Slaughter Night in Moscow by John Philpin Crime Profiler
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  • Between dusk on July 21, and dawn, July 22, four women were murdered on the streets of Moscow. The total number of victims — all women — stands at ten since July 1.

    Does this city of ten million, capitol of the Russian Federation, have a serial killer preying on its women? Or does it, as some locals insist, have two serial killers at work? Or, as the police suggest, are two killers insufficient to accommodate all the victims who, they say, have little in common?

    The first six victims were strangled, some manually, some with ligatures fashioned from their own clothing. Some were tortured and sexually assaulted. On slaughter night this past weekend, one victim was strangled, one was strangled and bludgeoned, one was bludgeoned, and one died from having her head smashed against a concrete structure.

    The age-range of the victims is seventeen to thirty-five. Seven of the ten victims were found in the northern section of the city.

    On July 1, Yulia Bondareva, 28, walked in the botanical gardens at noon with her boyfriend. The couple parted, and Yulia walked toward the Metro. Her body was discovered an hour later. She had been gagged with a piece of her shirt, sexually assaulted, beaten, and strangled.

    July 2. Police discovered the body of Kseniya Medintsevaya, 17, in the courtyard of a kindergarten. Her dress was ripped open, her face smeared with blood. She had been beaten, sexually assaulted, and strangled. Police know that Kseniya was in her apartment at 11 PM the previous night. They found her body before dawn.

    On July 4, police found the nearly nude body of Irena Gera, 28, sexually assaulted, and strangled with her pocketbook strap. She had lived in the central part of the city, several miles from where she died.

    July 8. A twenty-five-year-old Ukrainian prostitute, Alexandra, was the next victim. She was strangled in her apartment, one end of a belt from a piece of clothing tied around her neck, the other end tied to a doorknob.

    On July 11, not far from where police had discovered Alexandra, they found the half-naked body of Elena Tolokonnikova, 32, a teacher. She had been out with friends the previous evening. She never made it home.

    July 15. Police found the decomposing body of a woman near a pond. The corpse has not yet been identified, but it is apparent that, like all the victims, she was slender and wore her hair long.

    Moscow police have organized a task force to investigate the killings. Alexei Vakhromeyev of the Criminal Investigations Directorate insists there is insufficient evidence to link the crimes. Some victims were manually strangled, some strangled with ligatures, some beaten. Most were killed in the city’s north; some were killed several miles away in the northeast. CID investigators have not ruled out the possibility of a series killer, but Vakhromeyev believes that such a killer would execute all his victims in the same manner.

    July 21. Seventeen-year-old student Tatyana Nikishina was victim seven. Her killer had attempted to sexually assault her, then strangled her with her bra, leaving her body in Moscow’s northwest. Police have not released the names of the other three victims.

    A senior police official characterized the murders as "coincidences," but frightened Muscovites are forming their own conclusions. Men go out to do errands; wives choose to remain inside; daughters are kept at home. Details of the murders are admittedly sparse, but a few suggested avenues of inquiry are in order. Despite police protestations, serial killers do not always kill the same way. The prostitute, Alexandra, was the only victim whose body was not found outdoors. She had been working at a nearby market and could have picked up a man she thought was a client, or simply been followed home. One of the unnamed Friday-night victims was struck with a blunt object from behind; another was slammed against a concrete structure. With no further details, it is impossible to hazard a guess about linkage. Why did Kseniya Medintsevaya leave her apartment after eleven PM? Yulia Bondareva, the first known victim, was attacked and killed in a public park in broad daylight. How and why did Irena Gera travel from her home to city’s northern section?

    At least eight of these homicides appear to be linked. If this is the case, the Moscow serial killer has a voracious appetite, selecting victims at a terrifying rate. With a coordinated investigation only now getting underway, the killer has a headstart on the CID and the forecast is not good.

    Update: Serial Killer in Moscow?

    ©John Philpin, 2003 All Rights Reserved -- Do not reproduce in any form or circulate without permission. -- Information available exclusively through

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