The Truth is Out There

“Every Police Province Headquarters will have a division of criminal investigation into unsolved cases – the X-Files department,” informed Marek Dyjasz from Polish National Police. “Today, scientific knowledge plays an essential role in criminal cases, [and] DNA evidence solves previously unsolvable crimes. As [using] DNA analysis or the fingerprint database has opened new doors in solving crimes, we will come back to the evidential materials collected many years ago,” he added.

There are 17 provinces in Poland, but only six of them include this special operations group. The oldest X-Files department is in Krakow. It has dealt with unsolved crimes since 1999 and has succeeded in catching over a dozen murderers.

“The truth is out there…” – or so FBI agent Fox Mulder (played by David Duchovny) used to say in The X-Files, an American science fiction television series created by Chris Carter. In this series, agents Mulder and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) were tasked with investigating X-Files, the marginalised, unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena. Unlike their television counterparts, the names of Krakow’s agents are top secret. A majority of local policemen, some working even in the same building, do not know them. The X-Files team are reluctant speak too much about their operative work. Contrary to the small screen agents, Krakow’s group is less focused on supernatural phenomena; however, they do not rule out co-operation with clairvoyants. Looking for dead bodies from a helicopter with a thermovision camera and georadar is sometimes not enough.

Agents from the X-Files department analyse the characteristics of victims and potential perpetrators, investigate those who have had contact with a victim, and plan interrogation strategies. They single out suspected murderers, then strike. It may sound like the job of a standard policeman, but the entire Krakow team have been trained in Quantico (USA) in the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). They are working on unsolved cases which are not yet stale. According to Polish law, after 30 years police cannot do anything even if they find the perpetrator.

Cases examined by X-Files departments include: solved or unsolved homicides or attempted murders, cases involving an abduction, cases which are motiveless or sexually oriented, or are known or suspected to be part of a series, missing people, unidentified dead bodies where the manner of death is known or suspected to be homicide, sexual assault cases, and other “non-standard” cases.

“It is very important to find the body of a victim,” underlined policemen. “It can take a few days, a few months, sometimes even a few years. Usually murderers try to hide the body where no one would ever find it. They are ready to burn it or cut in pieces and throw to the river,” they added.

The most shocking murder, still unsolved, is a case of a young woman killed 10 years ago in Krakow. The crew of a tugboat that cruised the Vistula River found a sheet of skin. After DNA analysis police were sure that this is was the skin of a missing student who had disappeared a few weeks earlier. The perpetrator had removed the skin from her entire torso.

Agents checked all the data available on local serial killers but they did not find anything. The killer was probably inspired by a very popular movie at the time, The Silence of the Lambs, directed by Jonathan Demme. This is a story of a young FBI trainee who is summoned to help find a serial killer called Buffalo Bill. Bill was killing young overweight women so he could remove their skin and fashion a “woman suit” for himself because he believed himself to be transsexual. Eerily enough, the Krakow case is very similar. Policemen from the X-Files department still hope that this dark murder will be solved.

“Time is working for us sometimes. People who have committed an offence cope with stress for months, maybe years, but one day they cannot do it, the tension is too big and they [end up] coming to our office. Of course it does not necessarily apply to those who are mentally ill or repeat offenders,” relates a policeman from another X-Files department in Katowice. “At the end of October this year a 28-year-old man came to us and said that he had killed a woman. He had to tell police about the murder. This man showed remorse after… six years,” underlined the agent.

“The final success of the X-Files [department’s] activities depends on determination, technique and on the people who are able to use it,” said Marek Dyjasz. After all, each crime is different, so it is not always easy to find an algorithm for revealing them all.

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