A former Siberian policeman who was convicted in 2015 of murdering 22 women is headed back to court. By the time his trial is over, the man the Russian media has called “The Werewolf” may officially be Russia’s worst serial killer of modern times, if not ever.
Mikhail Popkov, 53, admitted to killing 22 women between 1994 and 2000 (and perhaps later) in the city of Angarsk in southern Siberia. In almost all of those cases, he raped his victims and sometimes had sex with their dead bodies. Now, after having confessed last year to an additional 59 murders, he’s set to face trial.
If found guilty of the 59 additional killings, Popkov would surpass Andrei Chikatilo (52 murders) as Russia’s worst serial killer in terms of murders for which he was convicted.
Popkov began his spree in 1992, after he allegedly caught his wife cheating on him. According to his confession, Popkov obsessed over the affair for months. That’s when he set about targeting women who didn’t fear him.
Popkov’s modus operandi was to seek out women walking alone and use his status as a policeman to lure them to his car by offering them rides. He would then take them to a remote location and sexually assault them before murdering them, usually with an axe or a hammer.
He once said his aim was to “cleanse” the city of “prostitutes,” but he also justified his murders in a truly bizarre fashion:
“The victims were those who, unaccompanied by men, at night, without a certain purpose, were on the streets, behaving carelessly, who were not afraid to enter into conversation with me, get into my car, and then go for a drive in search of adventures, for the sake of entertainment, ready to drink alcohol and have sexual intercourse with me.
“Not all women became victims, but those of a certain negative behavior, I had a desire to teach and punish.”
In once instance, Popkov murdered a teacher at his daughter’s school. The woman’s body was found in the woods with another one of his victims.
“My daughter asked me to give her money, because the school was collecting to organize funerals,” Popkov said. “I gave [it to] her.”
Another time he realized he had left a police identification token where he had dumped the bodies of Maria Lyzhina, 35, and Liliya Pashkovsaya, 37. So he went back to retrieve it.
“I found the token right away, but saw that one of the women was still breathing,” he said during testimony. “I was shocked by the fact that she was still alive. I finished her with a shovel.”
Popkov’s murder spree supposedly ended in 2000, when he became impotent and contracted syphilis while police continued to investigate the killings.
He was finally arrested in 2012 after police suspected the murderer might be one of their own. Authorities took 3,500 DNA samples from current and former officers and matched it with DNA they’d found on many of the victims.
Mikhail Popkov was their man.
“I was born in another century,” Popkov said in a jailhouse interview.
“Now there are such modern technologies, methods, but not earlier. If we have not got to that level of genetic examination, then… I would not be sitting in front of you.”
Next learn the true story of Ed Kemper, whose story is too gross to be real. Then, read 21 serial killer quotes that will chill you to the bone.