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Video: Police hunt ex-Playboy model’s killer

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    >>> hour, though, with new information and a new video tied to the murder of aspiring model paula sladewski. we're going to talk exclusively to her brother and niece in a moment, but first, nbc's kerry sanders has the latest on this. kerry, good morning to you.

    >> reporter: well, good morning, matt. detectives have now spoken to enough witnesses at the nightclub where paula sladewski was last seen that they're able to actually create a sketch of the person she was last seen with. that sketch likely will be completed in the next day or so. she was a model, and at times, an exotic dancer , once featured in a "playboy" video. paula sladewski, the 26-year-old came to miami on vacation for new year's. a celebration that began at the lady gaga concert. and one row behind paula and her boyfriend, kevin klym, concert-goer john williams . williams shot this 27-second video on his iphone because he says klym was acting so aggressively, it caught his attention.

    >> i wanted to know who this was in case the police, you know, needed to identify someone if he hit me.

    >> reporter: that's paula there, about 60 hours before her body was found burned beyond recognition in a dumpster.

    >> it just was really chilling to think that, you know, here these people were in front of me, and a week later, she's no longer alive.

    >> reporter: and there's this video from a surveillance camera at the nightclub where the two were last seen together. the seven-second clip shows paula leaving the club, those two men behind her, police say, are bouncers. klym, who has a history of domestic violence with paula , was escorted out of the club about 15 minutes earlier. investigators say they now believe his story, that he left alone in a cab and went to his hotel. klym maintains he did nothing wrong. witnesses say paula walked out and another man walked up to her. she left with him, and that's the last she was seen alive.

    >> although we can't say from witnesses' accounts that she walked off with someone, we're not prepared to say the person she walked off with is the murderer in this case.

    >> reporter: between the two videos, witness accounts, possibly more security camera video from the nightclub, and a soon-to-be completed autopsy, which could reveal how she was murdered, detectives say they're hopeful they'll soon answer the mystery who killed paula sladewski. now, paula sladewski's body was dumped 12 miles away from the club where she was last seen. detectives tell me it suggests to them, because it's such a round-about route to get to that final location, that the person who murdered her is likely from this area. meredith ?

    >> kerry sanders , thank you. thomas is paula sladewski's brother, britney is her niece. good morning to both of you and first, may i express our condolences.

    >> thank you.

    >> thank you. good morning, meredith .

    >> thomas , if i could start with you, i know you have looked over that surveillance video trying to come up with any clues as to what happened to your sister. what do you think happened to paula ? on the morning of january 3rd ?

    >> well, i believe paula was abducted. i believe she was stalked. i believe the video shows proof of that. the man that approached her when she got outside the club. there was people standing all around her. you could see the video. you could see people following her out. and if somebody did approach her, they saw it, they know what he looks like, they know what kind of car she got into. there's a lot of information out there that's yet to be disclosed to the police, and i want to plead with anybody from the bottom of my heart, if you have a daughter, if you have a sister, please come forward, tell the police everything you know. the lord will see it and he'll bless you ten fold. and this perpetrator that's responsible for abducting my sister, he could have told her anything, because she was very young and naive and she believed that there was a lot of good in this world, and i told her time and time again that there's also a lot of evil, and that's what you've got to watch out for.

    >> thomas , do you believe that her boyfriend, kevin klym, had anything to do with what happened to her? at this point he is still a person of interest in the minds of the authorities, although they do believe now that he did leave that club and went back to his hotel, as he said he did.

    >> yes, he did leave -- sure. he's guilty of being a coward. that's what i think. i think that -- my sister paid for his plane ticket down there. she paid for everything, the room, the meals they ate. and he was responsible for her. he was responsible for her safety, her wellbeing. he left her there without a cell phone. so, you tell me, meredith . i mean, what kind of respect can you have for a man like that? he left my little sister there to fend for herself. now, had he waited outside that club -- it was only 20 minutes . 20 minutes could have saved her a lifetime. so, yes, i think he's guilty of being a coward. i haven't had a chance to speak to him yet, but i don't want to talk to him just yet, you know? it's beyond control. i wouldn't be responsible for how i would react. so, i've kept my distance from him and i've prayed to god that he gives me the courage to control my emotions, which is at this time what i'm trying to do, is fight the anger that i feel, the betrayal.

    >> and i understand why you would feel tremendous anger and be very upset at this point. obviously, you've lost your sister. brittany, if i can bring you in here, what about the reports of paula and kevin having issues of domestic violence in their relationship? you saw the video that was taken at that concert. the man took it specifically because he thought that kevin klym was acting aggressively. how would you describe their relationship?

    >> well --

    >> i'm asking --

    >> unfortunately for me, i've only met kevin on a couple of occasions. the two occasions that i've seen him on, one of them there were no incidences that took place between him and my little sister . however, there was one at my niece's wedding, who's sitting here to my left. he left her there at that party, too, as well, right after the reception, and i tried talking to paula for a good 30 minutes about her choices in men and that she doesn't have to tolerate abuse and to be neglected by someone like this. she could get anyone she wanted. she was a beautiful -- she just had a freelance personality. she trusted everybody. you tell her you loved her and she believed it.

    >> but i also understand --

    >> she would do anything --

    >> i also understand, thomas , that she was a pretty tough cookie and pretty strong-willed. berateny, let me ask you, do you think she would have put up a fight if anyone had tried to acost her?

    >> absolutely.

    >> oh, absolutely, there's no doubt about it, no doubt in my mind whatsoever. i believe there was a confrontation outside that bar. it would have been very easy for a perpetrator to grab her by her hand, especially if there was a car already in the street waiting for her. i don't believe she walked out willingly with someone after she exited the club. i just -- i'm troubled beyond belief , you know? i lost my little sister , and somewhere out there in miami there's a killer running around, a coward killer. so, my message to the people, watch your daughters, watch your sisters. you've got the super bowl coming down there, you've got spring break right around the corner, and if my little daughter -- i have a step-daughter -- if she come to me and said, "tom, i need money to go down to miami for spring break ," i'm telling her to pick another state, because there's a killer still running around. he's eating, he's breathing, he's living, and it's not fair that my little sister 's dead, burned beyond recognition because of some coward, and that's what he is, a coward.

    >> thomas --

    >> and i challenge him to get a hold of me. try throwing me in a dumpster. let's see how well you fair with that. that's how i feel.

    >> i understand, thomas bussell. i appreciate you being here. brittany pysik as well. thank you both.

    >> you're welcome.

By
TODAY contributor
updated 1/12/2010 9:26:12 AM ET 2010-01-12T14:26:12

The brother of an aspiring model whose charred body was found in a Miami trash bin said newly released surveillance video from the club where she was last seen shows that she was stalked before being abducted and murdered.

Thomas Bussell, brother of the slain woman, Paula Sladewski, told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira Tuesday that that the grainy video from a Miami nightclub shows that other people saw Sladewski leave the club, and that two men were trailing her.

The 7-second video shows a woman with flowing blond hair and wearing a black miniskirt leaving Club Space in Miami on the morning of Jan. 3. Two men, said to be club bouncers, trail her.

That night, a burning body, later identified as Sladewski’s, was found in a trash bin about 12 miles away from the club.

‘Please come forward’
“I believe Paula was abducted. I believe she was stalked,” Bussell said from Michigan after watching the video. “I believe the video shows proof of that ... In the video, you can see people following her out.”

Bussell pleaded with anyone who saw Sladewski leave the club to provide information.

“If somebody did approach her, they saw it, they know what he looks like, they know what kind of car she got into. There’s a  lot of information out there that’s yet to be disclosed to police,” he said. “If you have a sister, if you have a daughter, please come forward. Tell the police everything you know.”

Sladewski, 26, was an aspiring model who had appeared in a Playboy model-search video in 2003. While searching for modeling jobs, she worked as an exotic dancer, splitting her time between her native Garden City, Mich., and California.

Video: Police: Video could lead to break in model's murder case She and her boyfriend, Kevin Klym, 34, had flown to Miami to celebrate the new year, beginning their stay by attending a New Year’s Eve Lady Gaga concert. The early morning of Jan. 3 found them at Club Space.

Grisly discovery
Sometime around 7 a.m., Klym was kicked out of the club. He told police he got in a fight with Sladewski, with whom he had a volatile and sometimes violent relationship, and was escorted out. He also said that Sladewski was intoxicated.

Klym, who had Sladewski’s cell phone, said he left the club in a taxi and went back to his hotel room, which police have confirmed. When the day went by without Sladewski returning, he called her parents in Michigan and then police to report her missing.

The woman believed to be Sladewski is shown leaving the club about 15 or 20 minutes after Klym. Witnesses told police that she left with a man described only as being black. According to an NBC News report by Kerry Sanders, Miami police are working on a sketch of the man and expect to have it ready for release shortly.

TODAY
Surveillance video shows a blond woman believed to be Paula Sladewski leaving a Miami nightclub.
At 9 p.m. Jan. 3, someone reported a fire in a trash container about 12 miles from the club. When the fire was extinguished, charred human remains were discovered. They were so badly burned that investigators could tell neither the race nor the sex of the victim. Sladewski was identified through dental records. The results of an autopsy to determine the cause of death have yet to be released.

Guilty — of cowardice
Bussell blamed Klym for leaving the club and not waiting for Sladewski outside.

Video: Model’s charred remains found in trash bin “He’s guilty of being a coward,” Bussell alleged. “My sister paid for his plane ticket down there. She paid for everything — the room, the meals they ate — and he was responsible for her; responsible for her safety, her well-being. He left her there without a cell phone. What kind of respect can you have for a man like that? He left my little sister there to fend for herself.

“Had he waited for her outside that club — it was only 20 minutes — 20 minutes could have saved her a lifetime,” Bussell added.

No one in Sladewski’s family has suggested Klym killed the woman, but they say the two had a troubled relationship during the two years they were together. Sladewski’s stepfather, Richard Watkins, has said that Klym gave her a broken nose during a fight. Klym claimed the injury was an accident.

‘She trusted everyone’
Bussell said he had met Klym only twice, but on one of those occasions — the wedding of his niece, Brittany Pyzik, who appeared with him on TODAY from Michigan — Klym and Sladewski fought.

TODAY
Thomas Bussell, brother of murdered model Paula Sladewski, and her niece, Brittany Pyzik, spoke to TODAY from Taylor, Mich.
“He left her there at that party, too,” Bussell said. “I tried talking to Paula for a good 30 minutes about her choices in men, that she doesn’t have to tolerate abuse and be neglected by somebody like this. She could get anybody she wanted.”

Bussell described his sister as being too trusting.

“She trusted everybody; you tell her you loved her, and she believed it,” he told Vieira. “She was very young and naïve and she believed there was a lot of good in this world. I told her time and time again that there’s also evil, and that’s what she’s got to watch out for.”

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