BELGRADE, Serbia, June 24, 2008 -- Readers of the Macedonian newspaper Utranski Vesnik were amazed at the in-depth investigative reports written by journalist Vlado Taneski about the cases of four women, three murdered and one missing in the town of Kicevo, Macedonia.
But the same details that titillated readers also interested the police, who concluded that Taneski must have been writing out of his own experience.
Then his DNA was found on some of the victims' remains.
The 56-year-old reporter was arrested Friday and charged with two of the brutal murders. Authorities were hoping to talk to him about the third body and the other missing woman.
But Taneski would never help investigators, nor will he ever stand trial.
He was discovered dead in his cell late on Sunday.
"He committed suicide," police spokesman Ivo Kotevski told ABC News.
"He put his head in a pail full of water. It is unclear how none of his cell mates or guards noticed while he was doing so. He finished like in a horror movie," Kotevski said.
Taneski's alleged victims were all elderly women who lived and worked as cleaners in Kicevo, about 80 miles outside of the Macedonian capital, Skopje.
Their bodies were found naked, stuffed inside plastic bags and left in several locations. Evidence showed that they had been sexually and physically abused before they were strangled with phone cords, officials say.
"The last victim, a 65-year old female, was found with 13 deep wounds on her skull and multiple rib fractures," Kotevski told ABC News.
Police say all the women had a strong resemblance to Taneski's late mother, with whom he had poor relations. All of them lived in the same neighborhood as him, and worked with his mother.
The cases had all gone unsolved since the first woman's disappearance in 2003. The three known victims died in 2005, 2007 and 2008.
Their families were relieved that a suspect was taken into custody but outraged that the man charged with the crimes actually interviewed many of them about the murders for his articles.
"He came to me and asked for some details for my sister," Cvetanka Licoska noted angrily, in an interview with ABC News. He even took a photo of her with him, she said.
"He came to our home, we talked, he asked for details," recalled Zoran Temelkoski, whose mother was one of those killed, and who, like Licoska, was caught by surprise by the outcome of the long investigation.
"Who could imagine that it would be our neighbor at the end?"