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20070226: Suspected serial killer shocks Montenegrins Podgorica Serial Killer News

An elderly man suspected of a series of murders in the United States, Belgium and Albania was discreet, pleasant and always obliging, neighbours in his homeland of Montenegro said.

Smail Tulja, 67, lived in Masline, a quiet suburb of the capital Podgorica, for years without giving the slightest indication of his alleged dark past, until local police acted on an FBI tip-off last week.

"Since he arrived in the district, 'Smajo' was an exemplary neighbour - pleasant, discreet and at pains to help everyone," said one local resident who wished to remain anonymous.

Tulja was detained in Podgorica on February 17 on suspicion of having carried out at least seven gruesome murders in the 1990s, five of them in Belgium, and one each in the United States and Albania.

DNA tests late last week linked him to the murder of his former wife, Mary Beal, whose mutilated body was found in New York, where he was working as a taxi driver at the time in 1990.

In the small, tight-knit community of Masline, the news landed like a bomb.

"Smajo was small, 1,60 metres tall at the most. He looked soft, likeable, and seemed nothing like a serial killer," said another neighbour who also requested anonymity.

The house that Tulja occupied in Podgorica, located close to an old military barracks, was built while he lived in the United States.

"He sent money and the construction of the house, which comprises four apartments was supervised by his cousins," said another local resident.

"Since his return to the country, Tulja lived off the rent he collected from these apartments and the financial assistance sent to him by his children."

Tulja lived alone but most local residents said they knew he had been married several times and had children, the majority of whom lived in the United States.

A few years ago, an Albanian woman, Remi, lived with him in Podgorica, said one of the neighbours. "She was a nice woman, but after a quarrel she returned to Albania and was never seen again."

Albanian police investigated Tulja for the alleged murder of his wife Remi in the late 1990s.

According to this neighbour, "Smajo" spent most of his time gardening.

"Once he insisted on me accompanying him downtown in his car. I accepted. He was very nice on the way. But since I learned the news (about the crimes of which he is suspected) the memory of this gives me goose bumps."

The tenants of Tulja's apartments also speak of their landlord as an exemplary character. "He never demanded the rent, and often agreed to wait a little," said one of them.

After having left New York, Tulja lived in Belgium until 1997 under another identity.

During this period five women were killed in Belgium, their dismembered bodies found in plastic bags throughout the western region of Mons in 1996 and 1997. The murders were never solved.

Ahead of the arrival in Montenegro of US and Belgian police, local authorities have widened their investigation to determine whether Tulja committed murders in his homeland.

 

20070222: Bergen serial killer arrested Podgorica Serial Killer News
The 67-year-old Montenegrin Smailj Tulja, currently in prison in Montenegro, is suspected of numerous cruel murders in Belgium and the US. Eleven murders involved Belgian victims, police in Montenegro say.

Five women were murdered between 1996 and 1997 in Bergen. The murderer cut the bodies in pieces, put them in garbage bags, which he left on the outskirts of the city. The case was nicknamed “the garbage-bag murders of Bergen”. The killer was never found.

According to the FBI, the case was very similar to a murder in the Bronx section of New York City in 1990. A taxi driver had murdered his wife, cut her body in pieces and hid it under the apartment floor; the man was reported to have moved to Belgium.

According to the FBI, Tulja lived in Belgium between 1994 and 1997, in a village between Aarlen and Virton, and most probably also worked as a taxi driver, HLN.BE reports.

 

20070221: Podgorica resident suspected serial killer Podgorica Serial Killer News
Montenegrin Police arrested Smailjo Tulja, on suspicion of murdering six women in the US, Belgium and Albania.

Tulja, aged 67, was arrested on Saturday evening in co-operation with the Interpol and FBI agents, Montenegrin media reported.

According to unofficial sources, Tulja is suspected of killing his wife in a US town in 1990. Murder charges have also been raised against him in Belgium, where he allegedly murdered a woman he had an affair with.

He afterwards moved to Albania, according to police reports, where he supposedly committed another four murders.

Tulja has been residing in Podgorica for the last 15 years. He has several registered marriages and numerous children residing abroad.

Smailjo Tulja awaits extradition to the US where he is expected to stand trial.
 


Copyright 1995-2005 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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