January 31, 1957*
Władysław Mazurkiewicz, known as “The Gentleman Murderer” or “The Elegant Murderer,” is executed for the murders of 6
Note: The date of Mazurkiewicz’s execution seems to be disputed, with some sources citing January 29 and others January 31.
On September 24, 1955, Stanisław Łopuszyński visited a doctor, complaining of a searing headache. He was examined and an X-ray showed he had a foreign object lodged in his skull. The doctor operated and removed a bullet from Łopuszyński’s head.
Police questioned Łopuszyński when he was able to respond, and asked if he remembered being shot. Łopuszyński recalled a night when he and his friend, Władysław Mazurkiewicz, had been drinking. A loud noise woke Łopuszyński from a slumber, and he asked Mazurkiewicz what had happened. “It’s nothing,” Mazurkiewicz replied. “I just wanted to scare you with a firecracker.”
The incident led police to investigate Mazurkiewicz. His house was searched and his garage immediately drew the attention of authorities who noticed the floor looked uneven and recently disturbed. Beneath the cement police found the bodies of two women, one of whom had apparently been alive when the cement had buried her. Mazurkiewicz was then arrested.
It was found that Mazurkiewicz had been killing from 1943 to 1955, murdering his victims to gain access to their finances to “lead a life of ease” which paid for housing in Kraków and Warsaw. At first it was reported Mazurkiewicz had been asked if he had killed 30 women, to which he responded, “Yes, that’s true.” Soon, however, authorities began to blame scores of unsolved murders on Mazurkiewicz. “People are crediting me with too much,” Mazurkiewicz told reporters. “I planned only eight murders. I want the record straight.”
Mazurkiewicz’s first attempted murder was carried out in 1943, when he gave his victim a sandwich tainted with cyanide. Depending on the source, the man either stopped eating due to its strange taste or felt his muscles tighten and feigned unconsciousness, eventually making an escape and finding medical assistance before the poison could kill him.
Mazurkiewicz next targeted an acquaintance he knew through the black market, a man identified as Wiktor Z. Wiktor was given a cyanide-laced drink — either vodka or tea. Once Wiktor was dead, Mazurkiewicz took the US$1,200 he had on him. (TIME magazine noted the Polish black market preferred to use US currency.) The next victim was Władysław B. who was shot to death while he was riding with Mazurkiewicz. The killer indicated to a mountain range and told the victim, “See what the Tatras look like in the sun.” When the victim turned to look, Mazurkiewicz shot him in the back of the head. Mazurkiewicz later dumped Władysław’s body in a river. This killing netted Mazurkiewicz 160,000 złotys (for reference, 2,000 zł was the equivalent of 3 months’ pay for a typical worker at the time).
Józef T. was the next to die, killed for 225,000 zł. Mazurkiewicz was seen disposing of Józef’s body but the witness quickly changed their testimony to no longer implicate Mazurkiewicz. Mazurkiewicz had influential friends within the prosecutor’s office and it was alleged the witness was confronted by these high-ranking officials to protect Mazurkiewicz.
Jerzy de Laveaux, Mazurkiewicz’s upstairs neighbor, was also involved in the black market and as such had various valuables in his possession, including a 42-lb. (19-kg) solid gold bar, a 10-carat diamond worth US$5,000, and approximately US$10,000 (approximately $108,000 today). De Laveaux was lured into the woods under the pretense of a currency exchange, killed, and dumped in a river.
Mazurkiewicz took a break from killing until 1955, when he approached de Laveaux’s widow. Mazurkiewicz took possession of the woman’s valuables for safekeeping by claiming a raid was coming. When she asked for the jewels and money to be returned, Mazurkiewicz shot her and buried her beneath his garage floor. Possibly to ensure no one would inquire about the widow’s disappearance, Mazurkiewicz then invited her sister to the house, killed her as well, and buried her next to her sister.
With the admission of 6 murders, Mazurkiewicz was convicted on August 30, 1956 and sentenced to death. Sources are divided on the actual date of his execution, listing either January 29 or 31, either two days before or the day of his 46th birthday.
“Władysław Mazurkiewicz: Historia eleganckiego mordercy.” Historian Bez Tabu. July 19, 2020. Accessed: January 31, 2021. https://blogbeztabu.blog/2020/07/19/wladyslaw-mazurkiewicz-historia-eleganckiego-mordercy/
“Piękny Władek przyznał się do 30 morderstw. Pierwszej ofierze podał kanapkę z cyjankiem potasu.” Fakt. February 1, 2020. Accessed: January 31, 2021. https://www.fakt.pl/wydarzenia/polska/krakow/piekny-wladek-przyznal-sie-do-30-morderstw-skazany-na-smierc-w-1957-roku/tektqj4 (Polish)
“Władysław Mazurkiewicz vel Elegancki Morderca.” Minnie – Kryminalistka. July 2, 2018. Accessed: January 31, 2021. https://minnie-kryminalistka.pl/wladyslaw-mazurkiewicz-vel-elegancki-morderca/
Spryszynski, Veronica. “Władysław Mazurkiewicz: Gentleman or Killer.” St. Mary’s University History Media. September 22, 2017. Accessed: January 31, 2021. https://stmuhistorymedia.org/wladyslaw-mazurkiewicz-gentleman-or-killer/
“‘Gentleman Murderer’ Prays, Goes To Gallows.” The Huntsville Times. January 31, 1957
“Dies on Gallows.” The Kingston Daily Freeman. January 31, 1957
“Polish Lothario Sentenced to Die For Six Murders.” Victoria Daily Times. August 30, 1956
“The Joys of Private Enterprise.” TIME Magazine. August 27, 1956
“Bluebeard Pole Admits 30 Deaths.” The Indianapolis Star. August 7, 1956