Beijing: A senior Chinese policeman has been jailed for 17 years for embezzling money to buy two Australian homes for his two daughters.
The Australian real estate purchases were among a huge property portfolio, with no obvious legitimate source of funding, Chinese prosecutors said.
One of the homes is a four bedroom, two bathroom house in Revesby Heights in NSW, Australian property records show.
Wang Jun Ren, 59, was the police chief of Guta District of Jinzhou City in Liaoning province, when he began asking a local property developer for millions of Chinese yuan to pay for the Australian real estate purchases for his family.
In return, he outsourced up to 20 construction projects to the property developer, including the construction of police stations, Chinese court documents show.
In 2008, documents showed Wang took 2.36 million Chinese yuan (440,000) from a Beizhen city property developer to buy a property for his oldest daughter, Wang Ju, and her husband, Jin Jing, in Australia.
In August and December 2011, Wang reimbursed 101,911 Chinese yuan in airfares for his wife and daughters’ return travel to Australia from a police bureau bank account, the court was told.
The Revesby house was bought by Wang Ju and her husband for $840,000 in September 2011.
In September 2013, Wang used public funds to convert currency into $20,000 to visit his family in Australia.
The same year he took another 4million Chinese yuan from the same property developer to buy an Australian property for his second daughter, Wang Ting. The money was transferred directly to her bank account in small amounts by the property developer’s employees, the court was told.
Wang was arrested in August 2015, confessed and returned some of the money last year. He was originally convicted in August 2016.
Around the time of the trial, his daughter moved out of the Revesby house. She has kept it as an investment property, and purchased another home in Sydney’s Castle Hill for $1.7 million.
But a 17-year-jail sentence and 1million Chinese yuan fine was handed down to Wang after Linghai City prosecutors appealed what they said was the earlier, lenient sentence. His wife has been on bail since December.
Wang was convicted of corruptly taking 174million yuan by himself, and another 24,800 yuan with his wife, taking bribes of 680million yuan, and having a huge amount of property of unknown source. That trial was held in December.
The jail sentence comprised of four years for corruption, 12 years for bribe taking, and four years for the unknown funding source of a huge number of properties.
The court heard evidence from the property developer detailing how he transferred the money to Australia, was told that Wang returned the favour to the property developer by outsourcing the construction projects to his company, including the construction of police stations.
The property developer’s son was employed as Wang’s driver at a police station.
In 1887, New York State appointed three men to evaluate many possible ways to execute a man—which they did in disturbing detail.
Government reports rarely make for stimulating reading. That’s because most government reports aren’t about throwing people off a cliff or clubbing them to death.
In 1887, the state of New York published what became popularly known as the Gerry Commission Report. This is one piece of bureaucratic prose that is neither dull nor boring. In fact, it may be among the most macabre and gruesome in the annals of American writing.
And it was important. The ramifications of this execution encyclopedia—officially titled “The Commission to Investigate and Report the Most Humane and Practical Method of Carrying into Effect the Sentence of Death in Capital Cases”—echo still in the courts and prisons of America.
People implicated in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln await execution by hanging, 1865.
34 Ways to Die
Three men wrote the Gerry report. There was Elbridge Gerry of New York, grandson of another Elbridge Gerry who signed the Declaration of Independence and became the fifth vice president of the United States. There was Matthew Hale, grandson of Nathan Hale, the Revolutionary War patriot who famously regretted he had but one life to give for his country. And there was Alfred Southwick, a Buffalo dentist who was the grandson of nobody particularly famous. In 1887, the New York State Legislature appointed this trio to a committee charged with examining all the ways New York State could put condemned felons to death and recommending the best way to do so.
From colonial times, hanging had been the official form of lawful execution in New York State, but by the 1880s, there was a growing sentiment among New Yorkers that it was barbaric practice. Indeed, there were far too many newspaper stories of hangings gone bad: broken ropes requiring hurried do-overs, incorrectly measured drops resulting in decapitation, and men slowly strangling to death instead of instantly breaking their necks. Such goings-on might be acceptable on the western frontier, but New York prided itself on being the most cosmopolitan and sophisticated state in the Union. There must be a more forward-thinking way to execute a person, it presumed.
Marching orders in hand, the three men catalogued every conceivable method in which the state could dispatch a person from this mortal realm. Then they comprehensively examined the merits of each. The resulting Gerry Commission report is full of lively writing and lurid anecdotes.
In all, the commission evaluated 34 different methods of execution, listing them in alphabetical order. Some methods were described in a single paragraph, while others—which presumably the authors found more interesting—took several pages to illustrate. They are:
Auto da fe (burning to death for heresy)
Beating with clubs
Blowing from a cannon
Boiling (“Usually in hot water but sometimes in melted sulfur, lead or the like.”)
Breaking on the wheel
Decimation (a military punishment for mutineers)
Dichotomy (cutting a person in half)
Dismemberment (like dichotomy but even messier)
Exposure to wild beasts
Garrote (strangling with a cord)
Iron Maiden (A machine in the image of the Virgin Mary equipped with spring loaded knives)
Peine forte et dure (placing heavy weights to stop breathing)
Pounding in a mortar (like it sounds)
Precipitation (throwing from a cliff)
Pressing to death
Running the gauntlet (being made to walk between two lines of men, each of whom has a club.)
The commission did not pull punches in their descriptions of capital punishment. In their analysis of beheading, they provide numerous examples from England, France, China, and Japan.
“(In Japan) the prisoner’s arms were pinioned behind his back. He raised a weak quavering voice to its highest pitch and screamed out, ‘My friends!’ Immediately an unearthly chorus of wails answered the poor wretch from his friends outside the walls. This was followed by ‘Syonara!’ All was ready; the word was given. Without raising his weapon more than a foot above the neck of the condemned, the executioner brought down his heavy blade with an audible thud.”
It gets more morbid. Under the heading of burning they relate:
“An extraordinary method of this punishment was known as ‘the illuminated body’ and invented by Sefi II, Shah of Persia. The victim was stretched on a slab and fastened to it. Innumerable little holes were bored all over his body. These were filled with oil, and all lighted together. The poor victim perished in the most unspeakable agony.”
Some methods are so bizarre that they seem almost risible, at least at a far remove of time and distance. The commission studied the method of execution they called “blowing from a cannon” based on its contemporary use in the East Indian army, whose soldiers were called “Sepoys.” Apparently, there were two ways for doing this. The report states that “the insurgent Sepoy, lashed to the cannon’s mouth, within two second of pulling the trigger, was blown in 10,000 atoms.” Alternatively, the “living body of the offender is thrust into the cannon, forming, as one might say, part of the charge.”
One of the oddest punishments explored was number 25, pounding in a mortar. In Proverbs 27:22, the Bible reads, “Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.” This biblical passage evidently prompted a religious Gerry Commission member to consider “pounding in mortar” as a possible method of serving the death sentence. Presumably, this procedure would involve the condemned being placed in a large mortar or similar vessel and then pounded with an enormous pestle. This is much like what happens when one prepares a mint julep, except a condemned prisoner is substituted for the mint leaves.
LIONEL Patea has been sentenced to life in prison for the brutal killing of his ex-girlfriend Tara Brown on a suburban Gold Coast street. Queensland Australia
Earlier, the court heard Patea had ordered his aunt — the mother of singer Ricki-Lee Coulter — to deny Tara Brown access to their child in the days before he brutally killed his ex-girlfriend. A court has also heard Patea phoned the child’s daycare centre to ask one question before carrying out his brutal slaying.
Coulter’s mother, Loretta Sheerin, was babysitting Ms Brown’s young daughter in the days before she was killed.
Patea has pleaded guilty to Ms Brown’s murder and will be sentenced in the Brisbane Supreme Court this afternoon.
The court was told during sentencing submissions this morning that Patea commanded his aunt, named in court as Ms Sheerin, not to let Ms Brown see their child while he was in Gladstone for work.
But Ms Sheerin allowed Ms Brown to stay the night and visit the child.
In the days following, Ms Brown applied for domestic violence and child custody orders and was living in a safe house away from the Gold Coast.
On September 6, she returned to the Gold Coast to stay with a friend and was looking for a rental home to “get her life back in order”.
Interim custody orders with Patea were finalised soon after, and the court was told they were served on Patea’s lawyer on September 7.
About 8am the next the day, Patea phoned Aria’s childcare and asked if she would be attending today.
“It was confirmed that she was,” crown prosecutor Carl Heaton QC said.
Patea chased Ms Brown as she drove away from the daycare, ran her off the road and bashed her to death.
Justice Debra Mullins will hand down her sentence from 2.30pm.
Guilty plea in Tara Brown murder trial
EARLIER: Triple 0 call reveals horror of Tara’s death
LIONEL Patea has pleaded guilty to the murder of his former girlfriend Tara Brown.
Ms Brown, 24, died after Patea ran her off the road in a suburban Gold Coast street in September, 2015.
As she lay trapped in the car, Patea viciously beat her with a cast-iron water hydrant cover.
Ms Brown had just dropped their daughter, Aria, off at childcare when the shocking attack unfolded.
Patea entered guilty pleas to murder, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and unlawful use of a motor vehicle shortly after 10am this morning, before his trial was scheduled to start.
Gold Coast lawyer Campbell MacCallum made a statement outside court on behalf is his client.
In the statement, Patea said he accepted “full responsibility” for his actions.
“I do this with the full support of my family who have encouraged me in my decision to face up to my actions and provide closure for the Brown family,” Mr MacCallum read.
“I do not want to cause Tara’s family further pain.
“I accept without hesitation the punishment imposed upon me by the justice system.”
Earlier, in court, Ms Brown’s mother Natalie Hinton wept as Patea was brought into the dock wearing a navy suit, white shirt and black tie.
It is understood Ms Brown made a harrowing Triple 0 call before her death, which was to be a key piece of evidence in the trial.
The young mum suffered critical head injuries and died the next day in hospital.
Patea’s sentencing hearing has begun, with evidence heard of the brave witnesses who attempted to stop Patea’s brutal actions.
One man, who lived in a nearby home, had helped Patea to get into the car after he ran Ms Brown off the road, believing he was trying to help her. He couldn’t have imagined what would happen next.
Crown prosecutor Carl Heaton QC has told the court Patea began beating Ms Brown with the cover of a water hydrant
Ms Brown was on the phone to Triple 0 at the time and the attack was recorded.
Mr Heaton said 16 “thumps” are heard on the audio, and then a female witness can be heard saying: “what the f**k are you doing”.
There are another 13 “thumps”, Mr Heaton said, “followed by silence”.
The female witness jumped on Patea’s back at one stage and later stood between him and Ms Brown as she lay trapped in the car and told him to “piss off”.
The male witness had tried to pull him from Ms Brown and phone police, to no avail.
Her death sent shockwaves through the nation, and that grief was compounded when just two days later a Karina Lock was murdered by her husband at the Helensvale McDonald’s.
The domestic violence murders sparked calls from the community for the State Government to act.
National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800 RESPECT.
Siti Aisyah insisted to an Indonesian diplomat who met her in jail that she believed she was taking part in a prank.
Malaysian police have revealed that nerve agent, which is classified as a chemical weapon under international laws, was dabbed on the eyes of 46-year-old Kim Jong-nam. He sought medical help after the attack at Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13 but died shortly afterwards on the way to hospital.
Last week police rejected reports that 25-year-old Ms Siti and 28 year-old Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong believed they were taking part in the television show, Just for Laughs, and said they repeatedly trained for the act.
But Andreano Erwin, the deputy chief of Indonesia’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur, said Ms Siti told him during a 30-minute meeting that she did not know the liquid on her hands was the world’s most potent nerve agent.
“She just said she was given some kind of oil, like baby oil,” Mr Erwin told reporters.
“She didn’t know about the poison – that is the answer from her.”
According to Mr Erwin, Ms Siti said the men who asked her to carry out the act had names like ‘James’ and ‘Chang.
She thought they were Japanese or Korean.
CCTV cameras captured one of the women who confronted Mr Kim walking hurriedly away, and slightly turning back to look at him. She had been wearing a distinctive white “LOL” shirt.
Recently, in an airport in Kuala Lumpur, two women approached Kim Jong Nam—estranged half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un—from behind. They swiped what the victim described to nearby customer service agents as a “wet cloth” across his face, and fled. Shortly after, he was dead.
Now, Malaysian authorities say they’ve identified the substance that took Jong Nam’s life: VX, a nerve agent that the United Nations classifies as a weapon of mass destruction. And while it’s not an entirely uncommon substance—or particularly difficult to produce—its apparent use marks a troubling break from international norms. And if officials manage to link it back to North Korea, it could have serious consequences.
If you’re already familiar with VX agent, it’s likely because of seminal 90s action flick The Rock, in which a disgruntled Ed Harris brings over a dozen VX-laden warheads along with him to seize Alcatraz.
VX doesn’t work quite the way The Rock depicts it. Specifically, contact with it doesn’t cause human skin to bubble and sear. But it plays havoc with the human nervous system. Like other nerve agents, VX interferes with the signals that pass between your brain and your muscles. “If you have a nerve impulse that tells a muscle to contract, you have to turn off the impulse. Otherwise the muscle will stay contracted,” says Matthew Meselson, a geneticist at Harvard and member of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation national advisory board. “The one that primarily kills is a spasm of the diaphragm, so you can’t breathe. You die of asphyxiation.”
VX can work through skin contact or respiration, and while it’s part of a broader class of nerve agents that all accomplish roughly the same effect, experts consider it to be especially dangerous, even among banned substances. “It’s heavier than other nerve agents, so it settles on an environment and can be persistent on the ground. If it was used in larger quantities, it could make an area non-usable,” says Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security.
As the Kim Jong-nam incident showed, though, smaller quantities are also dangerous. “Even a tiny drop is lethal,” Inglesby says.
And while an antidote exists—atropine, which unlocks the muscles that VX causes to seize up—the nerve agent works so quickly that it’s no use unless there’s a hypodermic needle on scene.
So dangerous is the stuff, in fact, that all but a handful of countries agreed to destroy whatever stockpiles they had of VX as part of the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. One of the handful of holdouts: North Korea.
The Red Line
In 1995, Japan’s Aum Shinrikyo cult turned the nerve agent on a small number of its members, whom leaders believed to be police informants. On a larger scale, VX was one of the chemical weapons deployed in the Iran-Iraq war. The Kim Jong Nam case, though, would be the first VX assassination on record, and the first time chemical weapons were used to that end since a ricin pellet—fired from an umbrella gun—took Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov’s life in 1978.
“That this particular chemical weapon would be used in a political assassination in a third country is very alarming. It’s a red line,” says Ingelsby. “It should be considered a new threshold that’s been crossed in terms of unconventional weapons.”
Those norms matter. After decades without any nation deploying chemical weapons, Syria used sarin and chlorine gas. If a nation-state such as North Korea uses VX once, they or other actors may well do it again.
‘It should be considered a new threshold that’s been crossed in terms of unconventional weapons.’ Dr. Tom Inglesby, Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security
That’s all conditional for a reason. While North Korea maintains a VX stockpile, and Kim Jong Un may well have considered his half-brother a threat to his rule, there’s no direct link between the VX airport incident and the hermit kingdom. And there may well never be, at least from the weapon of choice.
“It’s not very hard to produce, so it’s doubtful that the specific use can be chemical-traced back to North Korea,” says Sigmund Gartner, director of the Penn State School of International Affairs. Any decent organic chemist can make the stuff.
Meselson also says that it may not have been VX at all; if it was, it’s remarkable that the two women survived the attack as well.
All of which underscores how critical the next several days of investigation will be. If it turns out to be a random or untraceable act, it may at least prove to be an isolated incident. Should a direct link to North Korea exist, the world will find itself in potentially dangerous, uncharted waters.
“The political reaction should be very strong internationally, once all the facts are in,” says Ingelsby. “Responsible countries around the world should make it very clear that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.”
Unfortunately, that’s the thing about red lines. Once you cross them, there’s no going back.
IT’S the painstaking, stark detail in her police statement that speaks volumes.
Kate Moir was just 17, had endured three rapes, hours of terror, frantically calculating her odds of living through being in the clutches of Australia’s worst serial killers, David and Catherine Birnie.
Later as she sat with police, she clinically detailed the shininess of the chains with which she was shackled to the bed, the cold feel and weight of them as they went on, the “mustard-coloured robe” her rapist wore as she was used as a plaything.
The marijuana they shared with her. The showers they made her take before and after she was raped.
The movies they made her watch. The one left in the video player when she escaped.
The clues she left in what became known as the death house in Perth: a lipstick stashed in the couch; a slip of paper with her phone number; the sleeping pills she wouldn’t swallow stuffed under the mattress … anything that would leave a trail to help someone discover the truth about what had happened and who had done it when she wound up dead.
This is the story of the woman who survived by her wits, and a stroke of luck, and ended a four-week killing spree at the hands of monsters that left four other women dead.
And 30 years since escaping the clutches of the Birnies the memories remain clear, and Ms Moir has finally shared the full details of that night, and her escape, in her first television interview.
Her story, and that of that then rookie police officer who took that statement — it was Constable Laura Hancock’s first day on the job — are the centrepiece of the first installment of Channel Seven’s new crime show Murder Uncovered.
The investigative series revisits some of Australia’s worst crimes, with those who were there telling their stories, as well as uncovering new evidence.
The first episode traces the horrific killing spree of the Birnies, revisiting the police investigation, the four murders they were jailed for and the chilling ways they finetuned their rituals and lured their victims.
It speaks with the families of the killers, as well as investigating another three disappearances many believe came at the evil duo’s hands.
“I asked ‘Are you going to rape me or kill me?’ Ms Moir tells Murder Uncovered of that night on November 9, 1986, when she had accepted a lift from a harmless-looking couple after a night out with friends in Perth.
The reply was: “We’ll only rape you if you’re good.”
What the “very drunk” Ms Moir could not know when she accepted the lift home was Catherine and David Birnie were four murders into a four-week killing spree.
Outside Ms Moir’s family home, she tried the car door, but there was no interior door handle.
They told her to use the outside handle. It wasn’t there.
The butcher’s knife flashed out of his ugg boot and against her throat.
‘I’VE GOT THE MUNCHIES’
“I remember hearing, ‘Have you got the munchies?’,” Ms Moir recalls.
Those words were Catherine Birnie’s sick sign to her husband they’d found their latest target.
“David was the puppet, Catherine was the puppeteer.
“She gave the tick of approval. She would say ‘I’ve got the munchies’, which meant ‘you can have this one’.
“You know you’re gonna die but you don’t acknowledge that to yourself, you just live it,” she says, as she relives the two hours that led up to the first rape.
They quizzed her about who she was, put on a video of the movie, Rambo, made her shower.
“I remember thinking it was weird to make me shower before they raped me,” she says.
“They made me dance in front of them to (Dire Straits song) Romeo and Juliet. It was two hours of mental torture. I cried when I danced.”
“I had a 200 per cent chance of dying and 5 per cent chance of getting away,” she says.
He raped her the first time, not long after midnight. Catherine Birnie watched. And took notes.
Another shower. Chained to a bed.
Sometime during the night, she convinced them to give her a pen and paper, and wrote “goodbye letters” to her loved ones.
When she began screaming, he told her the “sleeping arrangements have changed” and moved her to their master bedroom, where the rapes continued.
‘I THOUGHT IF I WENT TO SLEEP, I’D NEVER WAKE UP’
He handcuffed by her foot to his, told her to take the pills he offered and go to sleep.
She hid them under her tongue, then stuffed them under the mattress.
“I thought if I went to sleep I’d never wake up.”
In the morning, she was ordered to call her parents. She told them she’d got really drunk, in the hope they would be furious, not having previously known she drank, and start searching.
When David Birnie went to work, Ms Moir says, she changed her odds of surviving to “50/50” — she just had to get away from Catherine, try to befriend her, get her to drop her guard.
A knock on the front door distracted her captor, who forgot to secure her victim, and Ms Moir saw her only chance.
“The (bedroom) window must have been locked. I got the courage to break the lock and push it open,” she says.
She fell out the window onto the driveway, struggled up, bolted across the road to the nearest house. She tried three doors with nobody home, and got attacked by a dog before, hysterical, barefoot, wearing only black leggings and a singlet, she saw a store opposite.
She ran to the man standing outside it.
“I said ‘Help I’ve been raped. Please take me inside and call the police’,” Ms Moir says.
“If a woman comes here and says I’ve had a fight with her and I’m her daughter, don’t believe her. I’ve been raped.”
He sped with her to the local police station. They screeched to a stop in a cloud of dust.
Now she had to make police believe her.
And with that, the Birnies had lost their serial killer script.
David Birnie hanged himself in prison. Catherine Birnie is eligible for parole this year.
Murder Uncovered premieres on Wednesday, February 8 at 9pm on Seven
Kate Moir as a teenager in Perth. Picture: News Corp
AN OLD friend of accused Melbourne killer Dimitrious ‘Jimmy’ Gargasoulas has revealed his father called her an “Australian sl*t”.
Ms Bland said the driver’s father was very strict.
Alisha Bland, former girlfriend of the driver’s half-brother George, told news.com.au the family “didn’t accept her because she wasn’t Greek.”
Ms Bland, 30, said Gargasoulas’s mother Emily would ‘get on the phone telling her to leave George alone.’
She said the boys’ father Chris told her over the phone, “You’re nothing but an Aussie sl*t, and Aussies are for a good time not a long time”, and that the driver’s mother Emily would “get on the phone telling me to leave George alone”.
Ms Bland, 30, added: “They even accused me of trying to get pregnant to steal his inheritance.”
Gargasoulas grew up here in Coober Pedy, but the home burned down ten years ago and was replaced with a car port
Gargasoulas allegedly mowed down pedestrians in Melbourne city centre, killing five, including two children, and injuring 15
She used to speak to him on the phone when he was a teenager living in Coober Pedy, South Australia, and she was dating his older half-brother George.
Emily Gargasoulas said she wanted her son to ‘die in hell’
Chris Gargasoulas said he would ‘scratch his son off his books’.
Ms Bland said she did not believe Gargasoulas’s alleged actions were related to extremism, and the family had nothing to do with radical Islam. Police have also ruled out a terrorism connection.
“From what I know Dimitri started believing he was God and started rambling about Islam,” she said.
She said Gargasoulas, his brother Angelo and their mother Emily moved to Melbourne a few years ago to support the kids’ half-brother George after his mother died. The family home in Coober Pedy burned down 10 years ago and was replaced with a makeshift house made from a car port. Locals said the 26-year-old would often visit and was last in town with girlfriend Akiir Muo, staying for a few months before leaving late last year. Strange cars would often pull up at their home at all hours of the night, stay briefly and then take off.
The 26-year-old driver allegedly stabbed Angelo at their mother’s public housing apartment before he headed out on his alleged rampage, with his 25-year-old pregnant girlfriend Ms Muo allegedly held hostage.
Gargasoulas allegedly stabbed his brother Angelo, pictured, who is gay, before going on a rampage.
Ms Bland dated the alleged killer’s half-brother George when Gargasoulas was a teenager.
“I’d presume once he left Coober Pedy to Melbourne he probably mixed with the wrong crowd, he stabbed his brother because Angelo is gay,” said Ms Bland. “Dimitri was very homophobic.
“Dimitri’s girlfriend is five months’ pregnant with his fourth or fifth child.
“Apparently he stopped seeing his kids.”
The couple had only been dating about five months. Gargasoulas posted a series of homophobic and semi-religious rants on his Facebook page, which has now been removed.
The accounts of his mother Emily, brother Angelo and half-brother George have also been removed from the social network. According to Ms Bland, Emily only had photos of Angelo, none of Dimitrious.
Ms Bland last spoke to George on Monday over Facebook and said she was worried about how he is coping and is desperately trying to get in touch with him.
Former Siberian policeman Mikhail Popkov, who is already serving a life sentence for the murders of 22 women, has confessed to killing 59 more, police told the Siberian Times.
Nicknamed the “werewolf” of Siberia for the brutality of his methods – he raped women and then killed them with axes, knives or screwdrivers – Mikhail Popkov carried out his bloody rampage between 1992 and 2010 in the Angarsk and Irkutsk regions of Siberia, the paper reported. According to the state news agency Tass, he resigned as a police officer in 1998.
When he was first detained in 2012, the Siberian Times said, he told police his goal was to “cleanse” the streets of prostitutes.
According to Tass, the investigation began when women kept disappearing from public places in Angarsk in the mid-1990s, at the time Popkov was a police officer. Later, authorities started finding mutilated bodies of the women around Irkutsk.
They also found tire tracks from a Niva cross-country vehicle at some of the crime scenes, which ultimately led them to Popkov.
At first he confessed to three murders.
But as police investigated, and as he began talking, the number rose to the 22 for which he was convicted and sentenced in January 2015.
Irkutsk police spokeswoman Karina Golovacheva has told the Siberian Times that Popkov has now confessed to 59 new slayings. “That means, if we add them to the earlier 22, it will be 81 murders in total.” Of the 59 cases, 47 have produced charges. “We are quite sure about the 12 other cases,” Golovacheva told the paper, and “in the nearest future we can bring charges” in the 12 others.
The victims have ranged in age from 17 to 38.
Popkov, according to earlier reports of the case, started his spree when he was a policeman, offering women rides in his police car and then taking them to remote locations and raping and killing them.
After laborious probes, police have found body after body in the places where Popkov told them they were hidden.
The Siberian Times speculated that he was confessing gradually to the killings rather than all at once in hopes of delaying his transfer from a detention prison to a penal colony.
If authorities ultimately confirm 81 as the number of Popkov’s victims, that would make him one of the most prolific serial killers of all time, behind Colombia’s Luis Garavito, a child-killer nicknamed “The Beast” who claimed at least 138 lives in the 1990s, and Pedro Lopez (“The Monster of the Andes”) with 110 proven victims in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru between 1969 and 1980.