A to Z Challenge: V (serial killers)

Vasili Komaroff — Wolf of Moscow

Fast Facts:

  • Born in 1871, died in 1923 in Russia
  • Killed 33 people over a 2 year period
  • He was caught when it was noticed he rarely brought a horse to the markets but left with customers (the body dumps coincided with the horse markets)
  • He was charged with murder
  • Found guilty and executed by firing squad

Komaroff dealt in horses, maintaining a stable at his home. His neighbours reported him as being a friendly, smiling family man. He bound his victims in sacks and dumped their bodies on waste ground. The bodies were always found on a Thursday or Saturday. Police decided it wasn’t a coincidence as horses went to market on Wednesday afternoons and Fridays, making it likely the markets were the hunting ground. Eventually they heard about Komaroff, who, even though he rarely brought a horse to the markets, often left with customers.

Police asked questions about Komaroff and discovered he had a violent streak and had once tried to hang his eldest son (8 at the time and rescued by his mother). They raided his stable under the pretext of looking for bootleg alcohol, and found a victim, already bagged, beneath a hay stack.

In custody, Komaroff confessed to 33 murders. Robbery was the reason given for the murders, although he only averaged nearly 80 cents per victim. He tried to commit suicide three times, instead asking the court for a speedy trial and execution. Even so, he appealed the conviction but was eventually executed by firing squad.

His wife was charged and executed as being an accomplice as police believed she had to know about the killings.

14 comments on “A to Z Challenge: V (serial killers)

  1. Not a very stable person, was he? Stable… horses… ha ha… 😉 Seriously, though, I’m with Jacqui. Yuck!

    • With the lack of technology they had back then, the sheer volume of people going missing was probably the only reason he got caught.

  2. Let this be a lesson to all serial killers- do not have routines. No patterns. Nothing predictable. Or you will be caught.
    Of all the ways to be executed, firing squad would be gruesome. You’d have to hope that the first shot was the kill shot.

    • With three failed suicides and his last minute plea for his life he obviously didn’t want to die, so he was probably terrified right until the end. Not unlike his victims I imagine.

  3. Hello fellow A-to-Zer! Also, yuck! Also, that is a lot of killing. What did they think they were buying? Interesting stuff.

  4. Now that was a smart conclusion the police made there, good job catching that guy!

    • It’s seems logical now, but at the time they probably hadn’t heard much about serial killers, so it was good policing!

  5. I suspect robbery wasn’t the real motive and he just enjoyed killing people.

  6. I don’t think it was very fair that his wife was found guilty with no apparent evidence, and that doesn’t sound like a robbery sort of crime.
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