Police released video footage and photographs this week of the mummified remains of 29 women on display in Anatoly Moskvin’s apartment. Authorities in Russia found the collection of women adorned in bright dresses and headscarves, with their faces and hands wrapped in cloth. The videos show the life-size dolls seated on shelves or sofas in small rooms, but no actual bones are apparent in the footage.
The 45-year-old Russian historian was considered the “ultimate expert on cemeteries” in his area according to The Telegraph. His arrest last week followed a long running investigation into the vandalization of several cemetery sites. The gravedigging crimes began in 2010 in Nizhny Novgorod, about 250 miles east of Moscow, but police could not track him down until recently.
Police did not say how he was arrested, but BBC said that Russian newspapers variously reported that Moskvin was caught with a bag of bones. The other version said that detectives grew suspicious when they consulted him, as a cemetery expert, about the grave destruction.
Authorities said that only women between 15 and 25 were selected by Moskvin for his collection, in which he stole the clothes from the graves with the bodies. According to CNN, police also found gravestone plaques, maps of local cemeteries and doll-making instructions in his apartment.
According to Fox News, Moskvin’s fascination with female corpses was apparently established when he was forced to kiss a dead girl at a funeral when he was 12 years old. Moskvin claimed that from 2005 to 2007 he had inspected 752 cemeteries across the region, often traveling about 20 miles a day by foot. According to BBC, he said he spent nights in haystacks or at abandoned farms, obtained water from puddles and had once even slept in a coffin readied for a funeral.
The historian faces charges punishable by up to three months in jail or a year of correctional labor for the desecration of dead bodies and their burial sites.