Ex-Cop in Siberia Found Guilty of Killing, Dismembering Prostitutes After 18-Year Murder Probe

A Russian police officer walks at the yard of the Vysokopetrovsky Monastery in downtown Moscow on January 18. Security measures were increased around Russian churches prior to the celebration of the Orthodox Epiphany holiday. Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

An alleged serial killer likened to a Russian Jack the Ripper has been found guilty of murdering 19 different women in a spree during what he calls the "period of chaos" in the 1990s.

Yevgeniy Chuplinsky, nicknamed the "Novosibirsk Maniac" by the Russian press, has long been at the center of a gruesome 18-year-long investigation into the deaths of women, most of whom were suspected of prostitution, in southern Siberia. The murders, which took place between 1998 and 2005, ended with the dismemberment of the victims, whose remains were hidden in different parts of Novosibirsk city. The women were aged between 18 and 31 years old.

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Chuplinsky, once a police officer in the region, only became a suspect in 2006, as authorities found a cellphone in his car, thought to have belonged to one of the victims. He was first arrested then, but released due to insufficient evidence to prosecute him. Ten years later, police arrested him once again, this time with traces of his saliva found on the clothes of one of the victims.

This time, Chuplinsky was jailed and reports emerged that he had confessed to some of the murders. His actions were motivated by a sense that the victims were "harmful for society" and the disturbing dismemberment of the corpses was a mere misdirect so that investigators believed practitioners of the occult were behind the crime, not him. Part of the confession was captured by regional media on video. The retired policeman then retracted this testimony, announcing that he made it under duress and that he was in fact innocent, local news outlet NGS reported.

"I am not a maniac killer," Chuplinsky said in a statement obtained by Russian news site Lenta in January. "Of course I am no Winnie the Pooh but the role of a monster is also not one for me."

The former officer said he was acquainted with many of the prostitutes in Novosibirsk, who served as informants during his police work, while he provided protection for them, should they be in serious trouble.

"These were the '90s, not the simplest years," Chuplinsky said, referring to the difficult decade many Russians lived through following the quick collapse of the Soviet Union and many of the power structures that came with it. "I simply lived by the laws of the times in the period of chaos."

He says the cell phone belonging to one of the victims fell into his possession in an unrelated happenstance after he had retired from the force in 2004, while he was using his car as a cab to earn extra cash.

The ex-officer has been found coherent by court experts and cannot plead insanity. Investigators say they have carried out an extensive inquiry, testing over 5,000 men as the potential culprit and interviewing more than 8,000 witnesses, the Interfax news agency reported. A jury rejected the man's revised story this week finding him guilty of murder and theft but deserving no leniency. A judge's final verdict is yet to determine his sentence, but is scheduled for next week.