Russian investigators claim to have caught one of the country’s most prolific serial killers, potentially solving a string of more than 25 murders attributed to a man known for years only as the “Volga maniac”.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said that the suspect, a 38-year-old man named Radik Tagirov, confessed to a string of 26 murders of elderly women that had terrorised central Russia between 2011 and 2012. He had been identified using DNA evidence, shoe prints, and other evidence from crime scenes, investigators said.
Tagirov had conned his way into the apartments of elderly women living alone by impersonating an electrician, plumber, or utilities worker.
Once inside, he would overpower the women and strangle his victims to death using either his hands or nearby objects, including an apron and a clothesline. The vast majority of his victims were older than 70.
He often robbed his victims but in some cases left valuables untouched. He wore gloves and had sterilised crime scenes before leaving to thwart investigators.
The murders, most of which took place between 2011 and 2012, were recorded in a number of Russian cities including Kazan, Samara, Tolyatti, Izhevsk, Ufa and others. Other killings were suspected to have taken place in the Urals, although the exact number of his victims has never been established.
The serial killer appeared to have gone quiet after 2013, but a killing spree in the region in 2017 renewed fears among the public.
If his identity is confirmed, he would be among the 10 most prolific serial killers in the country’s history since the Soviet Union.
Police in 2019 offered a £30,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.