Why One Russian Cannibal Killer Was Confused With Another One

Nikolai Espolovich Dzhumagaliev, who was accused of killing, dismembering, and consuming at least nine people between 1971 and 1991, remains one of Russia's most notorious serial killers (per Mysterious Universe). The heinous nature of Dzhumagaliev's crimes was enough to ensure he would not soon be forgotten. However, a gruesome crime spree, a frightening escape, rumors of a second escape, and a case of mistaken identity left local residents terrified for decades.

Dzhumagaliev was born in 1952. By all accounts, his childhood was relatively normal, and he did not show any signs that he would become one of the world's most brutal serial killers. Dzhumagaliev was described as a seemingly happy child and young man and did not have any history of getting into mischief or having any record with local authorities. After completing primary and secondary school, Dzhumagaliev attended and graduated from railway school. He went on to work for a railway company until he was drafted to serve in the Soviet Army, where he worked in the chemical weapons research division.

After Dzhumagaliev was discharged from the army, he traveled throughout the Ural Mountains and the surrounding region and took on a number of odd jobs along the way. Mysterious Universe reports he did not return to his hometown of Uzynagash until 1977. There were no reports of anything unusual about Dzhumagaliev at that time, with the exception of his teeth.

He had unusual teeth

According to Mysterious Universe, several of Nikolai Dzhumagaliev's teeth were broken during a physical altercation. Although the teeth were repaired, the repairs were made with sharp-edged metal and earned him the nickname "metal fang." Dzhumagaliev eventually settled in Uzynagash, where he was gainfully employed as a firefighter. However, his life took a difficult and ultimately dark turn when he was diagnosed with the sexually transmitted diseases syphilis and trichomoniasis. As both diseases can cause mental health issues, it has been suggested that his experiences with such problems may have been triggered by the diseases.

Shortly following his diagnosis, Mysterious Universe reports Dzhumagaliev began having obsessive thoughts about hunting humans. In January 1979, he hunted down and killed his first victim. During a later interview, Dzhumagaliev said, "I always loved to hunt, often went hunting, but this was my first time hunting a woman. ... I felt my heart pound within me and I ran after her. ... I caught up with her and put my arm around her neck, dragged her to the side of the landfill. She resisted, and then I cut her throat with a knife. Then I drank her blood."

In addition to drinking the woman's blood, he also dismembered her body and eventually cooked and consumed pieces of her flesh. Dzhumagaliev later dumped her remains in a remote wooded area, where they were discovered by police. However, authorities did not identify any suspects, and the case was declared cold.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Nikolai Dzhumagaliev was arrested on an unrelated charge

Between January and August 1979, Nikolai Dzhumagaliev brutally killed at least four more women. According to "World Serial Killers II," Dzhumagaliev was ultimately arrested and charged with murder on August 21, 1979. However, the murder he was charged with had nothing to do with his heinous killing spree.

Dzhumagaliev and a fellow firefighter were drinking at his home when Dzhumagaliev shot and killed the other man, per Serial-Killers (via Google Translate). Although the incident was reported immediately and was determined to be accidental, authorities ordered Dzhumagaliev to undergo a mental health evaluation. Doctors at the Serbsky Moscow Institute diagnosed Dzhumagaliev with schizophrenia. However, he was never connected to the serial killings.

Although Dzhumagaliev was sentenced to four years in prison, he only served one year before he was released. By November 1980, Dzhumagaliev was free to continue his crime spree. "World Serial Killers II" reports he killed three more women between November 8 and December 18, 1980. However, the murder he committed on December 18 would be his last.

On the evening of December 17, 1980, Dzhumagaliev, his girlfriend, and some of their friends were hanging out at their home. At some point during the evening, Dzhumagaliev took one of the women into another room. According to Dzhumagaliev, he and the woman had sexual relations. After she had fallen asleep, he killed her and began dismembering her with his girlfriend and other friends in the next room. When the others realized what he was doing, they immediately called the police.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Another serial killer sparked rumors of escape

When authorities arrived on scene, Mysterious Universe reports they found Nikolai Dzhumagaliev nude and covered in blood. Although he initially fled and evaded the officers, he was captured and detained the following day. As he had a history of mental illness, Dzhumagaliev was sentenced to be held in a mental health facility. While incarcerated, he confessed to multiple murders. In addition to sharing the minute details of his crimes, he also explained why he committed the murders. As reported by "World Serial Killers II," Dzhumagaliev said, "This is my revenge on women for violating the laws of nature. A man should be higher than a woman in everything ... I wanted to strike fear into all the women in the area."

Another serial killer, who was later identified as Alexander Skrynnik, was also killing and dismembering women in a nearby region as Dzhumagaliev. As the murders continued after Dzhumagaliev was incarcerated, rumors of his escape terrified local residents. Although the rumors were ultimately disproved, Mysterious Universe reports the brutal killer did manage to escape for a period of two years between 1989 and 1991. He was arrested and sent back to the mental health facility when he was caught stealing a goat.

Although he has remained incarcerated since 1991, rumors about Dzhumagaliev escaping have persisted. In some cases, Tengrinews (via Google Translate) reports the rumors were spread via social media and were difficult to disprove. However, authorities confirmed Dzhumagaliev remains housed in a secure facility.