Student skinned alive before flesh used as suit in ‘Silence of the Lambs’ murder

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The murder of a student who was skinned alive and found wrapped around a boat propeller – in a case that is regularly compared to the Silence of the Lambs – still remains a mystery to this day.

Katarzyna Zowanda, went missing at the age of 23, and was later identified as the person found on a tugboat named The Elk in a chilling discovery.

She was beaten, tortured and skinned alive following her disappearance in November 1998 before her flesh was made into a bodysuit and found in the Vistula river in Poland.

Cops believe the killer prepared the skin so that they could wear it, in scenes which closely mirrored the grisly Hannibal Lecter movie.

Robert Janczewski, 52, had been a person of interest in the case since 1999 but it took a staggering 19 years until he was arrested on October 2017.

He still denies the murder to this day and is still in custody after prosecutors called for his trial to take place behind closed doors, reports The Sun.

It was reported that Zowanda's mum raised her suspicions after she didn't turn up to her doctors appointment.

She was reportedly told to wait for her daughter to show up after she tried to file a missing person's report at her local police station.

Almost two months later, the crew on the tugboat realised something was stuck and pulled open the latch to find human skin.

The victim's leg was later found in the river following a police search on January 14, 1999. But none of Katarzyna's remains were found.

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An examination concluded that the skin had deliberately been removed and transformed into a bodysuit.

The body was then exhumed after a group dubbed the 'X-Files" teamed up with the Polish Police in 2012.

Together, they determined that the killer had used a sharp tool to conduct the extreme torture against Katarzyna who had died from blood loss.

Expert Duarte Nuno Vieira said in a report at the time: "The 23-year-old student was beaten first, then her neck, armpits, and groin were cut with a knife, and she died from blood loss.

"The victim was probably alive when she was skinned.

"The right limb over the ankle joint had to be strapped to something until finally, between December 7 and 14, 1998, the perpetrator choked the victim with the chain. Before that, he had been giving her drugs.

"Stab wounds, chop wounds, and lacerations were also discovered. He also probably sexually abused her when she was dead."

Janczewski, who had a past of harassing women and being a martial arts expert, was arrested after police were sent a mysterious letter.

When cops raided the arrested home, they came across bloodstains on his bathroom mirror which were later matched to Katarzyna.

It was also found that he had been let go from the Cracow Institute of Zoology after several rabbits in his care were pronounced dead overnight.

And despite maintaining his innocence, he visited the 23-year-old's grave a number of times even though he claimed to not know her.

Janczewski was charged with aggravated murder and is being kept in prison following the request for a closed trial by the authorities.

The accused killer stood appeared in court in front of Katarzyna's devastated mother last year on February 7.

Her mum continues to seek justice after being unable to bury her daughter's remains following the missing gaps in the case.

Janczewski has currently been in prison for five years while police collect more evidence. It has been confirmed 500 files have been gathered at this time.

His father claims that his son is innocent and told publication Krakow Naszemiasto: "I am afraid that my wife and I will not live to see justice and the moment when my son will regain his freedom."

The defendant's attorney said they were unable to comment as the case is awaiting trial.

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