By The Siberian Times reporter
If convicted, his total will be 47 – but police continue to investigate, believing there are more victims.
Former policeman Popkov, 52, is already serving a life sentence for 22 murders, and he is now charged with an additional 25.
Law enforcement sources believe it is likely his eventual total will exceed his his sinister idol, the worst-ever Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, aka the Butcher of Rostov, who was convicted of 53 murders, and the more recent Moscow maniac Alexander Pichushkin, known as the Chessboard Killer, who killed 49.
The serial killer – a former policeman – has told investigators his toll is 59.
But in court in Irkutsk, when the Siberian ‘beast’ was asked by judge Pavel Rukavishnikov how many women he had killed, he shrugged and replied: ‘I can’t say exactly, I didn’t keep a record.’ The mass killer told the court: ‘I admit my guilt in full’….’committing the murders, I was guided by my inner convictions.’
Investigators say the criminal investigation is ‘ongoing’ into at least an additional 12 cases but a trial on the newly discovered 25 victims – to which has has confessed – is expected this year.
Police had revealed that they had found human remains of ‘a large number’ of victims based on interviews with the killer. Some were women reported as missing but whose fate was unknown.
The maniac, who sexually attacked his young female victims before slaying them with axes, knives or screwdrivers, has remanded in detention until April to allow further police enquiries to proceed. This means he will not yet start his life sentence in a prison colony.
He has cooperated with police in identifying the 25 new cases, say law enforcement sources. After he was detained in 2012, he told police he wanted to ‘cleanse’ the streets of ‘prostitutes’ in his home city of Angarsk where he worked as a policeman.
He often offered victims nighttime lifts in his police car before taking them to remote locations where he raped and killed them, leaving their naked bodies in woods on roadsides.
Senior investigator Andrei Bunayev disclosed last year: ‘The investigation will be very long because there are a lot of cases. He names the places where bodies are hidden. We find these bodies, and check his involvement.
‘He says very clearly, when and what was done. We are looking for evidence that confirms his words. A large number of episodes are confirmed.’
He said Popkov ‘left biological traces in some cases which were not studied earlier – but now there is an opportunity to examine them’. In other cases, sites were dug up guided by the convicted mass murderer.
‘Popkov is collaborating with us,’ he said. ‘Everything he says is confirmed. He confidently guides us to the place where a body is found and explains what happened, what injuries he caused.’
It was earlier believed Popkov had stopped his murder spree in 2000 when he claimed to suffer impotence after contracting venereal disease from a victim. Now it appears that some of the latest cases were after 2000, but few details have been released.
Detectives are known to have dusted off files of unsolved murders since the 1990s over a vast area of eastern Russia. Popkov was known to regularly drive between Angarsk and Vladivostok, on the country’s Pacific coast, a distance of some 3,900 kilometres.
Two of his earlier victims were Tatiana (Tanya) Martynova, 20, and Yulia Kuprikova, 19, found dead on 29 October 1998 in an Angarsk suburb following a night out.
‘The pain does not go away – it was me who gave Tanya a ticket to go to a concert, and she was killed after attending it,’ said her sister Viktoria Chagaeva, 49, who owns a beauty salon in Angarsk.
Popkov’s wife Elena, 51, and daughter Ekaterina, 29, a teacher, initially stood by him, refusing to believe he was a mass killer. But since his trial they have moved to another city to begin new lives.
One theory is that he began his murder spree after – wrongly – suspecting his wife of cheating on him. He found two used condoms in the rubbish at home, and this led to his drive to take revenge on women, it is claimed. In fact the contraceptives had been used by guests.
‘I just had some reasons to suspect her,’ said Popkov, of his belief that his wife had slept with another man. ‘I’m not looking for excuses, but this was the impetus for my future.’
He admitted to having a negative view of women who went out at night to drink without their husbands or boyfriends. Now he says: ‘I had no right to evaluate people, their behaviour … this is my repentance.’
He evaded capture for years because police could not contemplate that one of their own officers could be a mass killer. He daughter at first refused to believe he could be a mass killer.
‘I do not believe any of this. I always felt myself as ‘Daddy’s girl’,’ she said. ‘For 25 years we were together, hand in hand. We walked, rode bikes, went to the shops, and he met me from school. We both collect model cars, so we have the same hobby.
‘I wanted to be a criminologist, so I read a book with tips of how investigators catch serial killers and there were also basic classifications [about murderers]. Daddy doesn’t fit any of these classifications – he doesn’t look like some maniac.’
This story has been cross-posted from The Siberian Times, with all credit due to their organization and journalists. For more photos and additional information, view the original article here.