Russia's worst ever serial killer convicted of 56 more deaths, raising his number to 78
Mikhail Popkov is a former policeman, but after his numerous crimes came to light, he became better known as 'the werewolf'. He's currently serving a life sentence in jail, but his tally has recently been convicted of carrying out 56 more murders than initially thought. These latest convictions mean that he is officially guilty of killing at least 78 women.
In a surprising dispute after the court ruling, which took place in Irkutsk today, some are claiming that the number may be higher than 78. Russia's Investigative Committee disagreed over the overall victim total, claiming that it could be as high as 81.
In the name of 'cleaning up' the city of Angarsk from sex workers and 'immoral women', Popkov sexually assaulted most of his victims, before he killed them with knives, axes, screwdrivers and various other tools and weapons. His victims were aged from 18 to 50, with cases ranging from 1992 to the most recent in 2010. Some victims apparently had hundreds of knife wounds, according to state prosecutors.
"He said he 'sentenced them to death' as soon as they agreed to share a drink with him," said state prosecutor Alexander Shkinyov, according to The Siberian Times. "He clearly loved killing. Some victims had 145, or even 170 knife wounds. He said that he felt satisfied when he felt their pain as they were stabbed."
He was initially convicted of 22 murders in 2015, but since then he has cooperated with police in identifying other victims. He recently confessed to 60 new murders, with the court finding evidence for 56 - and there could be more.
Popkov, also known as the Angarsk Maniac, was angered in the courtroom when he discovered he was to be stripped of his junior police lieutenant rank, denying him the £285 monthly state pension.
"He was calm when he heard the life sentence, but then got very upset about the rank and pension decision," Shkinyov said. "Popkov thought that his co-operation with investigation should have earned him a better result from the court," state prosecutor Alexandr Shkinyov said. "He will be appealing this part of the sentence."
State investigator Yevgeny Karchevsky was the man who made the key breakthrough in securing Popkov's confessions, and believes that there may be more victims to be found in the future. "Popkov is a very cruel man," he said. "If to describe him in one word, he is a hunter."
"He was looking for prey, he was killing the prey, receiving energy and satisfaction from it, and lived with this amount of energy until his next murder.
"I cannot say that we found have everyone (he killed). During our last meeting I asked Mikhail: 'With this, are we closing it all? He did not say 'yes'. He said: 'I told you everything I can remember.'
Popkov used his position in the police force to help him with his killings. Using his police car, he would offer lifts to victims before taking them to remote areas to kill them. He also confessed to using the station's store of confiscated weapons for his own murders. He kept this all secret from his wife and daughter, but cut it close, even once killing a teacher at his daughter's school.
According to a leaked testimony, he said:
"I had a double-life. In one life I was an ordinary person, I was in the service in the police, having positive feedback on my work.
"I had a family. My wife and daughter considered me a good husband and father, which corresponded to reality. In my other life I committed murders, which I carefully concealed from everyone, realising that this was a criminal offence."
Thankfully, Popkov is firmly behind bars. If there are still victims to be found, hopefully they will be found to give their families some closure.