The Surprising Way The 'Wolf Of Moscow' Was Finally Caught

The Russian serial killer Vasili Komaroff — the so-called "Wolf of Moscow" — admitted to killing 33 men after his arrest in 1921, according to The True Crime Database. One of the earliest-known modern serial killers in Russia, Komaroff was born in Vitebsk to a poor family in 1871. He grew up, joined the army, and got married. To outsiders, he seemed like an ordinary man leading an ordinary life.

Beneath the surface, however, Komaroff had long been an alcoholic and a criminal. He started drinking at the age of 15. He attempted to rob a military warehouse as a young man, for which he was sentenced to a year in prison. He beat his wife and children, and witnesses told detectives they had seen Komaroff try to hang his 8-year-old boy, before his wife intervened (via Murderpedia). And at some point in the early 1920s, he began killing dozens of men. He was caught only when visiting police noticed a body hidden in his haystack.

'An awfully easy job'

The Wolf of Moscow worked as a horse trader and a bootleg alcohol salesman, according to The True Crime Database. Oddly, it was the former job that led Vasili Komaroff to his victims. Upon going to the marketplace in Moscow, he would find potential buyers for his horse and bring them back to his house, promising outrageously low prices. At his home, he offered them vodka, and, as the buyers sipped on the drink, he'd kill them, either by hitting them with a heavy object, strangling them, or slitting their throat. Then, he'd truss their bodies, put them in a sack, and dispose of their remains in the Shabolovki District neighborhood where he lived (via Murderpedia). Others were thrown into a river.

This happened again and again until police visited Komaroff's home. They were there on a bootleg alcohol investigation, though some sources say that was just a cover for their suspicions (the bodies were always discovered the day after the horse market). It was then that they found Komaroff's latest victim in the stable.

Komaroff eventually confessed to that killing and many others — he said murder was "an awfully easy job." He also alleged that his wife was a willing accomplice. Whether or not this was true, they both were sentenced to death, and were killed by firing squad on June 18, 1923.