Anatoly Moskvin was more than just a historian, he was also quite the aficionado of cemeteries. That Russian writer’s outspoken passion for such resting places led authorities to investigate Moskvin’s home in the Nizhny Novgorod area following a series of 2011 grave desecrations.
Police not only found out fast that Moskvin was the guilty party, they discovered 29 bone-chillingly eerie dolls displayed throughout the three-room apartment. Most of the dolls, if not all, contained mummified remains from corpses Moskvin had dug up in the violated burial grounds.
Some reports say that it was actually Moskvin’s parents who tipped off the authorities, after returning home from their summer vacation and discovering their son’s horrible horde. One report quoted his mother as saying she’d been aware of his odd doll-making hobby, but had never suspected there were human remains inside of them. Apparently, he would prowl necropolises during the summer, when his parents were away.
Police believe that Moskvin transported a total of 29 bodies from the cemetery to his home, and that he mummified them according to directions in manuals he’d printed out from the internet. Each body was female, and ranged in approximate age from 11 to 30.
Moskvin costumed his handiwork with dresses, old clothing, and even lace stockings, most of which had also come from the graves. Some dolls contained music boxes that played children’s songs automatically if the doll was moved, responding to touch.
Some reports indicate Moskvin made careful notes of the real lives of the girls and women whose bodies he stole, and that he threw birthday parties for them every year. One of them quoted Moskvin addressing the parents of the exhumed girls, after his arrest: “You abandoned your girls in the cold — and I brought them home and warmed them up.”
Searchers also found various headstones, skulls, and maps of other cemeteries among his ghoulish collection. Moskvin, who referred to himself as a “necropolyst,” was apparently working on a book about cemeteries and had visited at least 750 of them for his “research.” He regularly wrote for a publication called Necrologies, whose editor, Alexei Yesin, said of Moskvin’s submissions, “Many of his articles enlighten his sensual interest in deceased young women, which I took for romantic and somewhat childish fantasies the talented writer emphasized.”
After the arrest, court doctors diagnosed Moskvin with paranoid schizophrenia. A 2012 court hearing deemed him unfit for medical trial and remanded him for medical treatment. All requests to the court to continue Moskvin’s treatment have reportedly been approved ever since, and he remains in a hospital facility.
In 2014, the mother of one of the young girls spoke to the Mirror about her ordeal and grief dealing with Moskvin’s exhumation of her daughter, Olga Chardymova, which compounded her anguish as her daughter’s death at ten years old was due to a murder in the first place. Natalia Chardymova said, “We had been visiting the grave of our child for nine years and we had no idea it was empty. Instead, she was in this beast’s apartment.” She also claims that Moskvin would leave notes on young Olga’s grave over the years, marking holidays and milestones such as first days of school. Heartbreakingly, she states, “I still find it hard to grasp the scale of his sickening work, but for nine years he was living with my mummified daughter in his bedroom. I had her for ten years, he had her for nine.”
The following video from Moskvin’s home shows some of the dolls in a space that resembles something from a horror-themed episode of Hoarders. Apparently, the investigators can be heard to say, in Russian, “These dolls are made of mummified human remains.” The video contains images that may be very disturbing to some viewers.
Main photo: Anatoly Moskvin [screenshot from Mirror video]