisations, to view them, take a peek at my entirely legal social media accounts - Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
As the exact location of the flat where Andrzej Kunowski lived and where the Korean student was raped hasn't been publicly revealed, I've added the location of Twyford Avenue, but not the exact number. To use the map, click it. If you want to see the other murder maps, such as Soho, King's Cross, Paddington or the Reg Christie locations, you access them by clicking here.
I've also posted some photos to aid your "enjoyment" of the episode. These photos were taken by myself (copyright Murder Mile) or granted under Government License 3.0, where applicable.
Credits: The Murder Mile UK True-Crime Podcast was researched, written and recorded by Michael J Buchanan-Dunne, with the sounds recorded on location (where possible), and the music written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name. Additional music was written and performed as used under the Creative Common Agreement 4.0.
SOURCES: See Part One.
TRANSCRIPT OF THE EPISODE: PART THREE OF THE BEAST.
SCRIPT: Welcome to Murder Mile; a true-crime podcast and audio guided walk featuring many of London’s untold, unsolved and long-forgotten murders, all set within and beyond the West End.
Today’s episode is the final part about the brutal murder of Katerina Koneva; by pure luck her killer had been caught, and what seemed like a one-off attack led to “one of the most prolific and dangerous sex-offenders ever” and unravelled a catalogue of failure by the authorities in both Britain and Poland.
Murder Mile is researched using authentic sources. It contains moments of satire, shock and grisly details, and as a dramatization of the real events, it may also feature loud and realistic sounds, so that no matter where you listen to this podcast, you’ll feel like you’re actually there.
My name is Michael, I am your tour-guide and this is Murder Mile.
Episode 85: The Beast – Part Three.
Today I’m standing by bus stop K on the Goldhawk Road, W12; an eight-minute stroll from the former family home of Katerina Koneva, a nine-minute chug from her old school, three tube stops east of The Beast’s flat on Twyford Avenue, a full day’s drive from the Koneva’s homeland in North Macedonia, but nine hundred and sixty-four miles west from where this story actually began.
Stop K is just a regular bus stop on an ordinary West London street; it has a single-sided Perspex shelter (barely big enough for three pensioners, a pram, a small poodle and half a posterior, but at least having only one wall the whiff of BO, eggy-breaths and bum-boffs doesn’t linger), it has a plastic wipe-clean bench (dotted with cigarette burns as if someone’s written “help me” in Morse code), a stinky bin overflowing with the salad from burgers and kebabs (meaning the bin’s healthier than half the kids) and a countdown clock which never works (so one minute here feels like a week in Groundhog Day).
Twenty-three years after her murder, many of the family-run shops on Goldhawk Road (the barbers, the bakers or the tailors) have gone, and although it seems innocent enough, bus stop K still remains.
As it was here, on Thursday 22nd May 1997, from the comfort of his regular seat, that a sadistic and predatory paedophile would watch twelve-year-old schoolgirl Katerina Koneva exit her bus and follow her home. His name was Andrzej Kunowski and he would be known as The Beast... (Interstitial)
…but Katerina wasn’t picked at random, she was chosen, thirty years before she was even born.
In 1956, in the Polish city of Warsaw, Andrzej Kunowski was born Andrzej Klembert, the only child of Elzbieta Klembert; an unmarried mother and a habitual thief struggling to survive behind the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain, as - having signed the Warsaw Pact alongside several states in the Communist Bloc including Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary and Romania to form an uneasy alliance with the Soviet Union - until the fall of the Berlin Wall, Poland would struggle.
Conceived by accident, even as a baby, Andrzej wasn’t loved. With an absent father, few relatives and no brothers or sisters, although he had no competition for his mother’s affection, still it never came.
Aged two, Andrzej was committed to the Warsaw orphanage; a bleak concrete prison full of unwanted babies and abandoned boys, but it wasn’t for something bad that he had done. As coming from a small family – with his mother a thief, his father a burglar, his grandmother a fraudster and his grandfather committed to a psychiatric hospital for sexual offences – as all of his family were in prison, the little boy had nowhere else to go. So, for seven months solid, all he did was cry; he had no-one to love, hug or cuddle him, he had been abandoned and he was too young to understand why.
Upon release, Elzbieta fled to Mlawa (“Mwarva”), an industrial town north of Warsaw and married a builder called Stephan Kunowski; hoping to make a better life for herself.
But by then, Andrzej had become obsessive and clingy; unwilling to let go of his tiny mother’s legs, he cried whenever she pushed him away, he threw hysterical fits anytime she ignored him and should his dark-haired mama dare show an ounce of affection to anyone but him, the unruly child would explode in a volatile temper, only calming once he was returned to her. And his school life was no better.
As an anxious five-year-old, to Andrzej there was no difference between school and the orphanage, so as the little boy stood at the school gates crying for his mother, having been mercilessly teased for being short, messy and smelly, the bigger boys also branded him a “momma’s boy”. And although he was only little, being cursed by quick fists and a short fuse, these early fights taught him to stand-his-ground, to use force to get whatever he wanted and by gripping his bullies by the neck and squeezing - until they apologised or passed-out - he also learned to love the feeling that he could control others.
As Andrzej grew, feeling unloved and inferior, he became fastidiously clean - with pressed shirts, shiny shoes and an excess of aftershave – as he directed his affections on the girls which appealed to him most; all who were petite girls with pale skin, small-features, a child-like frame and long dark-hair. At first, his intentions were not sexual, he just wanted to feel loved, but again he was rejected.
As puberty hit, hormones raged and (unlike the bigger boys who had sprouted-up) being a little fatty stuck at five-foot-three, Andrzej became more solitary, isolated and insular; a chronic masturbator who spent hours silently sat in his bedroom, spying the streets and peeping in windows, obsessively seeking a very specific sort-of girl and fixated by tiny pale brunettes – not unlike his own mother.
In 1969, aged 13, Andrzej was arrested for the first time; it was a small offence for the minor theft of a young lady’s handbag, and for that he was sentenced to six months in a juvenile detention facility.
The crime was frivolous, irrational and spontaneous; he didn’t need the money, he didn’t want the item and (with much of his trauma stemming from his time in the orphanage) he was terrified of being locked-up, but the mugging of a young dark-haired lady wasn’t about financial gain, it was about control. And it marked the start of new and very violent phase in the life of The Beast (Interstitial).
In May 1973, aged 17, having progressed from muggings and robberies to car thefts and burglaries, Andrzej was released from juvenile detention; his behaviour was good, his attitude was fine and having participated in a few programmes – including tailoring, for which his chunky little digits seemed too big for such fine work, but his skill was undeniable – the prison felt he had been rehabilitated.
Only he hadn’t.
This incarcerationiHi had only made his obsession worse, every day was a cruel reminder of his time at the orphanage - when trapped behind iron bars and concrete walls - all he could think about was the affections of his mother… and now, free but unable to have her, he would go after the next best thing.
In June 1973, a few weeks after his release, he dragged his 13-year-old neighbour off his own street, into some bushes and raped her. It was daylight, she knew him and he didn’t wear a disguise. That may seem odd, almost bizarre, but everything which became the hallmark of his attacks (including the brutal murder of Katerina Koneva) started right here. As with each and every victim:
He was arrested, tried and (with two more girls having identified Andrzej Kunowski as their attacker) as a convicted rapist and highly dangerous paedophile, he was sent to prison for just three years. He served his time; he was released and - with his obsession now worse – his terrifying spree of the rape and strangulation of young women and little girls started immediately, were triggered without reason and never ceased; sometimes he attacked once a year, but often he attacked several times a day.
What follows are only the rapes that a court could prove:
Why he hadn’t been caught still beggar’s belief? By the start of a New Year, with his attacks seeing no sign of abating, on 26th January 1978, in a single day, he raped three more women. Thankfully, owing only to luck, having recklessly left fingerprints at the scene, Andrzej Kunowski was arrested and finally – as one of Poland’s most prolific rapists and paedophiles – he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.
But even in an all-male-prison, his sexual assaults continued; on 24th February 1979, he forced a small dark-haired cellmate to perform oral sex on him, one week later he raped another cell-mate and – as a fine example of just how incompetent the Polish justice system was – somehow, on 25th April 1979, he escaped from prison. Six weeks later, he raped a 13-year-old girl as she walked home from school. He was arrested, re-escaped from prison and committed six further rapes before being re-arrested in 1983 and sentenced to thirty years in a maximum-security prison - from which he would never escape.
And he wouldn’t. No, instead, they let him out.
By 1989, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of Communism and to celebrate the election of Poland’s first democratically elected president - Lech Walesa – as part of an offender amnesty, the Polish government released hundreds of prisoners, one of whom was Andrzej Kunowski, having served just six years out of thirty. In 1992, he was released, he married, he fathered a daughter, he got a job as a door-to-door cosmetics salesman, and raped at least five more girls, the youngest was just ten.
But the authority’s incompetence didn’t end there…
Andrzej Kunowski was a violent, calculated and deeply disturbed psychopath who was unrepentant for his crimes, unsympathetic of his victims and unable to stop his spree of rape and strangulation; he was a repeat offender with no chance of rehabilitation, who over thirty years was convicted of more than seventy charges for rape, abduction, sexual assault and the attempted murder of young women, girls and children, leaving possibly hundreds of victims physically and emotionally scarred for life.
So, given his history of lying, burglary, prison breaks, rape and paedophilia, it would be unfathomable to think that the Polish legal system would give him any leniency in his sentence...
But on 24th June 1996, whilst re-imprisoned for further counts of child-rape, having falsely claimed that he needed urgent hip-surgery, a judge released him from prison, for three months - unsupervised.
Over the next three months, he sold his flat, he packed his bags, he emptied his bank account and he applied for and received a tourist visa from the Polish government, and when those three months were up – having never had an operation or knocked on the prison gates asking to be let back in – only then did the Polish authorities realise that their most prolific and dangerous sex-offender was missing.
His fingerprints, his photographs and his DNA were submitted to Interpol, so that every country in Europe could protect their people and catch this violent escaped criminal. Only he was never caught.
His getaway wasn’t a high-speed chase, it wasn’t clever, brazen or covert…
Instead, on the morning of Monday 14th October 1996, having bought a fake passport in a false name, Andrzej Kunowski boarded a coach in Warsaw. And armed only with a box of sandwiches and a bag of crisps, over the next twenty-four-hours, he sat there quietly watching his old life vanish into the distance, as (for a one-way ticket that cost just twenty pounds) he was waved through the immigration checkpoints in Germany, Belgium and France, unchallenged, until his coach boarded the ferry at Calais.
In a catalogue of colossal errors, the Polish authorities had failed every woman, girl and child who had come into contact with one of their most prolific rapists… and now, he was on a boat to England.
I would love to tell you that the British authorities spotted his fake passport. I would love to tell you that they suspected his false name. I would love to tell you that they saw his well-publicised face and with alarms ringing, dogs barking and guns drawn, he was dragged from the coach, searched, arrested and swiftly deported back to Poland before his tiny size five boots could set foot on English soil?
I would love to tell you that’s what happened… but it didn’t.
On the morning of Tuesday 15th October 1996, Andrzej Kunowski had his passport stamped, his visa approved and having arrived at Victoria Bus Station, he vanished amongst the crowds of London.
But he didn’t go into hiding… instead he blended in.
With the fake passport of a Portuguese national, false papers in the name of Jose Marco da Dias, an appearance which looked Spanish or Portuguese but was often mistaken for Greek or Arabic, and speaking in an accent many people could only describe as ‘foreign’, this new arrival didn’t stick out.
With sad eyes, small hands and a smooth face, this fastidiously neat little man with starched shirts, pressed trousers and highly-polished shoes, who had needles and thread in his bag for his embroidery, and milk and biscuits for his nightly cup of tea, this new stranger didn’t seem a threat to anyone.
So, the unassuming little man known only as Jose Marco da Dias acquired himself a ground-floor bedsit on Twyford Avenue, and (being a skilled tailor) found a nice little job at a dry-cleaners on Goldhawk Road, just a few feet from Bus Stop K and just one street from the home of Katerina Koneva.
With no witnesses to her murder, what follows is based on the Police investigation and the testimony of the many young girls who survived those terrifying and brutal attacks at the hands of The Beast.
Thursday 22nd May 1997 was just an ordinary day; it was warm, clear and dry.
Since 8am, Andrzej sat at his usual spot in the window of the dry-cleaners; a neat little man on a neat little chair at a neat little desk - perched behind a tidy array of bobbins, needles and threads - as he watched the world go by. Being a pleasant chap, some people passed and waved, others popped-in for sewing tips, and where-as – with his chunky little digits seemingly too big for such fine work, but his skill undeniable - many handed him their most intimate garments which once clung to their bodies.
His window seat was a perfect vantage point; as a tailor it had good natural light; being an occasionally monotonous job this busy street was never dull; and as a convicted paedophile, being perched within sight of bus stop K, the school-run was like a conveyor-belt of loveliness, as bus-after-bus of delicious little girls - in short skirts, white socks and tight blouses - were paraded before his eyes. And although he liked to look at them, most didn’t appeal to him, as he knew what he liked, he had a type.
With his shift coming to an end, as the clock neared ten-to-four, with a reassuring clunk of his sewing machine, Andrzej finished stitching the hem onto the skirt of a school uniform, and packed up for the day. His plan? To go home, have a bath, a meal, a bit of telly and a sleep – the same as anyone else.
But all that changed at 3:50pm, with the arrival of the 94 bus from Notting Hill Gate… and Katerina.
In his eyes, it was a spontaneous decision by a chance encounter with a total stranger, as they all were, and although he hadn’t sought a little girl to rape, that primal urge (he had to act on that instant) was triggered by the sight of a pretty petite girl with long dark hair who reminded him of his mother.
Fixated, staring and obsessed, unable to think about anyone else, he didn’t know her name, he didn’t care who she was, but – having chosen her – he needed to control her and hear her say “I love you”.
Keeping a safe distance, as he watched the soft swish of her grey skirt and the bounce of her Virgin Airlines bag which was slung across her tiny chest by a thick red strap; her walk was quick, but not fast as if she was frightened but eager as if she had exciting news, and as he followed the little girl down Hammersmith Grove, Benbow Road and onto Iffley Road, she unwittingly led him right to her home.
Behind the corner of Hebron Road, the front of 35 Iffley Road was completely visible. From this spot he saw her unlock the door, call for her “daddy” and get no reply; via a small glass panel above he saw her pop on the hall light, trot upstairs and – with the blinds of the bay window open - he watched as she went from room-to-room, calling “daddy” but still getting no reply, until finally in the front room overlooking the street, she slung her bag, popped on her TV and closed her bedroom blinds.
From outside, three times, the home phone rang, which she never answered. Perhaps she had music on, perhaps the TV was too loud, or perhaps she was in the shower? But as she didn’t answer it, and no-one else did, as he broke in, he knew one thing for certain… that this little girl was all alone.
What happened next to Katerina was never reported publicly, but as his method didn’t deviate in almost thirty years, it is based on the testimony of his last Polish victim, as well as many others.
On 16th May 1995, two years before Katerina’s murder, The Beast had spotted 14-year-old schoolgirl Agnieszka Grzybicka (“Gryzbika”) hop off the bus, walk down her street and enter her home, all alone; she was a petite elfin-faced teen with a tiny body and long dark hair - just like his momma.
Easily lifting the latch, The Beast crept in, the empty house was eerily silent except for the soft creak of his footsteps and the muffled hum of kid’s tv; with a little girl’s uniform slung on the floor and her schoolbag dumped by the door, it was clear – with no adults inside – there was no-one to protect her.
So, having followed her solitary sounds, The Beast pushed open her bedroom door.
Inside, the little girl was sat on a small pink bed, a dark-haired dot among a sea of soft toys and plush teddies – happily playing, as this was her safe place. Hearing the door creak, she turned, expecting to see her daddy, but instead - in her home, in the doorway, of her own bedroom - stood a stranger.
Before she could say a word, The Beast shushed her: “It’s okay, I’m here to see your father. Is he in?”, confused she shook her head, her instinct should have been to shout or scream, but as the neat little man with sad eyes and a sweet smell didn’t seem threatening, when he said “then I wait here, okay?”, it seemed fine, as he sat beside her on the bed and made small-talk about dollies to pass the time.
Having gained her trust, The Beast asked “can you keep a secret?”, she nodded, “good, I want you to kiss me”, he said as he stroked her long dark hair. The terrified girl froze, “come on, kiss me” he barked, but the little look-a-like of his beloved momma said nothing. And as his anger rose, “kiss me, now, love me” - as the petrified girl wept and shook her head - gripping her soft pale throat in his hairy little hand, The Beast repeatedly strangled and raped the little girl, taking her close to the point of death, again and again and again, in a sustained and brutal attack, lasting over an hour, until he was done.
And then, as he would have done with Katerina (had he not been disturbed by her daddy), untying the cord which choked her, The Beast asked “you do love me, yes?”, the terrified teen nodded, “so kiss me”, which she did, and having got exactly what he wanted, The Beast left… and this little girl lived.
Having fled the first-floor-flat at 35 Iffley Road, chased by Trajce and left Katerina for dead, he hijacked a black Fiat Uno, and in a plume of dust, sped off down the side streets… and was gone.
Over the next five years, until the rape of the Korean woman, The Beast would vanish, but just like the Polish authorities whose catalogue of errors let a prolific paedophile roam free, so would the British.
Speeding south, Andrzej Kunowski dumped the stolen car by Hammersmith bus station and caught the District Line tube home. Moments later, the Police found the car, recovered his fingerprints and although they proved a positive match to Katerina’s killer, they didn’t match anyone on the UK National Police Database. Of course, the Police could have checked with Interpol… but they didn’t.
One month later, having been arrested for stealing a small amount of petty cash from Siddington Farm in Ledbury (Herefordshire) where he worked as a strawberry picker, for the minor offence of theft he should have been fingerprinted, but as the charge was dropped… he wasn’t.
Having admitting to immigration officers that he wasn’t Portuguese but was Polish, even though he was using a fake passport in the false name of Jose Marco da Dias, in 1998 (one year after Katerina’s murder) he applied for asylum, and whilst his application was considered, he was allowed to walk free.
As he had entered the country illegally, the UK Immigration Service should have taken his fingerprints. If they had, they’d have known that Jose Marco de Dias was an alias, that Andrzej Kunowski was his real name, that he was a wanted fugitive with a thirty-year history of child-rape, abduction and attempted murder… but they didn’t.
Instead, during three years his asylum application was assessed, he worked a series of regular jobs in and around West London, he lived in a ground-floor flat just yards from The Japanese School (a prep-school for petite preteen brunettes) and – even though he was arrested in July 2002 for falsely claiming benefits – he was released, and underwent a heart bypass operation courtesy of the British taxpayer.
On 14th August 2002, his UK asylum application was rejected, and although (as only a benefits thief) the British authorities ordered him to be deported back to Poland, he failed to show-up and they failed to track him down to his own flat. One month later, he brutally raped a South Korean student…
…that attack, and only that attack, having left his DNA at the scene, finally led to the imprisonment of Poland’s most prolific child-rapist and the murderer of twelve-year-old Katerina Kovena. (End)
Andrzej Kunowski was given a whole-life tariff, an indefinite sentence (reserved for the most serious offenders) which he served at HMP Frankland, one of the UK’s toughest maximum-security prisons. As a risk to women, children and even other prisoners, he was kept in solitary confinement, supervised 24 hours a day and – for the rest of his natural life – he would never see beyond the prison walls.
Unlike in Poland, where he had broken-out of prison three times, The Beast would never escape HMP Frankland… but it wasn’t through want of trying. Instead, it was his own fat little body that proved to be his executioner, as on 23rd September 2009, 52-year-old Andrzej Kunowski died of heart failure.
But even his death brought very little comfort to the Koneva family.
In a statement, the family said “today I do not feel happy. I wish that I was not giving this statement and that Katerina was still here by my side. I am relieved that this evil man can no longer murder or sexually assault another young girl, but my daughter is gone”. Trajce and Zaklina have since divorced, the family continue to try to rebuild their lives, and each birthday and Christmas they take presents to Katerina’s grave, but every day is a struggle, a constant reminder of their beautiful little girl, cruelly taken so young – "I talk to her every day, and every night, I always say goodnight to my daughter."
This episode is dedicated to the memory of Katerina Koneva and the hundreds of women and girls who were attacked by The Beast, having been failed by the authorities in Britain and Poland.
OUTRO: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to Murder Mile.
That was Part Three of a three-part series on The Beast. Next week, we return to single-part episodes and – as always - after the break there’s more nonsense with Extra Mile. But first this. (add promo)
Before that, a thank you to my new Patreon supporters who are Tracy Keech and Dark Master, I thank you, I hope you enjoyed your goodies and all of the extra online goodies you’ve received via Patreon. Also a thank you to Amy Hussein for the cakes, which mysteriously disappeared. Burp!
Murder Mile was researched, written & performed by myself, with the main musical themes written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name.
Thank you for listening and sleep well.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian, podcaster and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten curious, quirky, unusual and different things to do in London”, nominated "one of the best true-crime podcasts at the British Podcast Awards 2018", one of The Telegraph's top five true-crime podcasts and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totaling 50 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster & tour guide of Murder Mile Walks, hailed as one of the best "quirky curious & unusual things to do in London".
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