A 50-year-old police officer from Russia has been arrested in connection to the murders of 22 women, one of whom was decapitated, another having their heart ripped out.
Mikhail Popkov, a 50-year-old retired policeman in Russia, has been arrested in connection to the murders of 22 women. Popkov reportedly raped and murdered the victims, seeing himself as a “cleaner”, engaging in a campaign to cleanse his town of prostitutes.
The police officer turned serial killer would offer to give the victims lifts in his police car late at night in the Siberian city of Angarsk, before they were raped and axed or stabbed.
Bodies of the victims – who included a teacher, a shop assistant and several prostitutes – were found dumped in woods, on the roadside and in a cemetery. One of the victims had been decapitated, while another’s heart had been removed. It is reported that Popkov may have had sex with some of the bodies after killing them.
Two other women managed to survive attacks by Popkov but suffered serious injuries.
Prosecutor Olga Muzykova told local Rossiya 1 television: “He drove out on the streets of the city at night looking for women. He either offered (his victims) a lift or the women flagged him down for a ride … Then the crime was committed, almost always according to the same scenario.
“By calling himself a cleaner, he was trying to justify himself. He was an ordinary serial killer.”
The murders took place over six years from 1994, spreading fear among the city’s residents before suddenly ending in 2000, when Popkov said he became impotent and contracted syphilis.
Investigators had suspected a policeman was behind the crime because of the way he carefully covered his tracks.
Popkov was caught after investigators reopened the case and carried out DNA testing of residents, focusing on those who drove a car make whose tracks had been found at crime scenes.
Popkov, then unknown, was dubbed ‘The Werewolf’ by Russian media, and ‘The Wednesday Murderer’ by police, in reference to the day many of the bodies were found.
His former colleagues told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper that he had actually taken part in investigating some of the crimes he has now been convicted of.
He retired from the police force in 1998, but was arrested in 2012 in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, where he had gone to buy a car.
Popkov will serve his sentence in a special prison colony for former law enforcers.