Notorious policeman serial killer convicted of 56 Siberia murders

Post-Soviet Russia’s most notorious serial killer known as the "Angarsk Maniac" was given a second life sentence by a Siberian court on Monday after he was found guilty of killing 56 more victims over a period of 15 years.

Mikhail Popkov worked as a police officer in the Siberian city of Angarsk and was sentenced to life in prison last year when he was found guilty of murdering 22 women. 

After sentencing, he admitted to the murders of an additional 59 women.

Popkov called himself a “cleaner,”  the Interfax news agency reported, and claimed that he only targeted “women who lead loose lifestyles.”

Lead investigator Yevgeny Karchevsky said that Popkov’s motive was misogyny. According to the RIA Novosti news agency, Popkov began killing after finding his wife cheated on him.

Local police began searching for a serial killer as early as 1992, but it wasn’t until the late 1990s that patterns began to emerge in a string of violent, sexual murders in the region around Angarsk.

A court in the city of Irkutsk found Mikhail Popkov guilty of 56 murders between 1992 and 2007Credit:

A common theme was track marks from a Lada Niva, a car used by police nationwide.

From the early 90s to 2010, Popkov would don a police uniform and drive his police car on nighttime hunts for women at bus stops and other public places, using his cover to offer them a ride home.

He would instead drive them to the woods, rape them, and then murder them.

“He willingly described all of this,” Mr Karchevsky told RIA Novosti, “with pathos and even with gusto.” 

The investigator added that, setting aside his crimes, Popkov was a sane, well-educated man. 

“These were skills of psychological manipulation,” he said.

Mr Karchevsky said that the investigation into Popkov was the first of its kind in Russia, requiring years of work, DNA testing, and witness testimonies spanning the globe.

As part of Monday’s second life sentence, Popkov was stripped of his retired police title.

Popkov’s lawyer says he intends to appeal that part of the verdict, given his cooperation in the investigation.

The ruling deprives him of a 24,000 ruble (£285) monthly police pension.

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