A MAN dubbed ‘Russia’s worst ever serial killer’ who is convicted of 78 murders of women may have up to 30 more victims, it is alleged.
Mikhail Popkov, 55, was found guilty of 22 murders then another 56 in which he attacked his victims with axes, hammers, knives, screwdrivers and spades.
The married ex-policeman nicknamed ‘The Werewolf’ committed his crimes over an 18 year period.
Popkov raped most of the women aged 18 to 50 before butchering them between 1992 to 2010.
He confessed he led a double life - one as a husband and father and another where he committed murders.
Popkov, from Angarsk in Siberia, is due to start a life sentence for the mass killings.
The ‘maniac’ will be imminently sent to one of Russia’s high security jails from which he will never be released.
But now a police source who formerly worked on the mass murder case has made the extraordinary claim that detectives failed to probe potentially dozens of other killings of which the murderer is suspected.
The police source, who asked for anonymity, said: “There are 15 to 20 more murders on the Popkov case in Angarsk that have not been investigated.
“And between five and ten likely murders when, after leaving the police, he worked on the road driving across Russia as a car dealer.
“So totally there is a minimum of 20 new murders and a maximum of 30.”
The source claimed regional police chiefs are ‘not interested in revealing the true number of Popkov’s victims’.
“This will put them in a difficult situation in front of the Moscow authorities - how to explain to them and journalists why the crimes were not solved in a timely way,” he alleged.
They feared “punishment” from Moscow that “this maniac existed in the region for that long and the case was not fully solved,” claimed the source.
In December when Popkov was found guilty in his second trial, held in Irkutsk, the prosecuting authorities were adamant the investigations into the case were over.
Yet state investigator Yevgeny Karchevsky - a serving officer credited with obtaining Popkov’s confessions - has also indicated there could be more victims .
He said: “During our last meeting I asked Mikhail: ‘With this, are we closing it all?’
“He did not say ‘Yes’.
“He said: ‘I told you everything I can remember’.”
Popkov had appealed not the guilty verdicts but a court decision to strip him of his police rank as a lieutenant - meaning he could no longer claim a £285 a month state pension for his service in the force.
His appeal was rejected.
One of only two survivors told how aged 17 she woke in a morgue after ‘The Werewolf’ brutally raped her, then banged her head against a tree, and left her for dead.
As with many victims, he had offered her a lift in his police patrol car before attacking her.
After the trial, a state prosecutor said: “He clearly loved killing.
“Some victims had 145, or even 170 knife wounds.
“He said that he felt satisfied when he felt their pain as they were stabbed.”
His adult daughter Katya, a teacher, has spoken of her difficulty in believing her “loving father” was a bloodthirsty killer and rapist.
Popkov confessed: “I had a double-life.
“In one life I was an ordinary person, I was in the service in the police, having positive feedback on my work.
“I had a family. My wife and daughter considered me a good husband and father, which corresponded to reality.
“In my other life I committed murders, which I carefully concealed from everyone, realising that this was a criminal offence.
“My wife and daughter never knew about the crimes I committed and did not even suspect this.”
After he was detained in 2012, he told police he wanted to ‘cleanse’ the streets of ‘prostitutes’.
“They abandoned their husbands and children at home and went out to party as if it was the last day on earth,” he said.