Popular TV journalist Cristina Topescu, jailed for trying to flee Communist Romania, found dead at home

Cristina Topescu, a well-known television journalist and media personality who spent three months in a communist prison after she tried to flee Romania to visit her mother, has been found dead at home, police said. She was 59.

Police broke into her home north of Bucharest late Sunday after a neighbor called authorities concerned that Topescu had not been seen since December 19.  

Police said they found her in bed with no visible traces of violence on her body. Interior Minister Marcel Vela said an autopsy would be carried out Monday. Police said two of her dogs had also died.

Romanians immediately took to social media to express their shock and grief and speculate how, Topescu, who lived alone, had died. Colleagues and friends attested to her kindness, idealism, and love of dogs.

Topescu became a household name after the fall of communism as a newsreader for Prima TV. She quickly gained celebrity status_ her love life was regularly splashed over the tabloids_ as she was the daughter of the famous sports commentator Cristian Topescu, who broadcast news to Romania when Nadia Comaneci scored the perfect 10 at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

“I feel I am a sentimental journalist par excellence and  I don’t mind the label, ” she said. “I’m not the kind of journalist to  do a cool-headed, detached analysis with a sharp mind like an unforgiving knife.”

In September 1989,  Topescu was sentenced to prison after she tried to illegally cross the border to visit her mother who lived in Germany.  She was released as the uprising against Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu broke out.

In 2013, Topescu quit journalism and joined the Social Democratic Party, saying she thought she could better support the causes she cared about, such as animal welfare, with political support.

However, she was critical of the Social Democrats’ moves to change the legal system which saw the biggest protests since the end of communism.

Topescu is survived by a brother.


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