Russia's biggest serial killer sentenced to life in prison multiple times

Mikhail Popkov, known as the Angarsk serial killer received his fourth sentence. A court in Irkutsk sentenced him to ten years in prison on yet another case. Popkov had been previously sentenced for 83 killings. He was thus sentenced to life imprisonment to be served in a special regime colony.

In 1997, in the village of Zhilkino, Popkov killed a 27-year-old Russian woman. In 1998, the man killed a 25-year-old woman on the banks of the Angara River in Irkutsk. In 2003, he murdered a 31-year-old woman on the territory of the Novo-Leninsky cemetery in Irkutsk.

Mikhail Popkov started killing women after his wife cheated on him. In 1992, returning home early from his shift, junior police lieutenant Popkov found used condoms in the trash can. The man did not kill his wife as they had a little daughter. In addition, his wife said that she had been raped.

Instead, Popkov, who was dubbed as the "Irkutsk Chikatilo” began to take revenge on prostitutes and young women whom he offered a ride home at night.

Investigators proved Mikhail Popkov's involvement in the murder of 86 women. He has thus outstripped another notorious serial killer of Soviet times, Andrei Chikatilo. It is believed that the latter had killed 43 people, although the actual number of his crimes can be much larger.

Popkov preferred to attack women aged 16 to 40. He committed most of the crimes in the cities of the Irkutsk region — Angarsk, Irkutsk and Usolye-Sibirsk.

He would meet women, rape them, and then kill them with a knife, a screwdriver or a noose. He committed some of the crimes while wearing police uniforms and using a police car.

Mikhail Popkov was arrested in 2012 owing to a DNA test. He admitted that he stopped attacking women only because of impotence, which he developed due to a protracted venereal disease. Forensic psychiatrists diagnosed Popkov with homicidal mania — an irresistible desire to kill (which is not a symptom of a mental disorder).

The Angarsk killer received his first life sentence in 2015 for 22 counts of murder. He later confessed to dozens of other episodes. His confessions caused the investigation to last three years longer.

From November 1994 to 2000, Popkov killed 29 young women in Angarsk. He used various weapons: an ax, a knife, an awl, a screwdriver, a noose. In some episodes he used several different tools at a time. 

Most of the victims were between 15 and 28 years old at the time of the murders. Four others were between 35 and 40 years old. All women were of average height (155-170 cm) and were prone to be overweight. All but one were moderately or heavily intoxicated at the time of the murder. They had been raped before they died. The only victim, who was sober at the time of the attack, was not raped. The criminal strangled her with a scarf and then stabbed her dead body. Popkov burned one of the victims after the murder, and cut out the heart of another.

The killer would leave the victims in the vicinity of Angarsk, in forested areas adjacent to country roads leading from major highways. Twenty-six women were dead at the time when they were found. Three were mortally wounded and died at hospitals.

Also read: Soviet-era serial killers used to be exemplary society members

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Author`s name Pavel Morozov
Editor Dmitry Sudakov