VILNIUS - On April 24, some 5,000 people came to Garliava in Kaunas region for the funeral of 38-year old Drasius Kedys, the alleged killer, who was wanted by police and glorified by a large part of Lithuanians. It was standing room-only in the local church during the farewell Mass. Some people who attended the funeral decorated their cars with Lithuanian tricolors and black ribbons. One woman unsuccessfully tried to jump into the hole prepared for Kedys’ grave in the cemetery but was stopped by other Kedys fans. Middle aged women prevented some TV crews from filming because those women considered those TV stations as not Kedys-friendly. Kedys’ coffin was met with applause in the cemetery. Lithuania is divided into two camps: some say that Kedys was a hero fighting against the pedophiles’ clan, while others say that Kedys was a psychopath and bandit. However, very few believe in the prosecutors’ official version of Kedys’ death.
In this Twin Peaks-style case, Kedys, who kept saying his young daughter was the victim of pedophiles, gunned down a Kaunas judge and his daughter’s aunt in October last year and officially remained at large until his death. Now the alleged pedophilia case goes to court. Prosecutors say there is no evidence of child molestation in the case, except for video ‘confessions’ of Kedys’ daughter, which were made and staged by Kedys himself.
Kedys corpse was found on April 17, during the traditional annual action “Let’s do it 2010” when 170,000 volunteers throughout Lithuania, including Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite and Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, were collecting rubbish in parks and forests, working to clean up Lithuania’s environment. A group of sea scouts came to clean the environment near the village of Slienava in the Kaunas region. A fisherman sitting at the nearby Kaunas lagoon told Violeta Navalinskiene, chief of that group of scouts, that he saw something which looks like a dead body in the nearby forest. They both went to look at that body and informed the police.
On April 20, Kedys’ cousin Sonata Zukauskiene read a short story on the Web site delfi.lt that a body of a dead man was found near Kaunas. She called Kedys’ aunts, Audrone Skuciene and Birute Steponkeviciene, telling them that she had a very terrifying dream recently and asked them to go to the mortuary to check if that body was Kedys. They went and despite statements from the mortuary’s personnel that it was not Kedys’ corpse, they demanded to see the body. Both aunts recognized Kedys immediately. Skuciene said that she recognized him from his face as well as a big mole on his shoulder and the colorful tattoo of a dragon near his private parts, made in recent years.
Both aunts told Lithuania’s TV3 that they were sure that Kedys was planned to be buried in secret as an unrecognized corpse. They also stated that they believe that Kedys was arrested one-and-a-half months ago. Their proof is very indirect: one-and half months ago, prosecutor Egidijus Palaima called Kedys’ relatives asking if they would have a lawyer for Kedys; one-and-a-half months ago, the main suspect in the so-called pedophilia case stated that he would like to refuse the state-provided armed protection for himself. Skuciene, who is a hairdresser, said that Kedys stopped cutting his hair short and started to color it dark brown as a disguise. She said that his hair had not been colored for one-and-a-half months - she made this professional calculation from the length of his grey roots.
Both aunts said that they saw traces of violence on Kedys’ face and neck. The behavior of law and order institutions looks even more suspicious because of a pistol - Baikal Izh 79-8 - with which a Kaunas judge and aunt of Kedys’ daughter were shot dead in October last year, was found near the corpse. Usually killers do not carry the gun with which they committed a crime. That Baikal Izh 79-8, manufactured to fire teargas pellets, was converted into a gun to shoot live bullets. The gun was loaded with 7 bullets. Usually such illegally converted guns are thrown away after firing several shots because they become dangerous - they can explode in the hands of the owner, according to journalist Ruta Janutiene.
On April 22, Raimondas Petrauskas, interim prosecutor general, stated during his press conference that according to the Lithuanian Forensic Science Center, Kedys choked to death while probably heavily drinking alcohol. Petrauskas said that there are no traces of violence on Kedys and there was a lot of alcohol in his blood.
Kedys’ relatives hired an unnamed expert from the Kaunas clinics who stated that Kedys was beaten and strangled. They said that their expert will testify in court in case of such necessity.
On April 23, President Grybauskaite visited the National Library in Vilnius and gave a short briefing during which she also spoke about the Kedys case. “There was a lot of imitation of work,” she said pointing out to the prosecutors’ work - they were searching for Kedys in the UK, Spain and Russia while the corpse was found close to his home near Kaunas.
On April 23, Kestutis Betingis, chief prosecutor of the Kaunas region prosecutor office, organized his press conference to say that Paulauskas asked him to leave his post because of some order from above. Betingis did not specify if that ‘above’ was Grybauskaite. “I asked him to give some arguments and motives. He answered ‘in the name of calm’,” Betingis said stating that he will not leave his post.
Last week, Kedys’ friend Albertas Zilius, 48, returned from his half-a-year long stay in Greece and was arrested for a short time - prosecutors have suspicions that last October he could have assisted Kedys in the double murder. Zilius denies such accusations. He said that in Greece he was attacked and beaten by a Lithuanian-speaking group of unknown people. Zilius said that he thinks that those attackers could be from the Lithuanian State Security Department. Zilius’ way of thinking could be understood from his interview to Baltijos TV, where he stated that “only pedophiles, lesbians and gays” are in the Lithuanian government - it explains the situation with the Kedys case, according to him. Zilius said that he has no doubts that Kedys was killed.
Earlier Zilius, who lives in the Curonian Spit, spoke more about his relation with Kedys. He and Kedys became friends after their drunken fight over a girl in a local bar. After beating each other in the face, they became close friends and water-sport business partners. Zilius, in his earlier TV interview, said that Kedys was such a friend with whom he could “drink and vomit together.”
Kedys became famous last October. On Oct. 5, at 8:30 a.m., the black Mercedes-Benz of Kaunas District Court Judge Jonas Furmanavicius, 47, was slightly hit by a white Volkswagen Transporter van when the judge was driving out of his yard. When Furmanavicius got out of his car, he was shot several times. A killer was a man who came out of Volkswagen Transporter. Four hours later the body of Violeta Naruseviciene, 29, was found near her house by her then eight-year-old daughter who had come back from school. Naruseviciene was shot dead with four shots between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. A Beretta pistol was found near her body. The pistol was registered under Kedys’ name.
Kedys’ tragedy started with the three-year-long row between Kedys and his attractive former girlfriend Laimute Stankunaite, now 24, over their daughter, now six years old. Three years ago, Kedys took his daughter from kindergarten without Stankunaite’s permission and refused to return her to Stankunaite.
Later, a court in Kaunas stated that Kedys has better material conditions than the mother to take care of the daughter and he was entitled to live with the daughter. Kedys could have had good legal advice at home because his sister, Neringa Venckiene, is a judge (working in the same office as the murdered Furmanavicius), and her husband, Aidas Venckus is a famous lawyer.
In 2006, Stankunaite contacted Andrius Usas, a businessman and then also aide to Parliament Chairman Viktoras Muntianas. Usas assisted Stankunaite in the courts and successfully helped her to regain custody of her daughter from Kedys.
However, later, Stankunaite signed an agreement with Kedys allowing him to keep his daughter in his and his parents’ house. In November, 2008, Kedys handed to Kaunas prosecutors a complaint about the sexual exploitation of his daughter.
Several months ago, Kedys started to run his Web site, where he posted his own homemade video confessions of his daughter. Kedys also was sending this material to President Grybauskaite, MPs, Ministry of Justice, Lithuanian members of European Parliament, prosecutors and foreign embassies.
Kedys accused Furmanavicius, Usas, and a man only named as Aidas of participating in pedophiliac orgies with his daughter and then the seven-year-old daughter of Stankunaite’s sister Naruseviciene. He accused Stankunaite and Naruseviciene of receiving money from pedophiles in exchange for sex with their daughters. According to journalist Arnas Klivecka, Kedys told him that he also has some video material with which he could blame some high standing elite persons of pedophilia.
Usas is the only person whom prosecutors accused of sexual exploitation, and he awaits trial. Kedys’ daughter lives with Venckiene, not Stankunaite, because of the court’s decision after the double murder of Oct. 5. Stankunaite fights legal battles for the return of her daughter.
Darius Kuolys, director of the Civil Society Institute, suggested to Paskutine Instancija, an LNK TV program, that Usas could be closely related to the State Security Department. Other personalities of this majestic drama are also rather colorful. According to journalist Valdas Vasiliauskas, Naruseviciene could have been a former stripper in Italy, while her former husband with whom she was divorced, preserving the same husband-and-wife relations, lived mostly in Germany and was arrested many times for car theft. Recently, Naruseviciene had her dogs’ farm business in her household.
Kedys was making a living in the fur trade in Russia, without paying taxes. Several years ago, Furmanavicius was a judge in the trial of Enrikas Daktaras, son of now imprisoned Henrikas Daktaras who is the alleged boss of the most notorious Kaunas criminal gang. There is speculation in the media that the gang could use the Kedys story to kill Furmanavicius.
According to Stankunaite, Kedys had a habit of sniffing powder, i.e. using drugs. Stankunaite told the daily Lietuvos Rytas that Usas is not guilty and the entire horror story, which left behind three corpses, was inspired and orchestrated by judge Venckiene, who had tremendous influence on her brother Drasius Kedys.
According to social surveys, Kedys was the second most popular person in Lithuania - only President Grybauskaite was ahead of him. Earlier, the prosecutor general as well as the head of the state-run child protection agency were forced to leave their posts due to the Kedys story. According to April 23 phone voting on LNK TV, 88 percent of Lithuanians do not trust the version of Kedys’ death which was announced by the interim prosecutor general.