In January 2012, the police department of Siberia (Russia) received a phone call from a stranger regarding a teenager who was found wounded. The location was among the woods, the beautiful outskirts of Siberia.
On reaching the crime scene, they found the teenager who was lying naked on the dirt except for the cloth used for covering her, which was provided by the wood collector who found her. Her body was filled with scorching skin and stab wounds. She was immediately taken to the hospital.
After the police completed their inquiry procedures, the girl identified her attacker as Mikhail Popkov, who was the police sub-chief. None of them believed her and Elena Popkov, Mikhail’s wife, who also worked in the department, completely cut off the case stating she was just speaking out of shock as she was attacked.
Two months later, DNA profiling for all the policemen was conducted to record it in the States Bureau. The result of the profile came out in June. Surprisingly Mikhail’s profile matched the evidence from the crime scene of the teenager.
The case was handed over to the head chief who proceeded with further investigation. What they found was an unbelievable crime series conducted by their very own assistant chief, Mikhail Popkov!
Who is Mikhail Popkov?
Very little is known about Mikhail’s childhood and early life. Mikhail Viktorovich Popkov was born on March 7, 1964, in Siberia, Russia. His mother was an alcoholic and strongly abusive. He was tortured day and night by her due to intoxication.
He later grew up to be in the police department and married Elena with whom he has a daughter. He had also worked in a Chemical factory as a security guard for a while.
According to his co-workers, Mikhail never had any history of a criminal career while joining the force. He was a very pleasant, charming, likable, and funny man. Among his family, he was the model husband and father. He was normal and cheerful at home and took his family for outings often. He was so good with them that his daughter refused to believe that her father was charged with 80 murders.
Mikhail had a clean and respectable service due to which his victims trusted to take his lift. This helped him to lure his prey faster and get away with the crime easier than he thought.
Modus Operandi and Motive of Crimes
Popkov was driven by two main motives.
Firstly, he believed that women who are intoxicated, basically drunk, are a waste of humans and the world needs to be cleansed. He probably came to this conclusion after experiencing an abusive childhood from his alcoholic mother.
Second, a week before he started his killing spree, it was found that his wife Elena had an extramarital affair. This weakened him because he was true towards his family. Driven by these motives Popkov’s mental health was in ruins.
One day while in his uniform, he casually offered a woman a lift with no other intention. But while driving her home in the car, he suddenly felt an urge to kill her. This was the starting of his murder series.
Being a police officer he had free access to the evidence room. Popkov used the weapons which were submitted as evidence from different crimes for his murder spree. He took blunt weapons such as knives, hammers, and sometimes even rope.
After that, he would drive to any bar or pub with his Lards 4*4, enter the bar like any other regular customer, and offer women drinks. If any of them accepts it he would offer her a lift further and take her to the woods where he would kill her.
All of his victims were sexually abused before death and also post-death. This indicated that he performed both rape and necrophilia. Popkov had a fascination to make his crime look gruesome.
The victims were always found with 170 plus stabs, mutilated and tortured, making the body torn apart and consisting of heavy mortal wounds resembling corpses torn by werewolves. As a result of which Mikhail also became familiar as the Siberian werewolf.
All of his victims were intoxicated, picked up from bars or pubs aged between 16-40 years, and counted up to eighty, between 1992 – 2011.
Due to his cruelty of crimes, he was also ranked among worst serial killers.
Arrest and Trial of Mikhail Popkov
Even though Popkov started his murders right from 1992, he was never linked with any crime due to the lack of advancements in the forensic field during that period and also since he was a part of the police force he was never suspected.
He always wiped the weapons clean from his fingerprints and discarded them. When the 2011 DNA records went against him, he was arrested on June 23, 2012, upon further investigation. Also, it was proven that Popkov had acquired Sexually Transmitted Disease(STD) from one of his victims.
However, Mikhail did not deny any of the accusations. He confessed to having murdered at least 29 women aged between 19-28 and 4 women aged between 35-40. All of his victims were from the localities, Irkutsk and Oblast.
The Russian society was furious upon finding police personnel linked to the crime. Most of them thought he deserved capital punishment. Especially his attitude infuriated them, as he was always smiling and pleasant while answering the media or during police sessions. He cooperated well with the police. Soon, he confessed to sixty more crimes and two attempted murders.
Forensic Psychologists gave the opinion on him to be of a man who possessed a heavy sadistic nature, devoid of remorse, loved killing and making people suffer, followed by necrophilia. However, they declared him sane enough to stand the trial.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment and was cut off from the service which led to the blockage of his police pension to the family. He was disappointed with this fact. He is currently spending his life in the Siberia central prison.