A convicted murderer obsessed with Hannibal Lecter has appealed his life sentence after pleading guilty to chopping off a teacher’s head and stuffing her body parts into a bag.
In a crime that sent shockwaves across Poland, Kajetan Poznanski was jailed in 2021 after telling judges he killed the woman as part of a “self-improvement plan.”
Now his lawyers think his sentence should be overturned.
Nicknamed the “Hannibal of Zoliborz,” after the affluent Warsaw neighborhood where he lived and his fascination with the fictional serial killer, Poznanski went to the house of language teacher Katarzyna Jaroszyńska in 2016 under the pretext that he wanted to learn Italian.
In what prosecutors called a premeditated murder, he pulled out a knife once inside and launched a frenzied assault on the unsuspecting 30-year-old.
In a crime that sent shock waves across Poland, Kajetan Poznanski (pictured) was jailed in 2021 after telling judges he killed the woman as part of a ‘self-improvement plan’
In 2016, Poznanski went to the home of a language teacher Katarzyna Jaroszyńska (pictured) under the pretext of wanting to learn Italian
Poznański is escorted to a plane by police after being caught
He chopped up the woman’s body with a saw and put the remains in a suitcase. He then ordered a taxi back to his rented apartment.
When the taxi driver asked him why blood was dripping from the trunk, he allegedly said that he was transporting the carcass of a wild boar.
He initially planned to eat the woman’s remains, but when he returned home, the 27-year-old instead set fire to the apartment to hide the evidence.
The teacher’s body parts were found by firefighters called to put out the blaze.
Her head was found in a backpack.
According to local media, Katarzyna planned to fly to Bologna in Italy later that day to meet her boyfriend.
Originally from the Polish city of Radom, the veteran Italian teacher had studied art history before moving to the Polish capital to study applied linguistics at the University of Warsaw.
The killer later justified the slaughter by saying that he “had to kill someone to get rid of the belief that a human life was worth more than a pig or a fly.”
Poznanski, a high-flying student whose grandfather had been a respected journalist and whose parents were architects and prosecutors, was an intern at one of Poland’s largest current affairs magazines.
While there, he pitched a number of articles about cannibalism.
One was called “Famous Gourmands – Between Rome and Hannibal Lecter,” in which he suggested “exposing my taste buds to the true classics of culinary art.”
Another was titled “On Hannibal Lecter (21st Century)” where he asked, “What is the moral difference between eating a chicken and eating a human being?” No.’
In another under the heading “How to become a good carnivore?” he wrote: ‘Lede: Hey carnivores! Shouldn’t we kill our dinner at least once in our lives to be morally compatible with each other?
“We go to fancy shops and know nothing of the dirty work done before, and the vegetarians keep pulling out the heavy guns against us!”
In yet another titled “A Word on Cannibalism,” he wrote, “The first season of ‘Hannibal’ was coming to a close, but it didn’t leave me without valuable reflections.” Namely, what’s so wrong with eating human flesh?
‘Attention! Anyone who associates cannibalism only with wild tribes from Africa or other Papua is wrong. Europe has three words here! And I will justify them.’
After his arrest, the magazine said: “We did not accept any of the proposals and the intern was moved to another department, where he wrote two texts that were not accepted.”
Poznanski then found work in a library in the same neighborhood where Katarzyna lived.
While there, he began writing poetry about murderers he admired who had committed premeditated murders.
In a poem entitled ‘Hannibal Lecter’s Feast’ he wrote: ‘Gathered here for the feast of the Holy Muse. My slaughter feast!’
Poznański was once listed by Europol in its ‘most wanted fugitives’ section, saying he was wanted for ‘murder and grievous bodily harm’
Poznański dismembered the woman’s body and put the remains in a bag, then returned to his rented apartment and set fire to it to hide the evidence.
Described by friends as “sociable and intelligent,” one of them said they noticed a change while studying.
Speaking to local media, the friend said: “He always had books with him and was always deep in thought. But he also came to parties.
“But then he acted weird and started talking about being possessed.”
After the grizzly murder, the 27-year-old fled the capital.
He first returned to his hometown of Poznan, then took a train to Berlin before boarding a flight to Bologna, Italy, where his victim’s boyfriend lived.
According to a guide who showed him around the Italian city, he wanted to visit the anatomical theater of the Archiginnasio, where the dissection of humans and animals used to take place.
Polish police issued an international arrest warrant and tracked him down in Malta 11 days later.
He was seized by armed police ‘in possession of a knife and several thousand euros in cash’.
While being escorted to a plane, he attacked one of the police officers.
At trial, his lawyers said the real A student who had degrees in classical philology and journalism had “limited common sense.”
But judges ruled that the murder was “planned and calculated.”
Criminologists argued that Poznański had been planning the crime for a long time and that he “probably had been watching his victim and getting to know her habits and interests.”
During a pre-trial psychological examination, Poznanski attempted to strangle the detention house psychologist.
When she got up to leave, he grabbed her by the neck and began to strangle her before a guard came to the rescue.
Poznanski then took a piece of broken glass from his pocket and attacked the guard.
Classified as a dangerous prisoner, the head of the remand house’s forensic psychiatry team ordered that he be “held in a straitjacket.”
Referring to the murder of the teacher, forensic psychologist Teresa Gens told local media at the time: “There is never one motive in these kinds of crimes. Perhaps the guiding motive was self-improvement, consisting in overcoming a certain taboo against the deprivation of human life.
His friends said that at some point they noticed his transformation, both physically and mentally. They mentioned that there were elements of isolation and that a very strong identification with the figure of Hannibal Lecter can be seen in his literary works.
‘There are two options. One is that a fantasy world or idea begins to develop that was created as a result of a personality disorder. The second possibility is that a psychotic process began to develop, culminating in this crime.
“These are two very important directions that expert psychiatrists are sure to explore. This will have a very big impact on the assessment of his sanity.’
Psychologists eventually concluded that Poznanski did not have a “mental illness that limited his ability to control his behavior.”
Prosecutor Przemysław Nowak said, “He was looking for a victim. He decided that it must be a stranger, that it must be a language teacher.
‘A complete accident decided that Katarzyna J. was the victim. He found her phone number on a website advertising language classes.
“The victim was completely coincidental, they had never met before. They talked on the phone to arrange lessons.’
Poznański was seized by armed police ‘in possession of a knife and several thousand euros in cash’
The teacher’s body parts were found by firefighters called to put out the blaze
Criminologist Brunon Holyst said: ‘He could be obsessed with murder and want to transfer the crime of the ancient world into reality.
‘He’s a two-faced man. On the one hand he is educated and intelligent, on the other hand he was obsessed with murder.’
The court ruled that he was in his right mind when he committed the murder.
Now his lawyers are appealing the sentence and asking for it to be quashed.
Defense attorney Piotr Dałkowski said: “The defense did not agree with this verdict.
“We questioned it both in terms of determining mental health and the amount of the fine.”
He added that Poznanski was “in a state where conscious decision-making at the moment of the act was impossible.”
The judges adjudicating the case are expected to reach a verdict next month.