Over the course of nearly two decades, Mikhail Popkov murdered more than 80 young woman and girls, making him one of Russia's worst serial killers. During the time Mikhail Popkov was committing his gruesome crimes in Siberia, he was dubbed "the Wednesday Murderer" by law enforcement. But after he was apprehended, the press referred to him as the "Werewolf Murderer."
Despite the brutality of his crimes, no one who knew Popkov - including his co-workers, and devoted wife and daughter - suspected he was the man behind the rapes and murders of 82 women and girls. When he was finally arrested, the police and the public learned how Popkov took advantage of his position as a respected authority figure to sexually assault and kill his victims, making the Werewolf Murderer a cautionary tale for people who automatically trust a man in uniform.
In June 2012, Russian police arrested year-old Mikhail Popkov, a 48-year-old husband and father who lived in Siberia and worked as a security guard for a chemical and oil company. Semen recovered from multiple crime scenes made law enforcement believed Popkov had murdered 29 Russian women from 1994 to 2000, although he only confessed to killing 22 victims after he was apprehended.
In January 2015, he was sentenced to life in prison for his crimes, but investigators still tried linking Popkov with additional murders. Incredibly, they were able to connect Popkov to the killings of 60 more victims, and the authorities got the convicted killer to confess to these further crimes. Initially, experts thought Popkov had stopped murdering women in 2000, but they discovered he was killing victims up until 2010, just two years before he was arrested. He killed a total of 82 women and girls ranging in age from 17 to 38.
Before he was a security guard for Angarsk Oil and Chemical Company in Siberia, Popkov had a long career as a police officer, giving him unique insight into the techniques law enforcement officials use to track and apprehend criminals. Popkov, who joined the police force as a sergeant in the early 1990s, was able to not only avoid detection because of his occupation, he also used his job to help him find women to rape and murder.
After his arrest, Popkov claimed he didn't think of himself as "mentally unhealthy" because he passed the required mental and physical health exams for police officers, and he always received favorable evaluations about his work performance. Tragically, no one recognized the danger this particular police officer posed to his community until more than 80 women and girls were brutally raped and murdered.
Popkov didn't confess to murdering any of his victims while he was on duty as a police officers in Siberia, but he did use his status as a member of law enforcement to help him find women to kill. According to Popkov, he would put on his uniform and park his vehicle near bars, clubs, and restaurants just before closing time. Then he would look for women and girls who were on their own and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, and, acting as a respectable and trustworthy authority figure, would offer to drive them home.
However, once these unsuspecting women got into his vehicle, Popkov would drive to a remote location to commit brutal acts of rape and murder. After killing the young women, the police officer would dump their nude, lifeless bodies in wooded areas where they were eventually discovered by law enforcement or horrified passersby.
After abducting and raping his victims, Popkov would murder the young women and girls by strangling, beating, or stabbing them to death. Popkov used a variety of different weapons to kill his victims, including a knife, awl, baseball bat, screwdriver, and axe, leaving the young women bloodied and battered.
Popkov stole many of the implements he used to murder his victims from the evidence department at the station where he worked, providing him with a seemingly endless supply of weapons. After killing a victim, Popkov - who was well aware of the importance of evidence - wiped his fingerprints from the weapon and left it at the scene of the murder, although he had no idea how changes in forensic technology would eventually lead to his arrest.