(Thanks to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project for the guest post. -ed.)
Kot was born in Kraków in 1946, the son of an engineer and a housewife. His abnormal, violent behavior began early. He was jealous of his baby sister, who was born when he was eight, and thought their parents loved her more. While their parents were away, he beat her and even tortured and killed her pets.
He was fascinated by death and hung around slaughterhouses in his free time, helping the employees there kill calves and drinking the animals’ blood.
Most of the sources about Karol Kot, such as this Warsaw Post article, and this article from Polish Newsweek, are in Polish. He was, however, the subject of an episode in the 2014 English-language documentary series Killers: Behind the Myth.
This Kraków Post article describes Kot’s origins. He did well enough in his studies at school, but his classmates knew him as a shy, withdrawn loner and a weirdo. Between that and his enormous knife collection, it’s no wonder there was a running joke at Kot’s school that he must be the Vampire of Kraków.
One of the few things he truly excelled at was shooting; he was the star of the local rifle club. At one point he was ranked tenth in the entire country in the youth division. Kot’s coach mentored him, invited him to his home and even told his own son, “Be like Karol.” Kot found this hilarious: he had been planning to murder the boy.
He committed his first knife attack in September 1964, at the age of seventeen, stabbing a 48-year-old woman repeatedly inside a church as she knelt to pray. She survived. In fact, she didn’t even realize she was hurt until she went home, removed her coat, saw that she was bleeding and went to the hospital.
Kot went after his second victim, a 73-year-old woman, a few days later. Kot saw her exit a tram, followed her home, and stabbed her in the back as she walked up her front steps. She survived, but remained paralyzed for the rest of her life.
Six days later he stabbed a third woman, 77 years old, again inside a church; this was his first fatality. When the nuns found her, with her dying breaths the victim whispered that her attacker had been a schoolboy.
All three of Kot’s first victims were older females. He committed no more stabbings for a year and a half, but became interested in poison instead. Kot laced open bottles of beer and soda with arsenic and left them lying around, hoping someone would drink from them, but no one was tempted. He tried giving a poisoned drink to a classmate, but his intended victim poured it out because it smelled funny.
In 1966, Kot gave up on the poisoning idea and returned to his old weapon, the knife. He changed his target demographic from elderly women to young children.
In February, he stabbed and killed an eleven-year-old boy named Leszek at Kościuszko Mound. It was a horrific attack, with far more wounds inflicted than were necessary to kill Leszek. In April, Kot attacked a little girl named Małgorzata as she was checking the mail outside her home. He stabbed her a total of eleven times in the chest, back and abdomen. She suffered from severe internal injuries, but survived.
After knifing Małgorzata, Kot went to the militia to get his gun permit renewed, then went home.
In Communist Poland, crime was rarely reported in the newspapers. In the case of Kot’s murders, however, the vexed police took the rare step of issuing press releases about his crimes, appealing to possible witnesses to come forward with information.
The citizens of Kraków were terrified. People began going out with boards and cast-iron pot lids stuffed under their clothes to protect themselves from the Vampire’s blade.
Kot was caught after he bragged about his crimes to fellow member of the rifle club. She didn’t believe him until she read in the newspaper about the attempted murder of Małgorzata. Then she went to the police.
He was arrested, but was permitted to take his final school-leaving examinations, in hopes of forestalling an anticipated insanity plea. Police used the fact that he passed his exams as evidence that he was rational and sane.
After being taken into custody, the baby-faced killer denied everything. But after his surviving victims all identified him as their attacker, he cheerfully confessed to everything. He said he committed the murders because it gave him a sense of pleasure, and he enjoyed drinking his victims’ blood as they lay dying. He even studied books of human anatomy to figure out where to place his knife.
The murders thrilled him and gave some spark to his “heavy, dull and colorless” life, he said. He felt no remorse at all.
Kot’s rifle coach was outraged at first when he heard that such a fine young athlete had been arrested. Surely this was a miscarriage of justice. After Kot confessed, however, his devastated coach wrote to him in prison, asking him to return his rifle medals because he was unworthy of them.
In his final interview, Kot said, “Soon, where I’m going, I’ll meet with my victims, and we can speak. Here on Earth, I have no one to talk to.”
Kot was sentenced to death, but his sentence was reduced to life imprisonment on appeal due to his youth. However, after the General Prosecutor intervened, the death sentence was reinstated and Kot was hanged.
On autopsy, a large tumor was found in his brain. It had gone undiagnosed in life. Whether this was the reason for Kot’s sadism is anyone’s guess.