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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tragic News about Kamil's Death
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.
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
champion in skateboarding. He was fluent in English, French, and Spanish.
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 [
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.
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
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
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?
is what Kamil's father wrote in his letter to the editor of Expatpol in
] - 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.
Szybinski and family,
Los Angeles, February 2
Art Ref: 7569"
to the original article
Krzysztof Szybinski: firstname.lastname@example.org