Donald Zakrzewski: Burglar Falls Into Landfill and Dies Fleeing Homeowner, Cops

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Police chief Rich Wooten calls it one of the most unusual incidents he's seen during his 26 years serving the St. Louis suburb of Ladue.

At 11:45 p.m. Saturday a homeowner in the 9700 block of Old Warson called Wooten's department to report a burglary. The man had just returned from an evening out to discover a thief fleeing from his home with jewelry and electronics. 

"We did what we do," says Wooten. "We showed up with the lights and sirens."

Zakrzewski was found at the base of this 50-60 foot cliff in the old quarry, now used as a landfill.
Zakrzewski was found at the base of this 50-60 foot cliff in the old quarry, now used as a landfill.
For the next couple hours police searched the nearby neighborhood, even employing a K-9 unit from nearby Maryland Heights to help track the intruder. Eventually, though, the cops gave up the search -- assuming the burglar had gotten away.

Flash forward some 30 hours later. Workers arriving to their Monday morning shift at the Rock Hill Quarries (located just a few hundred yards from Saturday's burglary) made a gruesome discovery.

Lying at the base of a 50 to 60 foot cliff in the bottom of the quarry lay the body of Donald Zakrzewski, a 42-year-old petty crook from south St. Louis. Found in his pockets and lying scattered nearby were items stolen from the home Saturday night.

"I don't know if he was running or walking," speculates Wooten. "But he had to scale a fence to get inside the quarry. Once inside there, it was dark, and he's was probably unfamiliar with the surroundings."

The old quarry is now used as a landfill. Wooten tells Daily RFT that Zakrzewski had no identification on him, forcing the police to rely on the medical examiner and St. Louis County Police to identify the body.

The Post-Dispatch reports that Zakrzewski, of the 200 block of Marceu near Carondelet Park, is something of a career criminal. Per the daily:

Court records show that Zakrzewski has a history of peace disturbance, marijuana possession and misdemeanor assault. In 1986, he was charged with burglary in St. Louis County. In that case, he pleaded guilty of receiving stolen property and was fined $500.

Just this summer, the St. Louis collector of revenue's office filed suit against Zakrzewski for failure to pay property taxes, as the city had done at least two years previously. He was due in court for the most recent case on Oct. 31.

Zakrzewski was sentenced to five years in prison for eight counts of second-degree burglary, one count of receiving stolen property, one count of attempted second-degree burglary and three counts of stealing over $150.

All of those crimes happened in either St. Louis city or county, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections.

He was in a Missouri prison for two years, from 1987 to 1989. In 1990, he violated parole and returned to prison. He was released from prison again on Sept. 18, 1991, to be supervised by electronic monitoring. He completed his sentence on March 12, 1993.

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