Why are we showing this photograph of 67-year-old Smail Tulja being led away from police officers in Montenegro? Because Tulja is suspected of being a serial killer, one of his victims a Bronx woman who was mutilated 17 years ago. Parts of Beal's body were found near the Brooklyn Navy Yard in September 1990, and over the course of two decade investigation, authorities in New York and abroad found Tulja could be involved with as many as eight murders.
Beal was a 61-year-old Yugoslav immigrant and widow who worked as a real estate broker and translator. Her friends reported her missing when she wasn't seen walking her dogs or at her office. Her neighbor Virginia Leith told the NY Times in 1990, "Mary used to say, 'If you ever don't see me with the dogs for one day, come looking for me.'''
The Post has a fascinating history of what happened with the investigation. Tulja, a cab driver, knew the victim and was a suspect in the murder. He also had "11 [prior] arrests in The Bronx and Manhattan for crimes including assault and attempted murder." But the police didn't have enough evidence to charge him until 1995, and when they went to arrest him, he was gone. Brooklyn North Homicide Detective Dennis Singleton traced Tulja to Belgium, who mentioned that five women were stabbed and dismembered since Tulja fled there. But then Tulja disappeared from Belgium.
When the Beal case went to the Cold Case Squad, Detective John Osorio happened to have been at a training session where an FBI agent was discussing the "recent unsolved homicides of two women in Albania who'd been stabbed and dismembered." The NYPD, Interpol and FBI worked with Montegrin authorities to locate Tulja, who was found because he had submitted his fingerprint tried to apply for a government job in Montenegro.
While it's unclear whether Tulja will be extradited, his arrest brings relief. Detective Singleton told the Post, "That's great, great news," while Leith said, "It's been a long time waiting to hear. I'm glad to know they finally solved the case."
We interviewed Stacy Horn, who wrote a book about the NYPD's Cold Case squad called The Restless Sleep. She said, "It was astounding to me to learn what information cops and detectives DIDN'T have easy access to. The information was there, but they sometimes had to wait days and weeks to get it."
Photograph of Tulja being escorted by police by Risto Bozovic/AP