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Serial killer and rapist Mikhail Popkov killed 'dozens more women'

By The Siberian Times reporter
11 June 2015

Nicknamed 'The Werewolf', police probe new deaths 'in vengeance for his fears wife cheated on him'.

He held the Siberian city of Angarsk in terror with his killing spree,  after his arrest claiming he had wanted to 'cleanse' the streets of prostitutes. Picture: Komsomolskaya Pravda

Investigators are actively working on new cases linked to maniac Popkov, 50, who is already sentenced to life in jail for the killing of 22 women. The former policeman, who murdered his victims with axes, knives or screwdrivers, also brutally raped most if not all his known victims. 

He held the Siberian city of Angarsk in terror with his killing spree,  after his arrest claiming he had wanted to 'cleanse' the streets of prostitutes. Now, however, police are seriously examining fears that he killed up to 61 victims in all, according to local newspaper Guberniya, citing police sources. 

If he is eventually convicted of such a number, his murder spree would exceed his idol, Soviet-era Andrei Chikatilo, aka the Butcher of Rostov, who was convicted of 53 murders, and more recent Moscow maniac Alexander Pichushkin, known as the Chessboard Killer, who killed 49. 

Another account from Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper in Irkutsk revealed chillingly of the latest investigations on Popkov: 'Almost every day a new crime is added to his 'track record'. 

Mikhail Popkov


Mikhail Popkov

If he is eventually convicted of such a number, his murder spree would exceed his idol, Soviet-era Andrei Chikatilo, aka the Butcher of Rostov, who was convicted of 53 murders. Pictures: Komsomolskaya Pravda, Investigative Department in Siberian Federal District

'At the moment, he is charged with 11 new victims, with a new trial to be held, and on more than ten cases the investigation is ongoing'. Police are not commenting on the active investigation, and the numbers of suspected cases vary considerably in media accounts.

The new cases relate to the years between 2000 and 2012 when, it was thought earlier, he had halted his murderous terror. 

The probe is headed by highly-respected investigator Evgeny Karchevsky, and to have its own two-storey base in the centre of Angarsk known as the 'Popkov HQ'.

Police were widely criticised earlier for failing to apprehend a man who served as an officer and used his police car to lure young women for lifts, journeys from which they never returned. 

Wednesday killer victim Yulia


Wednesday killer victim Maria


Wednesday killer victim Masha


Wednesday killer victims funerals

The maniac's victims, top to bottom - Yulia Shapovalova and Maria Molotkova; Maria Molotkova funerals, and pictures of two other victims, Marina Lyzhina, 35 (l) and Liliya Pashkovskaya, 37 (r) at their funerals. Pictures: The Siberian Times 

Now a troubling new theory has emerged over his motive for killing; namely that his killing spree began in vengeance for believing that his wife Elena Popkova, 48, had cheated on him. She insisted the allegation was false, and based on the discovery of  condoms in their home, which, she indicated, a friend had left after staying.

Artem Dubynin, senior detective in Irkutsk region: 'It was March 1993. He got back from work, met his daughter on the street and they came home together. He found two used condoms in the trash can.'

A handcuffed Popkov in an interview with a local newspaper has given credence to this suspicion of betrayal as the trigger for his mass murder, the full toll of which may not be known for years as investigators work painstakingly over dozens of cases of disappeared women in Siberia.

'I just had some reasons to suspect her,' he said of his fear that his wife had slept with another man. 'I'm not looking for excuses, but this was the impetus for my future,' he told a reporter from Komsomolskaya Pravda. 'If I had seen the treason with my own eyes, I would maybe have done everything differently. 

'Everyone goes through such things differently: some take it easy  and forget,  others take it painfully. What happened with me? The worst-case scenario.'

Elena Popkova


Elena Popkova


Popkov family

'I support him, I believe him. If he were to be released right now, I would not say a word and we would continue to live together. I love him, I support him. He did not cause me any harm for all these years. I felt safe with him.' Pictures: NTV

He admitted to being filled with a desire to kill his loyal wife, who in the aftermath of his conviction as a mass murderer refused to believe he was guilty, as did the couple's only child, Ekaterina, a teacher, aged 27.

'In the morning, waking up, first I ran into her room - checked, if I killed her. Therefore, I did not drink hardly ever. I was afraid that I can commit something terrible.

Elena told a TV channel: 'He found condoms in our house. First he thought that it was our neighbour, because we had left her the keys from our flat. Then he asked me once about them, but said nothing. The only thing was that he forced me to retire from my work. And he never reminded me about this case since then. Almost 20 years passed. It was in 1993. Maybe the police suppose it was kind of impetus to him, I do not know.'

After he was sentenced to life in January 2015, Elena Popkova refused to see him as a vicious rapist and killer, stating: 'We have been married for 28 years. If I suspected something wrong, of course, I would divorce with him. 

'I support him, I believe him. If he were to be released right now, I would not say a word and we would continue to live together. I love him, I support him. He did not cause me any harm for all these years. I felt safe with him.'

Ekaterina Popkova


Mikhail and Ekaterina Popkov


Mikhail and Ekaterina Popkov

'For 25 years we were together, hand in hand. We walked, rode bikes, went to the shops, and he met me from school.' Pictures: Channel 1, NTV

The couple's daughter Ekaterina also found it impossible to admit his heinous crimes. 'I do not believe any of this. I always felt myself as 'Daddy's girl'," she claimed on Russian TV. '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.'

Both women have now moved to another city to start new lives, and it is believed they no longer visit Popkov in detention, as they did earlier. Popkov confirmed in his recent interview that he was 'not now' in touch with his daughter. 

In 'strong physical shape', the convicted serial killer used his police patrol car to offer late night lifts to women who had been drinking. His victims' bodies were found dumped naked in woods, on the roadside and in a cemetery. They included a teacher and a shop assistant. 

Popkov managed to elude the authorities for two decades because investigators ignored evidence that the serial killer could be one of their own officers. He was finally arrested  in 2012 after detectives took DNA samples from 3,500 current and former police officers.

The murders were said by police to have stopped in 2000 and Popkov later said this was because he had caught a venereal disease, which rid him of the maniacal desire to kill women.

Wednesday murderer victims

Tatiana Martynova (right) with a friend Yulia Kuprikova (middle) who they were both killed together. Picture: The Siberian Times 

At the time he told police:

'I just neglected the illness, tried to cure it by myself, was afraid to go to the hospital. And I felt the consequences, I became impotent. After that, I lost the desire to rape and murder.'

The latest investigations, however, are based on the theory that he did not stop killing in 2000. In his interview, Popkov did not comment on new cases.

He boasted at how he had outfoxed police and said he was only finally arrested because of the invention of DNA analysis. 

'I could not anticipate the examination of DNA,' he said. 'I was born in another century. 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.'

He admitted that he killed women - including wives and mothers - who had gone out drinking indicating he saw this as inappropriate behaviour. But he now says: 'I had no right to evaluate people, their behaviour ... this is my repentance.'

Asked he could turn back time, what he would do differently, he said:  'All initially should have been changed. Straight from school. Since childhood.'

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