The northern Russian town of Petrozavodsk has been plunged into panic with rumors of a serial killer, after two young women were found dead less than a day apart. Police have arrested a potential suspect.
20-year-old fourth-year medicine student Lyudmila Serebryakova stepped outside her halls of residence in a well-lit part of town on Wednesday night.
The attack was sudden and brutal – stab wounds to the stomach and neck. Serebryakova, described as a “popular student from a good family”, who left her relatives behind in her small village to study, died before the ambulance arrived.
In the aftermath, a panic. Some eyewitnesses told locals that they saw a man in camouflage gear waiting outside the dorms.
Word spread quickly that the assailant may have been Daniil, reportedly a former boyfriend Serebryakova ditched after he went away for his army service. But her current partner, Dmitry, told local outlet Gubernia Daily, that Daniil is still serving, and in any case the two men are best friends, and there is no grudge.
Her family say they do not have enough money to even organize the funeral, and have appealed for financial help online.
While police continued to investigate any personal motivations for the suspected murder and categorically denied that a killer was on the loose, a second attack occurred.
This time even more brazen – in broad daylight. Once again a woman was stabbed several times, in a woodland enclosure underneath a traffic bridge. Police say that the second victim, who has not been named yet, died on the spot. Eyewitnesses claimed that she was still breathing when medics got to her, but having suffered massive blood loss, was dead soon after.
Passers-by alleged that they saw a man dressed all in black getting away from the crime scene. But how could a man get away unnoticed in a city of 250,000?
Local outlet Runa posted CCTV footage of a man dressed all in black scuttling towards a busy intersection, before getting into the front seat of a taxi. Perhaps this was the alleged murderer?
All police were placed on high alert and a manhunt was launched. But it wasn’t the men in uniform who made the arrest.
“I saw a man running down the street who seemed either disturbed or drunk,” Nikita Zhiglov, a local resident, told Gubernia Daily. “I began following him, and soon another man joined me. We caught up with him and pinned him down. His hands were covered in blood, so we asked ‘Why?’ He said he cut them on a bottle. Then the police arrived, handcuffed him and took him away.”
The moment of the arrest was captured in amateur footage and shows a man dressed in jeans – not the same outfit as on the CCTV camera – being bundled into a police vehicle.
A local source gave the media unverified information that the detainee was born in 1989, and had attempted an attack on a woman days earlier.
But it remains unclear if the cops have got the right man or if the stabber still walks free among the inhabitants of Petrozavodsk.