LOS ANGELES/CHICAGO - Suicide or murder? Why did he die? What happened? Show us his body. For several months these questions have been haunting Kamil Szybinski's parents and friends.

On September 17, 2002, about 10:30, while walking on the beach by the ocean, Charles Edward Mulhearn noticed a helicopter circling above the rock called Inspiration Point. When he walked towards the spot above which the helicopter was hovering, he found the body of Kamil Pawel Szybinski lying at the foot of the rock. The body of Kamil Szybinski was face up, on his backpack, on the bed-rock about 15 meters away from the 30-meter high cliff, near the ocean. 19-year old Kamil had been a student at a private college, Marymount College in Rancho Palos Verdes near Los Angeles.

The coroner and Charles Morales, a homicide detective called to the scene, declared right away that it was a suicide caused by "homesickness." Their statements had been printed the following day in the local papers.

Kamil's parents, who arrived from Poland to claim his body, have serious and substantiated doubts about this interpretation of the cause of death of their son. For five months they have been trying to get an explanation of what had happened. The coroner's office did not agree to their request to identify the body.

Editor's Note: On January 28, 2003, "Dziennik Rzeczpospolita" published an editorial Suicide or Murder by Krzysztof Darewicz, their Washington correspondent. This editorial played a crucial role in the attempts to find out what led to the tragic death of 19-year old Kamil Szybinski. Mr. Darewiecz asked me to help the Szybinski family during their visit to Chicago. A few days later Mr. Krzysztof Szybinski arrived in Chicago, a city where his son was born in 1983, to seek assistance of the Polish community in Chicago. In his search and efforts to find support in the Polish community he was assisted by a reporter from Expatpol. This editorial is based on Kamil's father's personal account of events, the coroner's report and other official documents and interviews with experts.

The Tragic News about Kamil's Death

Kamil's mother, his father, Krzysztof Szybinski, and older brother, were in shock when, on September 19, they received news of the death of their son and brother. The news was delivered to them by police on behalf of the Polish Consulate in LA. The Szybinski falmily kept in touch with one another by frequent e-mails. Kamil's father often talked to his son on the phone. Kamil had been in the US, where he enrolled in college, only a few weeks. Kamil's family pulled all their resources to help him realize his educational and career goals.

Kamil had a lot of accomplishments: he was a young man with many life experiences for someone his age; a man full of vitality, eager to explore the world, not afraid of risks. He came to USA last year to begin studies at a private college. His passion was travel. He managed to visit 35 countries on all continents, including Antarctica, and wrote about his experiences on a website (www.dookolaswiata.pl), which he helped create. He was also Poland's junior
champion in skateboarding. He was fluent in English, French, and Spanish.

This is what his friends say about him:

[…] Kamil was one of us… one of those young people who want to pursue their dreams and enjoy every moment of their lives… and he was so close to fulfilling his dreams […]

[…] Kameo, you always wanted to be the best […]

[…] I knew you only through films, shows, and newspaper articles about skateboarding… you were exceptional. Since I fell in love with skateboarding, I always wanted to get to know you […]

Suicide, a tragic accident, or murder?
Police maintains that 19-year old Kamil committed suicide, but many circumstances point to an accident or even murder.
The private investigator Jan Small told Expatpol that he does not believe it was suicide. He is an experienced detective, who investigated deaths of Americans outside USA. He is committed to continuing the investigation. Kamil talked to his father at 3:00 a.m., when he couldn't fall asleep. He was seen 45 minutes before the time of his death near the school, which is 7 km away from the cliff. How could he have reached the cliff in such a short time, without a car? Who could have driven him there? The road to the cliff is especially winding and bumpy, and there is no bus route.
Kamil's body was found as far as 15 meters from the cliff, which is 30 meters high. If the police version, that Kamil jumped from the cliff, were true, first he would have to, as can be calculated, gain the speed of at least 20 km/h, while wearing a backpack weighing 4 kg.
On September 17, an unidentified individual made two phone calls from the campus phone, at 12:02 (for about 1 minute) and at 12:09 (for about 3 minutes). This anonymous caller tried to call Kamil's grandmother in Warsaw, whose phone number was known only to Kamil. These phone calls had not been completed, since no one picked up the phone. Did the mysterious caller know the cause of Kamil's death?
In her entry in Kamil's diary one of his friends referred to an "accident." Did she have some knowledge about this tragedy? Why won't she speak out? Is she being pressured?
When we were sending our son to study abroad for the money we worked so hard for in Poland, we did not realize that candor, sincerity, and personal pride could bring on a tragedy. We are more and more convinced that Kamil died in circumstances that involved his college friends. His father says that Kamil's body was transported and placed in such a way as to suggest suicide. The coroner's office so far has not allowed parents to identify the body, first saying that this had been done earlier by the school's vice-president, and then, that in the morgue "there are no conditions for that." Last Tuesday, on February 4, Kamil's father was informed that the clothing of the deceased had been burnt. A few weeks prior to that the body was almost incinerated, which of course would have rendered impossible ever solving this case. Thanks to the coincidence and quick intervention by the Polish Consulate in Los Angeles, this has been prevented. Kamil's family has been given 30 more days, starting January 24, to keep the body in the morgue.

This case is still entangled in doubts and bureaucracy. To this day Kamil's parents have not had the opportunity to identify his body. Is this in accordance with the law, not to let parents see the body?
The accident report, even after a cursory, lay analysis, reveals unprecedented negligence on the part of the coroner conducting the autopsy. First he maintains that the body was clothed, then, that he did not see clothing; that the deceased was circumcised, and that his front teeth were damaged, and at the same time he says that there were no face injuries; that no evidence was collected at the scene, and at the same time that some "notes" have been found, etc.
The autopsy report includes a description of a large wound in the back, several inches wide (12-14 cm), and 7 inches long.
The report concludes that Kamil committed suicide, although the state law says that the coroner cannot, even in the absence of evidence, exclude the possibility of murder.
The Polish Consulate in LA has joined the efforts to solve this case. The Consulate tries to provide Kamil's parents with all available legal assistance, but they have to overcome most bureaucratic hurdles in the foreign country on their own. The information gathered so far sheds not light on what Kamil had been doing in the morning on the day he died, how and when he got to school, or how and when he got to the Inspiration Point.

-Above the Divisions, that was Kamil's motto.
More and more individuals and institutions join forces to help Kamil's parents. This is about help for parents in despair, as well as finding an answer as to how to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
Kamil's mother and father want to find an independent expert to conduct another autopsy. They want police to re-open the investigation, and conduct interviews with Kamil's friends, who probably know a lot about the last events in Kamil's life.
We seek pathologists within the Polish community who know how to deal with the American law and would like to offer their help.
In America, all this is extremely difficult without filing a lawsuit, and without hiring an attorney. This entails enormous costs, which Kamil's parents cannot afford to pay. Many individuals and institutions, as well and local Polish-language media in Chicago, declared their willingness to help.
Kamil's parents have found a way to transport their son's body to Poland. They want to do it after the independent autopsy had been done.
Perhaps the satellite pictures taken that day on the very spot where Kamil died by the land-surveying company could help in solving the mystery of this tragic death… Will they ever be made available to the family of the deceased?

This is what Kamil's father wrote in his letter to the editor of Expatpol in Chicago:
[…] - Of course people die in accidents. I am deeply saddened by the tragedy of the American space shuttle. This is another tragedy for many American, and not only American, families. But these families are assured that they will learn the truth about this event. I still don't have this assurance. I have accepted my son's death. I know that no one can bring Him back to life. However, I am hoping that in the country where he lost his life, and whose citizenship he held, I will finally find people who will correct mistakes done during the investigation of Kamil's death […].

[…] - I hope that we, as parents, have the right to learn the truth. That we have that right despite being only Poles, as we have been told. Unfortunately, our wonderful son Kamil, a Polish as well as an American citizen, cannot claim his rights from beyond the grave. The question remains then - are our hopes in vain? We hope not. They do not have to be. So God help us. May the truth be uncovered. We are sure and have proof that there are people who know that truth. And someone has to be found at last who will, according to the law of state of California, force them to speak. We as a family cannot do much, but we want to know the truth.

Krzysztof Szybinski and family,
Los Angeles, February 2

@Andrzej Mikolajczyk

Published by: Marcin
Art Ref: 7569"

Link to the original article

Contact Krzysztof Szybinski: szybinski@post.pl - USA