Andrzej KOMARNICZKI, aka Andy KOMARNICKI

 

 

At about 7.30pm on Saturday 12 January 1980, Andrzej KOMARNICZKI, aka, Andy KOMARNICKI, left his residence at St George to travel to his business premises for the purposes of checking refrigeration equipment and he has not been seen since. His motor vehicle was found abandoned at a weir near the banks of the Balonne River some 300 metres from his business. The vehicle was unlocked and the keys were in the ignition switch. Despite a massive police and civilian search in the St George District no trace of Andrzej KOMARNICZKI or his remains have been found.

Any member of the public with information which could assist Police is asked to contact crimestoppers on 1800 333 000

 

QUEENSLAND POLICE SERVICE

MISSING - SUSPECTED MURDER OF ANDRZEJ KOMARNICZKI

$250,000 REWARD

REWARD: The Minister for Police and Corrective Services has approved a reward of $250,000 be offered for information which leads to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the disappearance and suspected murder of Andrzej KOMARNICZKI at St George on 12 January 1980.

INDEMNITY FROM PROSECUTION: In addition, an appropriate indemnity from prosecution will be recommended for any accomplice, not being the person who actually committed the crime, who first gives such information. The allocation of the $250,000 reward will be at the sole discretion of the Commissioner of the Police Service.

CIRCUMSTANCES: At about 7.30pm on Saturday 12 January 1980, Andrzej KOMARNICZKI, aka, Andy KOMARNICKI, left his residence at St George to travel to his business premises for the purposes of checking refrigeration equipment and he has not been seen since. His motor vehicle was found abandoned at a weir near the banks of the Balonne River some 300 metres from his business. The vehicle was unlocked and the keys were in the ignition switch. Despite a massive police and civilian search in the St George District no trace of Andrzej KOMARNICZKI or his remains have been found. Any member of the public with information which could assist Police is asked to contact:

the Homicide Investigation Group, Brisbane, Phone (07) 3364 6122;

any Police Station; or

Crime Stoppers, Phone 1800 333 000.

Office of the Commissioner of the Police Service, BRISBANE

R ATKINSON

COMMISSIONER

 

ANDREW KOMARNICKI. (Andrzej KOMARNICZKI)

https://www.australiaskangaroos.org/the-meat-substitution-racket

 

 

Just one month after the Judds were last seen alive, another person involved in the Kangaroo industry also vanished. One of the wealthiest people in south-west Queensland, Andrew Komanarki operated the St. George kangaroo works. He had business interests spanning all three eastern states.

On Friday January 11, he withdrew $35,000 in cash from his local bank. That wasn't unusual. Komanarki had a reputation for carrying large wads of cash to pay his shooters. In fact Komanarki had a reputation for only paying in cash and because he always paid top dollar, shooters came from as far afield as Bourke in New South Wales with roo carcasses. In fact the convergence of dozens of Kangaroo shooters at St. George, most weekends had become well-known to locals.

Komanarki's activities on the Saturday evening fitted his normal pattern. After watching the TV news at home he drove down to his stores. He made the trip every night to check security. He was never seen alive again. Within hours of his failure to return home, the alarm was raised. The next morning his abandoned four-wheel drive was found by the Balonne River, immediately adjacent to the meatworks. No body was ever recovered.

Over forty witnesses were called to the inquest. It heard that Komanarki possessed a seven shot 32 caliber Browning automatic pistol, which he always carried. This was due to his well-known fears for his life. Who had threatened him wasn't known, but as his main income came from the sale of Kangaroo products it was believed to have been a business rival.

Although it was obvious Komanarki had been murdered, most clues and theories put foreword as explanations were dismissed. The most likely clue was an incident two days prior to the disappearance. A man in bib overalls was seen lurking near the factory. He ran off when two people collecting bottles approached. The man had been seen in a crouching position as if carrying a gun.

Coroner Raymond Massingham found that Komanarki had been murdered and his body disposed of in a place unknown. In 1981, the executive of the Australian Cattleman's Union, Rick Farley, said his life had been threatened because of his investigations into meat frauds. He stated he believed there had been a link between Kangaroo meat in export beef packages and Komanarki's disappearance. Farley said he believed Komanarki had either uncovered or was involved in fraud in the Kangaroo meat industry prior to his disappearance. Farley noted a Queensland company had sent about 20 tonnes of pet food a week to a single Melbourne company, some of which was finding its way into the fast food market, including Dim Sims. Other meat had been illegally exported.

Livanes alleged that most of Komanarki's meat was sold to Vacik and associated companies, including Wattle Glen. He said he'd only once done business with Komanarki before Komanarki went back to selling all his production to Vacik. He also noted Komanarki's ability to get roos from shooters even when others couldn't, due to the higher prices he paid. Livanes also believed that Komanarki's meatworks must have been a money laundering operation as the prices he paid for carcasses was unrealistic.

In 1986, it was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that Komanarki was on the verge of gaining a valuable new skins market. An insider in the industry had said 'there is no doubt he was bumped off because he was proving too successful and treading on two many toes. With him out of the way you had a huge slice of the Queensland trade up for grabs'.

Three months prior to his disappearance, Komanarki had rang investigative journalist Bob Bottom from a flat in Bondi, Sydney where he told Bottom he was 'in real trouble' and feared for his life. It was also reported in The Sydney Morning Herald that Komanarki's death had been linked to police records of meetings between a major Kangaroo figure and one of the 'Mr. Bigs' of Sydney's underworld. Two days before his disappearance, Komanarki had been visited by a man with close business connections with 'Mr. Big'.

Following Komanarki's death, his former business partner, Steve Margaritis, avoided talking to the media. He said 'If I talk to you, I won't be able to sell any of my products'.

In 1992, Steve Gordon stated that the deaths of the Judds and Komanarki were connected and by the same people. Gordon claimed that Komanarki had in fact been put through the pet-food mincer at his meatworks. Police have since rejected this explanation. According to Gordon he was shown human remains of Komanarki and his boots, and told that the body had been mixed up with other meat. Gordon said, 'I got real sick you know, I stopped dead in my tracks'. He was too scared to go to the police as he'd been told that he was next in line to be murdered. He said 'Police never got none of this yet, you know, I was gone'. In 1992, Gordon named particular N.P.W.S. officials as being behind the murders, but when subsequently approached by investigators, refused to provide details due to fears for his life. Others have said that Komanarki is still alive and in hiding, stating that he disappeared before he could be killed.

The riddle of Andrew Komonarki continues and his family are still looking for answers

 

'Kangaroo King' cold case: Andy Komarnicki's family still searching for answers 37 years on

ABC Radio National 
By Elly Bradfield for Earshot

Posted 

Roo meat pies, organised crime and 1980s Queensland cops: the disappearance of the Kangaroo King had everything.

It made headlines around Australia almost 40 years ago but in the small town of St George, they've never stopped talking about it.

Andy Komarnicki was the owner of a kangaroo processing plant in the small Queensland town, where dead roos became pet food for hungry dogs all along the eastern seaboard.

One night in January 1980, he made a routine trip to check on chiller rooms on the town's outskirts.

His family haven't seen him since.

And despite a $250,000 reward for information and the proliferation of countless theories they're still no closer to finding answers.

Komarnicki feared he would be 'knocked off'

According to police, Mr Komarnicki's car was found abandoned at a weir near the banks of the Balonne River, about 300 metres away from his business. It was unlocked, and the keys were still in the ignition.

His stepson, Frank Poplawski, remembers going to the business the next morning with his brother, and looking from the gate to the main road.

"He must have walked out to the main road, because there were lots of footprints on the main road. He had flat soled shoes on," Mr Poplawski says.

"I'm guessing that someone pulled up on the road or someone was there and I reckon that's where they grabbed him."

The family believes it must have been someone who knew the Kangaroo King.

Mr Poplawski says his stepfather was concerned prior to his disappearance that someone was "going to knock him off".

"But he would never talk to you about it," he says.

"Things were not bright, right from the word go. Someone had definitely got rid of him."

Involved in a meat racket

One theory is that Mr Komarnicki's death may be linked to his involvement in Australia's notorious meat substitution racket, exposed in the early 80s.

Mr Komarnicki's stepson says while meat from the St George processing plant was intended for pet food, it was also used for human consumption.

"We used to process a couple of hundred roos per day, so that's a lot of skins and a lot of meat that's going somewhere," Mr Poplawski says.

"I'm definitely sure it wasn't all going to pet.

"When you would see those ads on TV advertising the pies [Mr Komarnicki] said 'that's my meat' and he wasn't joking.

"I think they were using it for human consumption then."

The meat substitution scandal erupted into the national consciousness in 1981, when an American food inspector found suspected horse meat in imported Australian "beef".

A royal commission followed, revealing the practice of passing off pet-grade horse and kangaroo meat as fit for human consumption was widespread.

Mr Komarnicki wasn't named in the inquiry. By then, he had been missing for more than a year.

Kangaroo shooter Dick Kingdom the number one suspect for a short time believes a link to the racket was behind the disappearance.

His theory is that Mr Komarnicki's competitors arranged a "hit".

"He was selling to supermarkets in Sydney and they were making pies out of it," he says.

"It sort of folded after he went. There was no opposition no more."

Is he really dead?

The missing person case remains a talking point in St George, where everyone has a theory about what happened to Mr Komarnicki.

"Everybody was walking around, wondering if they were going to be next, who was going to be interviewed, who was coming from where," another kangaroo shooter, Ward Curtis, remembers.

"There was talk that people from overseas got him, that he was an assassinator in the war and all this type of caper.

"Nobody would sneak up on Andy because he always had a gun Everybody knew it."

As a body was never found, some locals suspect Mr Komarnicki survived the night, leaving town in secret in a plane.

Another rumour is that Mr Komarnicki's body was destroyed in the processing plant.

"A lot of people thought, 'someone's done the wrong thing and put him through the mincer'," local teacher Donna Worboys, who uses the story in her history lessons, says.

Calls to reopen the case

Ken Morris, a police officer in St George in the 1970s, was brought back to the town to investigate the disappearance.

He says there was no indication of a plane in St George that night, and tests on the mincer at the kangaroo works found no evidence of human remains.

An inquest in 1981 found insufficient evidence to name a suspect, concluding only that Mr Komarnicki had likely been abducted or led away from his business.

But Mr Morris says if DNA testing had been available at the time, they might have solved the case.

"There were no witnesses that we could find that saw Andy in his vehicle prior to disappearance, or saw his vehicle down there with Andy in it, or in the vicinity," he says.

"It was difficult because the territory around St George is full of old wells and places where it would be easy to dispose of a body.

"We got divers out to check the river; those enquiries were fruitless. It's probably something that the cold case squad should have a look at."

The missing man's family, too, believe that key evidence was missed in the initial investigation.

"I think because it's a small country town, you don't expect anything to happen, so therefore you don't have a forensic team around the corner," Mr Komarnicki's stepdaughter, Judy Knight, says.

"Who's going to expect anything like this to happen?

"How does somebody walk out a door and not come back?"

The family is still hopeful that the mystery will be solved but until then, the stories will continue to circulate in St George.