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True crime. Casually done.

Tamara Samsonova: The Granny Ripper

Russians are made of tougher stuff than most — I’ve seen the dash cam baseball bat duels to prove it. Although it’s generally a lovely place to visit, plenty of Westerners still see Mother Russia as a strange and menacing land to be avoided at all costs. And they don’t always have to look so hard for stories to reinforce the stereotypes.

Some of the crime stories out of Russia really push the limits in terms of brutality and bizarreness. That’s the kind of case I have for you today: a recent story out of St Petersburg, the city which served as the backdrop for Crime and Punishment. But this particular narrative is a bit too dismal even for Dostoyevsky.

At the center of it is one of the most unlikely criminals you’re ever likely to come across: an elderly Russian granny (and not the cheery Eurovision Song Contest kind). Rather than spending her days down the bingo, this mature murderer had some far darker interests to keep her busy during retirement. And if the suspected death toll is to be believed, she was a very busy woman indeed.

This is the story of the so-called Granny Ripper — a septuagenarian Slavic slayer that’ll have you picking up the pace every time you walk past a retirement home from now on.


Husband’s Disappearance

In the year 2000, St Petersburg police were called to investigate a missing person report. A man named Alexei Samsonova had disappeared from the apartment on Dimitrova Street which he shared with his wife, Tamara. A distraught Tamara told the police there was a chance Alexei may have run off with another woman, although she couldn’t say for sure. 

Whatever the case, she must have been devastated; the two had been married for around 30 years. Tamara had met Alexei when she moved to St Petersburg after graduating from the Moscow State Linguistic University in the late 60s. The lovebirds soon settled down together in a new apartment block. He began to work in a car repair plant, while she found work in the tourism industry — first at a travel agency, then the Grand Hotel Europe. 

Now retired at the age of 53, she was looking at the prospect of spending her twilight years alone in her aging apartment. It would just be a tragic little story if I were to end it here, but please, withhold your sympathies until the end…


Life After Loss

To fill the silence left behind after her husband went missing, Samsonova decided to take on a lodger. She invited a man named Vladimir to come live with her in the summer of 2001, and the two became close. However, after a falling out near the end of the year, he took off. 

In 2003, she finally found a longer-term lodger. This was a man in his early 40s named Sergei Potanin, from the distant northern city of Norilsk. The two had the odd falling out during his tenancy, partly because Samsonova wasn’t exactly the most easy person to live with. 

She was a strict and volatile oddball — sensitive to any perceived slight from her housemate. Her neighbors said that she would often swear at them in the hallways, and bang on the radiators. Sergei must have grown pretty sick of it all, because one day he apparently decided to up sticks, taking off abruptly in 2003. Without any relatives in the city, nobody could figure out where he had gone off to. Most assumed he had made an abrupt return to Norilsk, and left it at that.

So life went on for Samsonova, just as it did after the last man in her life unexpectedly disappeared. She continued to host lodgers on and off throughout the years, with mixed success. They were typically men, younger than her by at least a few years. They came and went over the next decade, with Tamara enjoying a relatively comfortable retirement from the income the arrangements generated. Then by 2015, she once again found herself living alone.

In March of that year, her apartment was due for renovations, and so a mutual acquaintance put her in contact with Valentina Nikolaevna Ulanova: a 79-year old who lived on the same street. Samsonova was in need of a place to stay during the renovations, so she worked out a deal with the ailing Ulanova to stay at her place in exchange for doing chores around the house.

Samsonova was now well into her 60s, and age had done nothing to dull her stubbornness. After getting comfortable in Ulanova’s apartment for several months, she decided she wasn’t all that interested in leaving. Just like your mate who comes over Friday night and is still sleeping on your couch on Sunday, she tested the patience of her host to the extreme.

Eventually, Ulanova decided she’d had enough. The two women had been arguing daily, and the older of the two just didn’t have enough days left on earth to be spending them bickering. So she asked Samsonova to kindly GTFO (or whatever the acronym would be in Russian).



Samsonova was upset about the prospect of going back to her empty apartment, so she took matters into her own hands. After setting things straight with her host, she continued going about her business as usual. We can actually see video footage of her online, taking out the bins on that night in the summer of 2015. 

In the footage, Samsonova stands by the apartment building door in a baby blue raincoat, looking like every other old dear running out to grab some milk and eggs. She must have bought a hell of a lot though, because the bag she’s dragging around in the clip looks heavy.

As it turns out, if any good Samaritan had tried to help this little old lady carry her bags that night, they’d have inadvertently become an accessory to murder. Yep, inside that plastic bag was Mrs Ulanova — or I should say, parts of her. In case it’s not clear enough already, she was dead…


So how in hell does little bit of domestic disagreement end like that? Well, the final straw in the whole thing turned out to be an argument over whose turn it was to wash the teacups. I remember that kind of crisis happening in my uni flatshare, but it only ever went as far as a passive aggressive post-it note.

That wasn’t exactly Samsonova’s style though. On July 24th 2015, she travelled to the city of Pushkin to visit the pharmacy. She needed a pretty conspicuous dose of the prescription drug phenazepam: a Russian-made schizophrenia pill, which some casual connoisseurs abuse as a kind of muscle relaxant.

Somehow she was able to convince the pharmacist to sell her it over the counter, and she returned home, picking up an Olivier salad on the way. This was Ulanova’s favorite dish, and the perfect peace offering after another big domestic bust up. That’s how it must have seemed to the older of the two pensioners, anyway.

In reality, Samsonova had crushed up a massive dose of 50 pills into the meal. After laying that little trap, she went off to sleep — it was already 7pm, way past her usual bedtime. At 2am, she woke up and went through to the kitchen, finding Ulanova unconscious on the floor.

Rather than helping the poor old dear into bed, Samsonova did the next best thing. She… started cutting her apart with a hacksaw. Hold on, that’s just about the worst possible thing she could’ve done. The details coming up next are pretty awful, so consider this fair warning.

Using the hacksaw, Samsonova removed the limbs, cut the torso of her victim in two, then used two kitchen knives to separate it all into smaller pieces. Gruesomely, it’s thought that Ulanova was still breathing at the start of the whole horrific process. 

Further CCTV footage reveals Samsonova walking up and down the stairs of the apartment block over and over to dispose of the bags of body parts, which must have been hell on her knees, poor old dear. I really have to impress on you the bizarreness of watching her do this looking like the stereotypical Russian grandmother, in her babushka headscarf an all— hardly the typical look of a killer. 

The final leg of her horrific workout saw Samsonova carrying a large saucepan downstairs instead of a bin bag. To paraphrase Brad Pitt in 7 — “What’s in the pot?”. Had she not covered the top with a lid, you’d have been able to see the answer for yourself: it was the severed head of Ulanova…

Kids, the next time your granny asks you to wash the dishes — wash the [fucking/effing/damn] dishes.


Investigation and Arrest

It would be another few days before anyone on Dimitrova Street had any incline that something horrible had happened in their neighborhood. A young couple from the street went out walking on the 27tth with their dog, when it started acting strangely. 

As they passed by a pond, the dog stopped and dragged them towards something dumped among the bushes by the banks: a shower curtain, wrapped around something. When they peeled back the plastic, they were confronted with a heap of disfigured human remains — heaped pieces of a torso. That’s the sort of image you probably don’t soon forget.

The couple called the police, who canvassed the local residents to find out if anyone had seen anything suspicious in the area, or if any residents weren’t accounted for. This was the only way to get a reliable ID on the remains, given the absence of a head, or even fingers. 

Of course, they discovered that old Valentina Nikolaevna Ulanova hadn’t been seen recently, while her tenant had been spotted doing some late-night garbage disposal not long ago. Satisfied that the body was likely Ulanova, investigators went to search the deceased’s apartment, where her lodger and caretaker was still living.

Given what you know about dear old Samsonova, you might be expecting her to confront the police, hatchet in hand. But on the contrary, she was actually bizarrely polite and mild-mannered when they knocked on the door.

When she let them into Ulanova’s place, they found traces of the victim’s blood splattered around the bathroom and kitchen — which tends to happen when you carve up a body — and the shower curtain ripped off of its fittings. 

When pushed to explain this incriminating scene, Samsonova calmly told the cops that Ulanova had insulted her, so she was forced to end her life. She had been scared to go back to her own house, and acted accordingly.

With this matter-of-fact confession, the initial mystery was solved. However, the police had just opened a can of worms that would lead to a massive investigation still ongoing to this day…


Samsonova maintained her relatively relaxed demeanor throughout the whole affair. After first being arrested, she threw out a flurry of wild red herrings to the cops, but soon calmed down, speaking calmly and candidly about her crimes.

On July 29th, she sat in a windowed pen at the Frunze District Court of St. Petersburg, wearing a red sweater, red hair in a messy perm. She cut a fragile, non-threatening figure, an image completely at odds with the crimes she was brought in for. 

This was her first hearing after being detained: a small event, and not particularly long. When pushed for her version of events, Mrs Samsonova had no problem admitting to the murder of her friend, and actually expressed a bit of relief that the whole thing was over.

When reporters got a chance to photograph her, she blew them a kiss, and said “I knew you would come..[…] It’s such a disgrace for me, all the city will know.” From the tone, you’d think she was talking about missing a church meeting, or having a bust-up with Ethil down the bingo. 

Towards the end of the hearing, the judge asked her: “I am asked to arrest you. What do you think?”. She told him “You decide, your honour. After all, I am guilty and I deserve a punishment.” 

He ordered Samsonova be held in custody for the duration of the investigation, to which she smiled earnestly, and gave a little burst of applause.


This must have been one of the most compliant suspects the St Petersburg judicial system had ever dealt with. She even went back to the apartment with officers to reenact how she had cut up the body of Ulanova, which seems a little unnecessary to be honest.

Using a creepy orange dummy in place of the victim, she displayed the exact order in which she took apart the body, starting with the head. She told them how she wrapped each piece in parts of the shower curtain, before packing them into the plastic bags seen in the video. 

She was forced to abandon the heaviest parts — the legs and hips — in the back yard. The rest, she dumped around the Frunzensky district.

Samsonova then showed officers how she had taken Ulanova’s head, and boiled it in the saucepan in an attempt to hide her identity. Oh sorry, did you think the saucepan was just for transportation? No, this story is far madder than that, you should know that by now. 

The killer did the same with her victim’s hands in an attempt to hide the fingerprints, and then set about scattering the pieces around the neighborhood as best she could. Of course, the old dear was no spring chicken, so it was taking a while to properly get rid of the evidence, giving the police plenty of time to catch her.

Interestingly, she never did disclose where the head and internal organs were hidden. A neighbor suspected that she may have disposed of them in the communal rubbish bins, which would have been collected and taken to landfill before any alarms were raised, but we’ll never know for sure.

Although Samsonova hadn’t done such a good job of covering her tracks this time, in her younger days though, she’d have been able to get rid of the body without arousing any suspicion at all. And that’s not just speculation on my part…


See, the arrest of Samsonova was just the beginning. When the police searched her house, they found a bizarre, scrawly diary written in Russian, German, and English. Alongside mundane details of her eating habits and daily chores, it also spoke in painstaking detail about a career of murderous terror stretching back decades. As it turned out, this old lady had more skeletons in her closet than anyone could possibly have guessed.

Ulanova was far from her first victim. Actually, it seemed like the departed old dear was almost a way for Samsonova to finally bring an end to her decades-long spree: one last murder which she knew she could never get away with, just to finally be done with it all. In a later court appearance, she is quoted as saying: “I was getting ready for this court action for dozens of years. It was all done deliberately. There is no way to live. With this last murder I closed the chapter.”

The police, however, were just beginning to open the book on one of Russia’s most gruesome true crime stories. The deeper they dug into Samsonova’s life, the more bizarre, unsettling details would come to light. 

Once you’re all filled in, you won’t look at those old biddies down the post office the same ever again…


Her Dark Inspirations

Tamara Samsonova
Tamara Samsonova

Each grisly new detail provided fresh fodder for the tabloids. In the UK, some hack at The Sun newspaper dubbed her “The Granny Ripper”, which sounds more like someone who murders elderly ladies rather than the other way about, but far be it from me to criticize such top tier journalists.

Much of the fascination came from the fact that such a mild mannered old lady could secretly be capable of such horrific crimes. So before we look at just how many victims Samsonova claimed, let’s first interrogate her motives; how exactly does a perfectly normal St Petersburg housewife turn into the sort of person that chops up corpses? 

Well, as you might have already guessed, there was certainly some severe mental illness at work. Back in the courtroom, she had told reporters “I’m haunted by a maniac upstairs who forced me to kill”. 

When she moved in with Ulanova, she realized that these voices in her head quietened down, which is why she was in such a panic at the thought of having to leave. The story about the renovations had been made up just so she could get out of her home in the first place.

So violent schizophrenia seems to have formed the basis for her series of bloody misdeeds, but the killer granny also augmented her delusions with a healthy amount of reading. I’m not talking Agatha Christie novels; Samsonova’s tastes were a little bit more niche…


Black Magic

As if only to cement her place as the most black-metal granny of all time, Samsonova apparently also dabbled in the dark arts. The diary which set police on the hunt for her past victims wasn’t the only book in her flat. It was found atop a pile of texts on astrology and magic (not the teen-friendly Harry Potter kind). 

One of her neighbors told police that the killer was a keen reader of all things occult. That in itself isn’t a sure sign of a murderer, but when someone’s this into it, it’s a pretty solid red flag.

Samsonova even kept notes in her diary based on her esoteric black magic books, which led the police to believe that her killings might have been part of some deranged rituals. Now, I’m no believer in the occult, but the fact that some people are such believers that they’re willing to chop up their mates is terrifying enough in itself. 

Boomers are impressionable people, after all — the minute they read an Infowars article about 5G towers turning toddlers gay, they’re writing an angry letter to their local council. Who knows what havoc Beelzebub could wreak if he started taking out Facebook ads. I mean, he certainly got good mileage out of Samsonova. 

Judging by the contents of the diary, the police judged that she must have been actively murdering for at least two decades. Some of the killings were easier to verify than others. For example, when the cops flicked through her spell books, they found that some pages had been ripped out. As it happened, one of the missing pages was an exact match for a leaf found on the discarded body of an unknown man way back in 2003.

Can you guess who it is yet?



I’ll come back to that soon, but first I want to absolutely ruin your day with another fun fact. This doddering old demon didn’t just stop at murdering her victims; there’s a solid chance she also had a bit of a nibble on them as well. 

Yes, although it’s not been conclusively proven, the police suspect that Samsonova may have had some cannibalistic tendencies. We already know she boiled the head and hands of Ulanova, ostensibly for the sake of concealing the victim’s identity. Why though, would she have gone to all the trouble of cutting out the victim’s lungs? 

It’s thought that those were in the saucepan along with the head. Cooking them would do nothing to hide the victim’s identity, so many believe she had done this for the sake of eating parts of them. This isn’t baseless speculation either; her diary also made repeated references to cannibalism, according to the police. 

It’s never been outright confirmed beyond all doubt that Samsonova had a taste for human flesh, but in the absence of any clear physical evidence, we have the next best thing: the woman herself admitted to doing it, just like it said in her diary. In those pages, she suggested that she would eat parts of the lungs, legs, and even the heads of her victims, before disposing of the rest. 

You’d best try and shift that image out of your head before the next Sunday roast at nan’s house.


Andrei Chikatilo

As for how a little old lady even became exposed to all this mutilation and cannibalism in the first place, one of her neighbors thought she might have the answer. Marina Krivenko lived right next door to the killer, and she told the papers that Samsonova was fascinated with the story of another violent maniac who terrorized the Soviet Union several decades earlier: Andrei Chikalito — the Butcher of Rostov.

Apparently, St Petersburg’s OAP serial killer had been collecting information about this violent rapist and murderer and how he went about his crimes. As a result, some of the Russian papers even dubbed her a female version of that retro serial killer.. 

To understand her fixation, and how it might have influenced her own murders, it’s worth taking a short detour into that historical case. Be warned, things are gonna get rough…


Born in Ukraine in 1936, Chikalito spent his early years suffering from the famine which had swept over the country on account of Stalin’s collectivist agricultural reforms. The young Ukrainian and his family often had to resort to eating grass just to put something in their stomachs. (Sorry undergrads — communism sucks).

His mother even told the boy that he once had an older brother, who was kidnapped and eaten by some of their neighbors before he was born (although that story has never been confirmed). Throughout the war and German occupation, things only got worse; Chikalito had to witness all kinds of horrors, including possibly the sexual assault of his own mother by Nazi soldiers. 

If you need an origins story for a serial killer, that basically checks all the boxes. Chikalito would go on to spread that same kind of terrible violence throughout the USSR for the rest of his days. At the start of his teaching career, was forced to quit his first two jobs after reports that he had been assaulting female students began to surface.

Chronically impotent, Chikalito always had severe sexual insecurities, which became a key part of his motivations for murder. Usually he would attempt to sexually assault his victims, and fly into a murderous rage when unsuccessful. It was 1978 when he did this for the first time.. Another local sex offender ended up facing a firing squad for the killing, leaving Chikatilo free to embark on an extensive spree that would leave dozens dead.

I won’t go into each murder one by one, because you don’t need that in your life right now — and quite frankly, there’s not even nearly enough time. All we need to know for now, is that his brutality only increased with each killing; he bit pieces from his victims, cut out their organs, and removed their eyes in the superstitious belief they would capture his image in their dying moments.

It wasn’t until 1990 that he was finally caught, when a mass surveillance operation was launched to ensnare him. He was spotted attempting to coerce children into following him, and finally arrested on November 20th while trying to draw potential victims in with a jar of beer.

Chikalito confessed to all of the murders linked to the manhunt — 56 in total — providing insider knowledge of most. He told police that he found the struggling and muffled cries of his victims relaxing — the psychopath’s equivalent of whale song, I guess. He also admitted to eaten parts of the victims in some instances, including their tongues and reproductive organs

In the end, The Butcher of Rostov was successfully convicted of 52 of the killings, with 9 later repealed for a lack of proof. Still, a total of 43 was more than enough to secure a death sentence, and with a pistol tucked behind his ear, he was executed with a single shot on the 14th of February 1994.


We could go even deeper into this story with a full episode, but Christ, it’d be a heavy one. If you reckon you could handle the horror of it, I’m willing to risk my sanity to bring it to you. But if not, you won’t hear me complaining.

For now we can move on, back to the case of the Granny Ripper. The disturbed pensioner undeniably had some echoes of Chikalito in her modus operandi. The act of cutting out the organs from the victims, for example, was potentially borrowed from her gruesome idol. As was the extent to which she defaced the corpses of her victims. Oh, and the touch of cannibalism, of course.

There are plenty of differences between them though. Chikalito, for example, only made cursory attempts to hide the bodies of his victims, and took a manic pleasure out of murdering them in a frenzy. Samsonova, on the other hand, was relatively careful to fly under the radar, and cut up her victim’s bodies so they would be extremely difficult to piece back together and identify.

Still, given her fascination, one has to wonder that when Samsonova spoke of a “maniac upstairs” forcing her to kill, was she making a coded reference to her mental health issues, or did this mean something a bit more literal to her? 

There’s no hard evidence to show just how far her obsession with the Butcher went. But given her mental state and apparent interest in his story, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to speculate that he might have played at least a small part in her psychotic delusions.


The Extent of Her Crimes

As I mentioned, Chikatilo managed to kill over 50 victims before his capture, but how about. Samsonova? Was she ever able to match the awfulness of her idol?

Both of them certainly got a similar treatment in the media, for sure. While the Soviet-era slasher was called an evil vampire, Samsonova was nicknamed Baba Yaga: a forest-dwelling creature from old Slavic folklore, which has the form of a haggard old woman. In some versions, the monster is said to trick people into trusting her, before killing and eating them.

As sensationalist as that kind of nickname is, I have to admit it isn’t a bad fit. Samsonova did tend to target people who she had managed to draw into her confidence, and in many instances, her home. I’m sure you’ve already made a good guess as to who a couple of her victims were.


A diary entry from 2003 revealed that she had killed one of her earliest lodgers, whose then-unidentified torso and limbs had been found with pages from an occult book resting on top. The remains could now be identified because Samsonova had written about his distinctive shoulder tattoo in previous diary entries. It was Sergei Potanin — her second known lodger. She had poisoned his borscht with nitrazepam.

Those with a keen memory will remember that he wasn’t the first man to make a speedy disappearance from Samsonova’s life. First, her husband went missing back in 2000, and although the diary didn’t conclusively reveal his fate, it’s suspected that he met a similar end to Sergei.

After that, there was Vladimir, the first lodger. When the police went searching for him, they got a pleasant surprise:  he turned up safe and sound to aid the police in their investigation. He told them that he and Samsonova had shared a personal relationship throughout the summer and autumn, but he decided to break it off. That was the subject of the argument I had mentioned before. Not long after, he was admitted to hospital with poisoning symptoms, and decided to get as far away from his landlady as possible. 

Judging by the diary, Vlad wasn’t the only one with that name to take up residence with the Granny Ripper, and the other wasn’t so lucky. One of the entries reads: “I killed my tenant Volodya [short for Vladimir], cut him to pieces in the bathroom with a knife, put the pieces of his body in plastic bags, and threw them away in different parts of the Frunzensky District.”


If we take the whole book at its word, then many of others who set up in the Baba Yaga’s spare room throughout the years met the same fate as Vlad the Second. Some believe that she drew in her male victims using her sexuality, enticing younger men to come live with her before ending their lives. 

Her neighbor Krivenko backs up this narrative. She reported that the elderly killer had been a good-looking woman in her day, and she often sat on the windowsill of her apartment topless, showing off, with her back to the street.

She noted how men came and went from the apartment after just a few weeks or months, nobody really thought anything of it. For example, a man named Alexander Baryshev was a resident there for just one week before he went missing without a trace. Samsonova actually confessed to killing him shortly after her arrest, before quickly retracting her story. She told the officers: “I was just joking”. Ha ha Tamara — good one.

It wasn’t just her neighbors who came out to give evidence against her. One of her old classmates, named Anna Batalina, told police that Samsonova had once boasted about killing her mother in law too. She never came forward before out of fear of the woman, who once threatened to cut her up and feed her to dogs.


So that’s a lot of information. A lot of hearsay. A lot of different angles. How about some cold, hard statistics instead?

Well, all in all, based on the diary and witness testimony, Samsonova was under suspicion for at least 11 murders. If we include other unsolved cases in which body parts were strewn around St Petersburg in the same style, the number might actually be closer to 21. 

In the majority of the cases, she’s thought to have followed the same brutal methodology: immobilizing her victims with drugs, before cutting them up while still alive. Tough to think of a worse way to go, in my opinion.

It’s worth noting only a handful of these deaths had enough evidence around them to bring official charges, and none of them have been tested in court as of yet. Unless the perpetrator is one day deemed fit to stand trial, they will probably never be…


Where Is She Now?

For now though, Samsonova is enjoying her retirement in a psychiatric ward. After chirpily asking to be punished for her crimes, she was carted away for a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation. 

On November 26th, 2015, it was concluded that she should be confined to Kazan Psychiatric Hospital while the investigation was taking place. It was there that her paranoid schizophrenia was officially diagnosed.

This Soviet-era building was one of the favorite dumping grounds for Lavrentiy Beria, the vicious police chief of Josef Stalin’s regime. Those designated as enemies of the state could find themselves confined within this tightly-guarded compound, in squalid conditions. I’m hoping they’ve at least done a bit of redecorating since its gulag days, but at any rate I’m sure it’s not the most pleasant place to stay.

Samsonova was only set to remain there until the authorities were ready to take her to trial back in St Petersburg. However, in 2017, on the advice of her psychiatrists, the judge sentenced her to life in the high-security institution. 

Were a trial to go ahead, much of the prosecution’s case would be based on the testimony of a clearly very unstable person, and many written records of murders without bodies to match them. Instead, it was determined that the best outcome for all was to confine the Baba Yaga within those walls for life. 

So a full trial for the two confirmed murders (Valentina and Sergei) will likely never take place, although that doesn’t mean the police have put the case to bed. With Samsonova pushing 74, and many murders potentially connected to her, it’s likely that pieces of her legacy of terror will still be getting uncovered long after she’s gone.

As for the deadly pensioner herself, she believes she’s right where she’s supposed to be. She’s quoted as saying: “I have nowhere else to live. I am a very old person, and I put the whole matter to rest deliberately. I have thought 77 times about it and then decided that I must be in prison. I will die there and the state will probably bury me[…]”

A realistic assessment, for sure.



Given what we already know, it’s likely that there are plenty of bloody revelations left unknown in the case of Tamara Samsonova. This was a woman who had no qualms about dismembering living people, dumping pieces of corpses in public places, and probably even consuming parts of her victim’s organs. Her’s is a case so bizarre that it seems custom made for over-the-top Daily Mail headlines:


But behind all of that media sensationalism is the story of a severely disturbed individual. It’s up to far more knowledgeable people than me to figure out exactly what drove her to commit such a terrible series of killings. All the rest of us can do is look on in horror, and remember that murderers come in all shapes, sizes, and ages.

So the next time old Doris invites you in for a cuppa, run. Run for your life.

Dismembered Appendices

1. On the night of the Slavic pagan Ivan Kupala festival, a neighbor of Samsonova had spotted pentagrams and strange writing drawn on the back wall of their building. She thought it was some kids pulling a prank, but in retrospect she realized it might’ve been the resident occultist. Still, don’t get carried away, and remember the real driving force behind this case: schizophrenia, not Satan.

2. If Samsonova was really inspired by The Butcher of Rostov, she wouldn’t be the first. He’s basically the poster boy of Slavic psychopaths, named as an inspiration by Moscow’s ‘Chessboard Maniac’ slayer, an ex-cop in Siberia who killed dozens of victims, a Nazi-sympathizing cannibal from Belinsky, and ‘The Beast’: another ex-cop who may have murdered as many as 200 women in Ukraine. That’s a Wikipedia rabbit hole you do not want to go down.

3. The hacksaw which Samsonova used to carve up the bodies of all her victims was actually borrowed from her neighbor Marina Krivenko. I… doubt she’s itching to get it back any time soon. Remember, if your neighbor ever comes to borrow any DIY tools from your shed, be sure to wipe off all your fingerprints first.

Fact Checking Note

This is another one for which the dates are all messed up in many of the English articles. A lot say the husband disappeared in 2005, but as far as I can see this is a misinterpretation of Russian-language articles which say “over 10 years ago” then later specify “2000”. Slapdash journalists instead read it as just “10 years ago” (2015 – 10). 

The names of the victims are also messed up in many reports. Russian sources show that Vladimir the first lodger survived, and came back to give his statement. Her diary did mention a Vladimir who she killed, but it cannot be the same one. Tabloids have just linked the two people together, and mixed them together with Sergei.



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