How Many Victims Did The Wolf Of Moscow Really Have?

In 1921, the Soviet Union was struggling to sustain itself, and in order to make ends meet, Vladimir Lenin introduced the New Economic Policy (via Britannica). This largely involved the reintroduction of a money-based market economy, which for many Russians was a much-needed reprieve. Unfortunately, for some, this policy shift marked the beginning of the end, as from 1921 to 1923, Soviet authorities in Moscow were forced to contend with dozens of bodies found across the city. 

In one of the Soviet Union's first serial murder cases, the suspect came to be known as the "Wolf of Moscow" and eluded capture until 1923, when investigative efforts finally led to Vasili Komaroff as the likely culprit. Komaroff was a Red Army veteran of the Russian Civil War, and on one occasion during his service, managed to escape from captivity by the opposing White Army. He confessed to his deeds, and while he was convicted of 29 murders, he admitted that as many as 33 people died by his hand (via Murderpedia). 

Komaroff murdered 33 people for pocket change

While the motivation for the grisly murders was largely financial, they were facilitated greatly by the Wolf of Moscow's already violent nature. Domestic violence was commonplace in his household, to the point that on one occasion he nearly murdered his own son. With the New Economic Policy, the often financially destitute Komaroff saw potential profit in the horse trade, just not in the way most would go about it — he invited potential buyers into his home, plied them with alcohol, and murdered them (via The True Crime Database). After looting their bodies of whatever money they had (rarely more than a few cents), he would bind their bodies and dispose of them (via Keller On The Loose). 

His wife Sophia soon discovered what he had been doing, but apparently chose to become his accomplice. Officials eventually began to correlate the appearances of the bodies with the days that local horse markets were open, and narrowed their suspicions to Komaroff. After searching his barn for alcohol that neighbors reported to have been the source of his domestic violence, they instead found his latest victim. After a brief escape, his arrest, three suicide attempts, and his confession, Komaroff and his wife were executed (via Find a Grave).