How Many Victims Did 'The Werewolf' Mikhail Popkov Really Have?

Over the centuries, structured society has generally taught us to trust authority figures, such as police officers. We believe that they are here to help and protect us from all the criminals out there. But what happens when the police officers that we trust to keep us safe are the ones we should actually fear? This unfortunately turned out to be the case with notorious Russian serial killer Mikhail Popkov, also known as "The Werewolf."

Mikhail Popkov was born March 7, 1964, in Siberia, but outside of that, there is not much known about his childhood, except the speculation that he had an abusive and alcoholic mother, according to Murderpedia. When he reached adulthood, he married and had a daughter. Popkov and his wife were both police officers for a time before he became a security guard for an oil company. Per All That's Interesting, Popkov claims that when he began killing, he did so because he believed his wife was cheating on him.

DNA finally stopped him

Mikhail Popkov began his murder spree in 1992 by targeting women that he believed to be impure, explained All That's Interesting. His victims were typically women between the ages of 16 and 40, out at night drinking, clubbing, or being seemingly promiscuous. He would often lure them while wearing his police uniform and waiting in his police car outside of bars or clubs to offer them rides home. He would then rape, murder, and sometimes dismember his victims. According to Ranker, Popkov also reportedly used different weapons, including things that had been confiscated by law enforcement as evidence in other cases. Though he was smart enough to wipe down the weapons, he did not anticipate that changes in technology would eventually be his demise.

In June 2012, The Werewolf was finally arrested after two decades because of the advancement in DNA technology. Upon his initial arrest, he confessed to 22 murders, which he was subsequently convicted for in 2015. Following his first conviction, he then confessed to another 59 killings in early 2018 and was convicted on 56 of those later that year. In total, that means his victim count is now 78 women. This makes him Russia's most prolific serial killer (based on convictions), surpassing Andrei Chikatilo and Alexander Pichushkin.