Woman says she chewed through ropes to escape

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A man accused of killing his estranged wife had tied up another woman in his Highlandtown home before the killing, according to court records, and the captive told police she chewed through the ropes and escaped after the man showed her his wife's body.

Charging documents released Monday allege that Lukasz Szkiluk, a 63-year-old painting contractor, had the other woman — described by police only as his girlfriend — bound in his home when he killed 38-year-old Karolina Derezinska-Szkiluk early Saturday morning in the 200 block of S. Haven St.

A relative of the slain Derezinska-Szkiluk said she and Szkiluk had been married for about seven years after she arrived in the country from Poland. But she had moved out and they were in the process of divorcing, said Jan Derezinska, who identified himself as her uncle. She was studying at Coppin State University.

Szkiluk has no attorney listed in court records, and nobody came to the door at his home.

The domestic killing unfolded on a strip of homes overlooking an industrial area at the edge of Highlandtown. Szkiluk's home, which state records say was purchased in 1999 for $13,000, stands out from the others on the block with blue shutters, a second-floor rear deck and a newer-looking garage. None of his neighbors answered their doors.

According to police, a woman identified only as Szkiluk's girlfriend said she and Szkiluk were drinking late in the evening on Friday and that he told her he wanted her to "take care of some things while he was visiting family in Poland."

He pulled out a silver gun and pointed it at her, then tied her to a bed and went downstairs, records show. While he was downstairs, she could hear him talking to someone on the phone and telling them to come over.

Later, the door opened and the woman could hear the voice of Szkiluk's wife, Karolina, and she heard a "pop," according to the charging documents. Szkiluk then came upstairs.

"I did it," he told the girlfriend, the records show.

Szkiluk untied the woman, bound her hands with duct tape and took her downstairs, police wrote in court papers. He pulled a blanket off a chair to reveal Derezinska-Szkiluk suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest.

The woman was forced back upstairs and tied to a bed again. She told police she fell asleep for a short period of time, and when she awoke, Szkiluk was gone. She chewed through the ropes, freeing herself, and called 911, police said.

Szkiluk was taken into custody after he returned to the home, said Det. Angela Carter-Watson, a police spokeswoman. He was charged with first-degree murder and related charges, and is being held without bond.

Court records show his only previous arrests were for urinating in public in 2005, and a theft under $300 charge in 1997. He was not convicted of either charge.

Derezinska-Szkiluk came to the United States from Poland about eight years ago, Jan Derezinska said. He said he sponsored her and she attended Towson University.

He said that he believed that she met Szkiluk, a painting contractor, through the area Polish community and that they had been married for seven years. But court records show a woman had twice filed domestic violence charges against Szkiluk between 2008 and 2010, saying they had been in a "dating relationship" and that he was stalking her. A judge granted a protective order in that case.

It was not clear whether that woman was the same person who was tied up on Saturday.

Jan Derezinska said the victim was slated to earn a nursing degree in December, and officials with the University System of Maryland confirmed that she was enrolled at Coppin State. The family plans to have a small viewing and take her remains to Poland, he said.

"Right now I'm getting in touch with lawyers to pursue whatever legal avenues there are," Jan Derezinska said. "That's all we can do. I can't shoot him myself."