Transcript: 60. The Doll Maker | Russia


You are listening to: The Evidence Locker.


Our cases have been researched using open source and archive materials. It deals with true crimes and real people. Each episode is produced with the utmost respect to the victims, their families and loved ones. 


Warning:

Today’s episode deals with the tampering of corpses and may not be suitable for everybody. Listener discretion is advised.


**Russian Birthday Song Audio Clip**


They were all dressed up and sitting quietly in the cluttered living room. Books and heaps of paper and documents were stacked all around. The room was decorated for the party with balloons and streamers. The man was happy, singing to himself as he walked around the room. He prompted them all to sing with him, but each of them had a different song, some of them could not sing at all… 


He stepped into a dance and disappeared into the kitchen. Moments later he was back carrying a cake with lighted candles. Like every other birthday, he sang Crocodile Gena’s Birthday Song. Everyone stared at him in silence. He didn’t care, this was Olga’s birthday and he wouldn’t let anything spoil it. After having some cake – a second slice for good luck too – he turned on the TV. This was his favourite time of the day – time to watch cartoons. He loved them all: the silly sounds, the exaggerated eye-pops and bright colours. He had a collection of Cartoons on video and never seemed to mind watching the same ones over and over again. 


Anatoly Moskvin was in his element; birthdays were always happy days. But this was no ordinary birthday party. For starters, the birthday girl was no longer alive. In fact none of the party guests were alive either… 


What was going on inside this musty, over-crowded two-bedroom apartment on Lenin Avenue in the heart of Nizhny Novgorod?


>>Intro Music


Anatoly Yurevych Moskvin was born on the 1st of September 1966 to parents Yuri and Elvira. The family lived in Nizhny Novgorod, the 5th largest city in Russia, which is located 250 miles (about 400 kilometres) East of Moscow. It was the hometown of one of Russia’s most famous authors, Maxim Gorky, and when Lenin came to power, he renamed the city Gorky. It was a centre for military research and because of top secret projects, the whole city was closed to foreigners during the Soviet era. 


The secrets of Gorky were so protected that one could not even buy a street map of the city until the late 1970s. After the Cold War, the ‘closed’ status ended and city was renamed yet again, to Nizhny Novgorod, which means Lower Newtown. 


When Anatoly Moskvin was a young boy, the city of Gorky was a great place to be. It’s a place where the Volga and Oka rivers meet and known as one of the sunniest cities in Russia. He was one of the brightest kids in his class and excelled in school. But he was always somewhat awkward socially. Most of his peers simply thought he had his head in the clouds, as he was clearly the intellectual type. He never had many friends and spent most of his time reading and studying. 


In 1979, Moskvin was 13 years old. One day, he was out collecting waste paper for a school project. He went from door to door, asking if they had any old papers that he could take off their hands. When he arrived at the one house, there was a crowd. He was intrigued and peeked inside. That is when he noticed an open coffin with a young girl inside. Anatoly looked on as the grieving family of an 11-year-old girl called Natasha Petrova said their last goodbyes. 


Although they didn’t go to the same school, Moskvin knew Natasha. He also knew what had happened to her. A year before, her father passed away and her mother was struggling to keep up the maintenance of their home. One night, Natasha got out of a bath and while she was still wet, accidentally made contact with an exposed wire. The electric shock was too much for her little body to take and she tragically passed away.


At the funeral, a group of men saw the young Moskvin looking on, and called him to go closer. He was like a moth to a flame and did as he was told. The men took him to Natasha’s grieving mother. The woman gave him an apple, kissed him on the forehead, then took him to Natasha. She told him to kiss the dead girl, and he protested. But everyone in the room stepped closer in threatening silence and he realised it was not a request, it was an order. In later years, he recalled the incident, saying:


“An adult pushed my face down to the waxy forehead of the girl in an embroidered cap, and there was nothing I could do but kiss her as ordered.


Natasha’s mother gave Anatoly two worn copper rings and told him to put one on Natasha’s ring finger and the other one on his own finger. The event played out like a macabre wedding ceremony. The incident sparked an interest in Anatoly Moskvin. From that point onward, his fascination with the dead became a lifelong interest. 


He became obsessed with graveyards and would spend his time there, like other kids would hang out in parks. He was particularly drawn to the Krasnaya Etna Cemetery, where Natasha Petrova was buried and went to visit her grave whenever he could. Her mother moved away a couple of years after her death and Moskvin claimed that he was the only one who looked after her grave.


Moskvin said that in the years after the incident at her wake, he had many dreams of Natasha. They were so vivid, it felt more like apparitions than dreams. She would appear in a haze and sing to him, eerily haunting songs. She demanded he learnt magic – she would teach him everything she knew. He ignored the dreams as long as he could, but was eventually so creeped out, that he told his parents about the nightmares. He never mentioned anything about the bizarre corpse wedding, the event that most probably triggered his nightmares. Concerned, his parents took him to a doctor to seek help. The doctor said his haunting dreams were happening because of hormonal changes and puberty. Moskvin was told to ride it out and that it would not last forever.


But the nightmares continued. Moskvin was so desperate to move on, that he decided to change his tactic and started conversing with Natasha. He asked her what he could do so she would stop pestering him. According to Moskvin, he eventually ‘got rid’ of Natasha’s nightly hauntings when she instructed him how to pass her on to one of his class mates. Moskvin felt he had nothing to lose, so he performed a simple magic ceremony, as instructed by Natasha, and he was finally free. However, the classmate became a bit of a nuisance, as he would not leave Moskvin alone.


Finally able to sleep at night, he could focus on his schoolwork again. He was an intelligent teen and after school he furthered his studies at Moscow State University. He studied Philology, which is the study of history through literature and oral tales passed down from one generation to the next. Moskvin’s favourite area was Celtic history and folklore and he had a clear aptitude in languages and linguistics. 


As a student, he was part of the Luciferian Society. Luciferians are different to Satanists. Although both reject Christianity and believe in Lucifer or Satan, Luciferians see him as an archetype rather than a defined entity. Luciferianism is more of a philosophy than a religion and followers believe in enlightenment, independence, liberty and progress. Kind of ‘the thinking man’s worship’ if you will. They celebrate Lucifer’s light rather than his darkness. The general belief is that angels, like humans have both good and evil in them and that even fallen angels should be revered. Luciferians take a vow of celibacy and vow to abstain from alcohol and smoking. They also perform black magic rituals. 


Moskvin was especially taken in by the history of The Watchers, or fallen angels. Watchers are believed to have been human in appearance, but they were in fact celestial beings. They were in charge of watching people and reporting to God about the progress of the human race. However, in an act of defiance, they stepped out of their traditional duties as mere observers and became teachers of culture and civilisation. But, according to the book of Enoch, when God saw the anarchy caused by interaction between Watchers and humans, he sent his archangels to destroy them. 


Taking most of this onboard, by the end of his student years, Moskvin identified as a Pagan. With his immersive love of Celtic history, it came as no surprise to people who knew him.


Moskvin quickly made name for himself in academic circles and he was seen as highly intelligent, genius some would say. He was a typical ‘nutty professor’ type who was obsessed with knowledge. After graduation, he took a job as a lecturer in Celtic studies at Nizhny Novgorod Linguistic University, as well as the Institute of Foreign Languages. He spoke 13 languages and published many highly regarded papers and translations. He also worked as a freelance journalist and habitually contributed to local academic publications.


In one article Moskvin relayed the story of Natasha’s funeral. He wrote:


“My strange marriage with Natasha Petrova was useful.”


He claimed that it was because of his encounter on the day of Natasha’s wake, that he had developed a fascination in what he referred to as ‘serious magic ceremonies’.


Moskvin’s story of being forced to kiss Natasha and told to place a ring on her finger may sound far-fetched, but this ritual was an actual thing. It was called ‘Totenhochzeit’ or ‘the wedding of the dead’ practiced by German communities in Siberia in the 16th to 19th centuries. Historical records say that, if someone died before they were married (because they were too young or for any other reason) they were buried in wedding clothes. During the funeral rite, some elements of the wedding ritual were included. In was a symbolic gesture, so the person did not leave the world unattached.


Natasha’s mother is said to have passed away in 1990, so Moskvin’s unusual story could never be verified.


Moskvin studied ancient cultures and rituals and felt that he had a better understanding of what Natasha’s mother had pulled him in to. He had an extensive collection of books and spent all of his time researching various topics within the field of philology. He became interested in burial rituals, cemeteries and the occult. He referred to himself as a ‘necropolist’, an expert on cemeteries. And in the Nizhny Novgorod area, he was the definitive authority on the topic. As a hobby, he also assisted people in looking for the graves of long-lost relatives.


He lived a secluded life in the apartment he shared with his ageing parents. He never showed any interest in having a love life and was said to have been a virgin. He did not drink alcohol and never smoked – this was perhaps because of the vows he had taken as a student.


In 2005, he was commissioned by Oleg Riabov – a fellow academic – to list the dead in 752 cemeteries in the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast or province. He took the job very seriously and saw it as an opportunity to immortalise his life’s work. The mission took two years to complete, from 2005 to 2007. Moskvin went on foot, some days walking as far as 19 miles, that is 30 kilometres. He lived like a drifter during this time, getting water from puddles on the road, sleeping in abandoned buildings or barns. Sometimes he even slept at the cemeteries. Once, he spent the night in an unoccupied coffin that was being prepared for a funeral the next day.


Because of his strange behaviour, he was often stopped by police and accused of vandalism or theft, but he was never charged, as there was no evidence. Once he had explained to police about his academic background and about his research, they let him go.


Moskvin posted a series of articles about his travels and discoveries entitled “Great Walks Around Cemeteries” and “What the Dead Said”. Between 2006 and 2010, Moskvin worked as a correspondent for a newspaper called Nizhny Novgorod Worker. In 2008 he wrote a series of articles about Nizhny Novgorod cemeteries exclusively for this newspaper.


Alexei Yesin, editor of Necrologies sang Moskvin’s praises and said that his work was ‘unique’ and ‘priceless’. Necrologies is a weekly paper that publishes obituaries and stories about cemeteries and the dead.


In 2009 strange things were happening in Nizhny Novgorod. Police were investigating a series of grave desecrations in multiple cemeteries. They thought that extremist organisations were behind it and set up a task force to investigate. But they could not find any evidence leading to an extremist group who had anything to do with the vandalised gravesites. 


At a loss, they interviewed the one person who knew everything about cemeteries in the city, Anatoly Moskvin. Because he was known to have spent a lot of time in cemeteries, they thought perhaps he saw something. Perhaps he had photographs or something that could provide investigators with a clue as to who was vandalising the graves. Moskvin became defensive and immediately claimed that he had no knowledge of the vandalism. 


His reaction caught police officers off-guard. It was a bit strange, to say the least. Police did not suspect Moskvin at all – they had no reason to – they were simply looking for help and collecting information. If anyone could help them craft a workable theory, surely it would be the respected academic. Suspicious as the situation was, they could hardly arrest a man because he was somewhat socially awkward. They left it at that and asked him to contact them if he remembered anything.


In 2011 there was a terrorist attack at Domodedovo airport in Moscow, a suicide bombing that killed 37 people and injured more than 170. Militant jihadist organisation, Caucasian Emirates claimed responsibility two weeks after the attack. Following the events in Moscow, reports came in to Nizhny Novgorod police that Muslim graves had been vandalised. Pictures on Muslim graves were painted over, but nothing else was damaged. Police decided to keep surveillance on one of the cemeteries. 


On Wednesday the 2nd of November 2011, investigators saw the province’s most knowledgeable citizen, 45-year-old Anatoly Moskvin in the Muslim section of a Nizhny Novgorod cemetery. He was acting strangely, which, as they knew by then, was not unusual for him. But when he blatantly started vandalising a headstone, they decided to take him in for questioning.


First, police officers thought it would be a good idea to take Moskvin to his home. Perhaps they could obtain more evidence of vandalism against him. 


When they arrived at the apartment he shared with his parents on Lenin Avenue, nobody was home. The place was in complete disarray, it looked like the beginnings of a hoarder’s home, with many senseless items scattered around. Books were stacked on the floor, academic papers were lying everywhere, clothing was flung over the backs of chairs… And there was an odd smell to go with it all.


It soon became clear that Moskvin had a bizarre hobby. Among the chaos were many life-sized, hand-painted dolls. They looked like badly-made antique dolls, but on closer inspection, they realised that the dolls weren’t dolls at all. In fact, they were mummified bodies of girls and young women. When the realisation hit, they found more and more, throughout the entire the apartment and flowing over into the garage. 


Altogether, police uncovered 29 mummified bodies on Moskvin’s property.


Police officers recorded their walk-through of the apartment for evidential purposes. Afterwards they admitted that they all needed a few shots of Vodka before they could carry on. The horror of what they were witnessing was almost unbearable.


Police video footage show how the mummies were placed around the house: on chairs, shelves – it was simply part of the general clutter in the flat. When one of the officers picked up one of the bodies, music started playing. It took a while for officers to find where the haunting tune was coming from. On closer inspection, they realised that the music came from inside one of the mummies. Moskvin had inserted music boxes into the chests of some of the bodies. One body had a voice box that said:


“Teddy bear loves honey very much.”


To keep them plump, he stuffed some bodies with personal items and rags. One girl even had a piece of her own headstone placed inside of her. Another one had a hospital tag with the date and the cause of her death. Inside a third body, they found a dried out human heart.


Police had the painful task of identifying all the bodies. They looked at reports of vandalism in graveyards, made by families of the departed. They then visited the gravesites to see which of the vandalised graves had been robbed and left empty. 


Moskvin did not vandalise all the graves he robbed. Many parents did not realise they were mourning at empty graves. It was only after the discovery of the mummified dolls that they were informed about the fate of their daughters’ remains. Families accompanied police and watched as their daughters’ graves were excavated. They held their hearts as they looked on. The graves were holy to them, a place where they paid respects and grieved. This situation was far beyond anyone’s worst nightmare, the fact that their loved ones were not resting in peace after all…


During the search, some vandalised gravesites still housed the remains of the deceased, others were ominously empty.


To support their findings, police asked families of missing bodies for photos or any relevant information that could help in the identification process. They were shown pictures of Moskvin’s ‘dolls’ and asked if anything looked familiar. Old clothes were discovered in the apartment and found to be clothes some of the girls were buried in. He redressed the bodies in new clothes, but never threw away the outfits they came in. 


Moskvin was arguably the most hated man in Russia at the time of the discovery. Mugshots taken on the day of his arrest show a bruised and battered man. It was clear that he was assaulted by his arresting officers. 


One mother said that many years before, when she first noticed the damage to her daughter’s headstone, she reported it to police. Police were shocked when they saw the grave, but said there was not much they could do. She recalled the conversation:


“They told us: if you find him, do what you want to this barbarian, we won't object. At this point we knew nothing about Moskvin, or that he had already removed her, but if I'd met him at (my daughter’s) grave, I would have killed him with my own hands.”

In the months that followed, the true horror of Anatoly Moskvin’s actions came to light. He exhumed bodies from local cemeteries and then mummified them himself. After reading up on ‘How to Make Dolls’ and studying the science of mummification, he was confident in his craft. He dressed them up and painted their faces, put them on display in his home, which he shared with his parents. For years everyone thought he had made the ‘dolls’ from scratch and even though it was a bit of an odd hobby, it was not out of place for the eccentric historian.


Neighbours were shocked when they heard the news. They had a lot of respect for the professor and would never have thought he could be capable of tampering with dead bodies. Some neighbours said that they would occasionally smell a bad whiff when he opened the door. But they lived in an old building and foul odours coming from the basement was perfectly normal. Besides, the Moskvin home was so cluttered and untidy, if the smell was coming from there, it could have been because of rotting food or something else.


Alexei Yesin, editor of Necrologies, who once regarded Moskvin’s work as ‘unique’ and ‘priceless’, refused to believe that Moskvin could have been guilty. Yesin was certain that there was a misunderstanding somewhere as Moskvin was quirky and strange, but Yesin felt he was harmless. He was sure that Moskvin would be acquitted and the whole thing would be cleared up in no time. 


Although only 29 bodies were found at his property, it was believed that Anatoly Moskvin had desecrated more than 150 graves. Evidence like name plates or pieces of gravestones were all found in his possession.


He had detailed written accounts of how to make dolls and in his room were maps marking all the cemeteries in Nizhny Novgorod. In his possession were videos of open graves and disinterred bodies. Many photos too. However, none of the footage or photographs could be linked to the bodies in Moskvin’s home.


The investigation concluded that most of the bodies came from cemeteries in Nizhny Novgorod, cemeteries visited by Moskvin during his research. Some bodies were from cemeteries of Moscow and surrounds. 


Police found shoes in Moskvin’s apartment, which he identified as his own shoes, matched footprints found at multiple desecrated grave sites. Faced with the evidence, Moskvin knew there was no point in denying what he had done. He gave police his full co-operation. He spoke freely and fluently, almost robotically, over-intellectualising his thought process, flailing between what he did, how he did it and why. 


He did not show remorse as he firmly believed he performed a valuable service and referred 

to himself as the ‘Kind Angel’. Perhaps there was a part of him that felt he was one of the fallen angels, A ‘Watcher’, who looked after the girls until such a time that they could be reincarnated or cloned. 


Moskvin claimed that he had great sympathy for dead children. He felt that it was up to him to protect them. Perhaps somewhere in the future they could be brought back to life – either through science or by using Black Magic. He thought if he could preserve them, they would be content and in peace until the time of their resurrection. 


He seriously did believe he was their caretaker, a saviour of sorts. He admitted to police that he knew what he was doing was wrong, but he felt the children were calling out to him, begging him to help them. To him, his duty to come to their rescue was more important than obeying the law.


When asked if he knew what he was doing was regarded as a crime, he said that he did, but he couldn’t help himself – he felt so sorry for the girls and wanted to help them. He was a gifted ‘necromancer’ (that is, someone who uses magic to communicate with the dead) and genuinely believed they needed his service. He said:


“Of course I knew from the very beginning that I was committing a crime, but I was very sorry for the children... In our country, cloning is prohibited. Sooner or later it will be allowed anyway. I saved them for future cloning, so that these children could live, for the second time. Yes, every time I dug up something, I covered the grave behind me so that nobody could see what I’ve done… I understood that it was illegal. When the heroes of our science Dubinin, Chetverikov, when they conducted experiments on drosophila somewhere in their closet, they also knew that this was illegal under the laws of Stalin's time. Back then genetics was banned. Cloning is prohibited at the moment. But one day… Who knows?” 


Moskvin admitted that he had been collecting young girls’ remains from cemeteries for 10 years. When he started out, he took the bodies of grown women, but later realised it was easier to transport the smaller ones back to his home.


He scoured obituaries to see if any children had passed. If the obituary ‘spoke’ to him, he would take a short pilgrimage to the cemetery where he would spend the night, sleeping on the fresh grave. If the girl communicated that she wanted to be saved, he would take her. The communication would usually happen in a dream, like the way Natasha Petrova appeared to him when he was a young teen. He swore that if they did not ‘call for him’ he would leave them be. 


He described his whole process of mummification in detail: after he took a body, he would find a dry and secure place to leave it inside the cemetery. He used a mixture of salt and baking soda and left them to dry out. He called this ‘a vaccination’. Once they were dry enough, he took them to his home, where he made them into dolls by using wax and nail polish. He also wrapped their limbs in strips of cloth, so it would stay intact. Sometimes, if he could not use their own heads, he used the heads of actual dolls and propped it on top of a mummified torso. He dressed them in brightly coloured children’s clothes with wigs and hats. He inserted buttons or toy eyes into their eye sockets so they could watch TV with him.


He was their surrogate father and they were in his care. When his parents were around, he did not interact with the dolls. But when they left, he watched cartoons with them, read to them and played music for them. They celebrated birthdays and holidays like any other family would. He retrieved birth dates he would get from their headstones and diligently wrote them on a calendar on the wall in his room.


Moskvin explained:


“What I would do with living children, I did with these. I thought they were alive – just temporarily dead...”


This family he created was no usual one though. He used their actual names and created back stories for their characters. The family had an internal hierarchy with a leader and a deputy. They even developed their own language.


In speaking to his interrogators, he painted the picture of a happy family home. All ‘his girls’ watched cartoons while he worked on his computer. He talked to them, out loud and answered their questions. He ate alone, but offered them food, out of respect. Because he wanted to be a good father, he studied some modules on child psychology, to help him give his daughters proper guidance.


To make matters even darker… Moskvin left notes, addressed to the girls, at their graves. The parents found it and were creeped out by the ongoing gesture. In one case he addressed the notes to ‘Little Lady’ and signed it as ‘Kind Angel’. The notes alluded to how well the writer was looking after the girls. He kept up to date with how old they would have been, had they still been alive. For instance, to one girl he wrote: 


“Happy last day of your 6th year in school.”


On the first day of the new school year, he left a note to wish her good luck for the academic year ahead. In one instance he became agitated when the parents had not chosen a headstone. He left a note, addressed to the parents, saying:


“If you don't erect a great monument which she deserves, we will dig her body out.”


The note-writing was such a cruel ritual, as grieving families did not know what to make of it. They always felt it was metaphorical, that someone interpreted memorialising the girls as ‘taking care of them’. But when the families realised how literal the notes were, that Moskvin physically ‘looked after the girls’, they were absolutely mortified. 


He was asked why he only took girls, not boys. He said he always wanted a daughter. Once he tried to adopt a girl, but his parents urged him not to go through with it. His application would have been denied anyway, as he did not have sufficient income. 


He denied that the experience was sexual in any way. Remember, in his student years he took a vow of celibacy, something he claimed to have kept throughout his life. A police officer who interrogated Moskvin at length said:


“He loathed sex and thought it was disgusting.”


Moskvin spoke candidly in a newspaper interview, describing what exactly happened when he visited the cemeteries with the intention of taking a body.


“I did not dig up corpses, I dug up BODIES. I came at night, knowing which grave, respectively. I watched how deep the body was located, then made a tunnel, used a chisel to peel the boards slightly, put the body out…I practiced necromancy and intercourse with the spirits of dead children…


Moskvin also turned to his professional background to explain why he was so obsessed with the dead. 


 “The fact is that I am a specialist in Celtology and, studying Celtic culture, I noticed that the Druids in this tradition communicated with the spirits of the dead... they came to the grave and slept on this grave. Then, when I studied the culture of the peoples of Siberia, specifically, the culture of the ancient Yakuts, there is the same thing - I became interested. I also began to sleep on the graves of children whose obituaries I had read and liked. Spirits of dead children began to come to me… I collected as much information as I could. Then, if possible, rechecked this information. I made sure that it was truly the spirits of the dead children who were speaking to me. Not all graves were comfortable to sleep on. I adapted to transfer the body to where I could comfortably sleep on them. The fact is that spirits are only in the warm season, in the cold season you will not fall asleep at the grave.”


Moskvin admitted during his interrogation that he was lonely. Especially in the summer months when his parents went away. They left for their country home in April and only returned in October and even took the family cat with them. He was completely alone and was desperately seeking company. His girls made everything better for him, they gave him a sense of purpose.


When Moskvin was asked why some of the dolls ended up in the garage, he simply said that he did not like them anymore.


If, for some reason, the body of a child did not communicate with Moskvin any longer, he would return her to her original grave and leave everything exactly like it was before, to cover his tracks. He was not surprised that there were parents who hadn’t noticed their children’s bodies were gone.


Moskvin’s parents honestly thought the dolls were homemade creations and did not want to discourage their socially awkward, grown son from having a hobby. They were often away, travelling, and for the most part, Moskvin had the apartment to himself.


His mom Elvira was 76 when she learnt the truth about her son’s dark obsession. She said:


“We saw these dolls but we did not suspect there were dead bodies inside. We thought it was his hobby to make such big dolls and did not see anything wrong with it.”


Disturbing as Moskvin’s actions were, police could only charge him for the desecration of graves and dead bodies. In Russia, the maximum prison sentence for this offence is 5 years. At his first court appearance he plead guilty to 44 counts of abusing graves and dead bodies. He still maintained that his actions were acts of mercy when he addressed the victims’ parents. In court, he said:


“You abandoned your girls, I brought them home and warmed them up.”


For the most part, he always referred to the victims as ‘my girls’.


Later, he was also charged with the desecration of the Muslim graves that first brought him onto police radar, but the charges were dropped.


A psychological evaluation in May 2012 concluded that Moskvin suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. He was found to be unfit to stand trial. He was sent to a psychiatric institution where he still lives. Every year his stay is reviewed and every year up to 2019, it has been extended. 


Parents of the victims have made a public appeal for Moskvin to stay under medical supervision for the rest of his life. Natalia Chardymova’s daughter Olga was murdered during a mugging in the lobby of her apartment block in 2002 and her body was among the dolls in Moskvin’s home.


“My girl had been murdered, if anyone deserved to rest in peace, she did, but instead her grave had been robbed.”


Olga’s family was one of the families who were unaware of the fact that she had been taken. Her mother said:


“We had been visiting the grave of our child for nine years and we had no idea it was empty. Instead, she was in this beast’s apartment. I still find it hard to grasp the scale of his sickening ‘work’ but for nine years he was living with my mummified daughter in his bedroom. I had her for ten years, he had her for nine.”


The Russian media dubbed Moskvin ‘The Lord of the Mummies’ or ‘The Perfumer’ (after Patrick Süskind’s novel ‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’), in which the protagonist murders a woman to use her essence in making perfume. The film adaptation of the book stars Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman.


Today, Anatoly Moskvin’s parents live in isolation as the community does not want to associate with them any longer. Elvira contemplated suicide with her husband, but her husband did not want to go through with it. She did not want to leave her husband to deal with the shame of their son’s deeds by himself.


Although Moskvin’s academic works still survive, his professional reputation has been destroyed by his macabre personal life. In 2016 a story emerged that Anatoly Moskvin had found love while he was institutionalised and was going to marry a 25-year-old woman from his hometown of Nizhny Novgorod. They met because she was intrigued by his story and had attended his trial.


In the end, all 29 bodies were returned to their grieving families. The girls were all between the ages of three and 25-years-old and all of them have been laid to rest once more. Moskvin allegedly told authorities not to bury the girls too deeply, as he plans to dig them up as soon as he is released.


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