When Mary Beal went missing from New York City on September 15, 1990, her family members remained hopeful for her safe return. However, their worst fears were confirmed when her remains were found in three garbage bags about three weeks after the incident. Paramount+’s ‘FBI True: The Bronx Butcher’ chronicles the heinous murder and follows the investigation that brought the perpetrator to justice. If you are intrigued about the details surrounding this case and want to learn more, we have you covered.
How Did Mary Beal Die?
A resident of the neighborhood of Norwood in New York City, Yugoslavian native Mary Beal was 61-years-old at the time of her murder. Neighbors and acquaintances described Mary as a lively and generous lady who treated others with kindness and maintained a friendly relationship with most others around her. Moreover, while Mary earned a living as a translator and real estate broker, she was known for walking all six of her dogs regularly. In fact, one of Mary’s neighbors later mentioned that the victim told her to come looking if she missed walking her dogs, even for a single day. Hence, with Mary being quite a respected member of the community, life appeared perfect for the 61-year-old.
Mary’s neighbors and loved ones were shocked when the 61-year-old went missing from her Norwood home on September 15, 1990. While they realized something was wrong when Mary failed to turn up with her dogs, a few people visited her home, only to find it completely empty. The police were immediately informed, and although detectives organized search parties to comb through the nearby areas, there was no sign of the missing woman. In the weeks that followed, police officers, along with local volunteers, spread out around New York City to look for Mary Beal.
Authorities even used all facilities available and left no stone unturned in the search but to no avail. Mary was nowhere to be found, and her loved ones soon began fearing the worst. About three weeks after Mary went missing, a woman walking along a pavement in New York City found a plastic garbage bag in her way. Yet, when she tried to push the object away with her foot, she saw blood dripping out of the age.
Without wasting any time, the woman called the police, who arrived to find human remains inside. Over the course of the day, detectives found two more similar garbage bags with human remains inside. While it seemed like someone had cut a body up with crude tools, a reconstruction soon revealed that the hands and head were missing. However, law enforcement authorities managed to identify the remains as those of Mary Beal through several DNA tests, even though a direct cause of death was never confirmed.
Who Killed Mary Beal?
The initial investigation into Mary Bear’s murder was pretty challenging as the police had no leads or witnesses to work with. Even though the cops carried out a thorough search of the location where the garbage bags were discovered, it did not lead to an immediate suspect. Moreover, detectives canvassed the area around Mary Beal’s home and even went door to door looking for a witness but to no avail. While most neighbors claimed they saw nothing out of the ordinary on the day Mary went missing, the victim’s acquaintances insisted that Mary maintained a friendly relationship with most, and there was no one who would want to harm her in such a heinous manner.
With no immediate suspect to base the investigation on, the case remained dormant for quite some time. Shortly after, law enforcement officials seemingly got their first significant breakthrough when they learned that the perpetrator was possibly a foreign national. However, sources claimed the murderer had already fled to Country to Southeastern Europe, and there was no possible way to trace him. Surprisingly, just a few years after Mary Beal’s murder, authorities in Mons, Belgium, revealed that they were dealing with a serial killer using the same MO.
While the killer was given the moniker the Butcher of Mons, most of his victims were females who were decapitated and dismembered before being disposed of in plastic garbage bags. Incidentally, the Mons authorities were unable to close down on the killer, although they traced him to the country of Albania. However, since Albania was in the middle of a war at that time, it was impossible to trace the suspect inside an active warzone. Yet, reports mention that Albanian authorities had to deal with two similar murders in 2006, where two women were decapitated and dismembered before being left in plastic garbage bags.
Once the Albanian authorities contacted the United States and began coordinating with the FBI, the investigation proceeded swiftly. Subsequently, law enforcement officials traced the suspect to Montenegro, where he was arrested by local forces in 2007. On top of it, they even identified the suspect as Smail Tulja, a citizen of Montenegro who used the name Smajo Džurlić while in the US.
Where Is Smail Tulja Now?
Unfortunately, Montenegro did not have an extradition treaty with the US, which made it impossible for authorities to bring Smail back to America. However, he was put on trial for the murder of Mary Beal in Montenegro, and after much consideration, the court convicted Smail and sentenced him to 12 years in prison in June 2010. While the show mentioned that Smail has since been released after serving the complete sentence, he prefers to keep his personal life under wraps. Still, recent developments make it seem like Smail Tulja is currently residing in the country of Montenegro.