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|Gennady Modestovich Mikhasevich|
Vitebsk Oblast, Byelorussian SSR, Soviet Union
|Victims||36 confirmed; confessed to 43, probably 55+|
Span of killings
|Country||Byelorussian SSR, Soviet Union|
Gennady Modestovich Mikhasevich (Belarusian: Генадзь Мадэставіч Міхасевіч) was a Soviet serial killer. He murdered 36 women during the period from 1971 to 1985 in Vitebsk, Polotsk and the rural areas in the nearby regions of the Byelorussian SSR.
Gennady Mikhasevich was born in the village of Ist (Vitebsk Oblast) in 1948, and served in the army. He committed his first murder on 14 May 1971. He himself later explained that the killing spree started after he had returned from the army only to find out that his girlfriend had left him and got married in the meantime. On the night of 14 May 1971, he was on his way from Vitebsk to Polotsk. It was late so he could not catch a bus to Polotsk where his parents lived. Mikhasevich reported he was feeling despondent because of the breakup with his girlfriend and had prepared a loop to hang himself. However, he accidentally met a young woman on the road. He decided to kill her, venting his anger on her. He murdered again in October, 1971, and strangled 2 other women in 1972, near Vitebsk. Mikhasevich graduated from a technical school in Vitebsk in 1973 and returned to Ist, starting to work in a sovkhoz. He got married in 1976. In the meantime, the murders went on.
Many of his murders coincided with rape. He either strangled or smothered his victims, either assaulting them in solitary locations or (during later years) after having lured them into his own car (he possessed a red Zaporozhets) or the machines of his workplace (he later had a job in machine repair service). Mikhasevich did not carry weapons, instead he used improvised means (e.g. a cord made of rye). Besides killing, he robbed his victims of money and valuable items (that he would sometimes give to his wife as a gift), and sometimes even of household items like scissors.
In outward appearance, Gennady Mikhasevich was a good family man, a teetotaller, had two children, was a conscientious worker; he was also member of the Communist Party (also served as a local party functionary) and of Voluntary People's Druzhina.
The investigation started to advance in the 1980s, as the young investigator Nikolay Ignatovich firmly stood up for the idea that all the killings of females near motorways in the region were committed by one person, a serial killer, not separate murderers, as the investigators had conveniently presumed. The police also suspected that the serial killer was using a red Zaporozhets; as they started checking all the people of the Oblast, who possessed such a car, Mikhasevich as a druzhinnik participated in these actions, in a way searching for himself. This also enabled him to learn of the steps the investigators were taking beforehand. The year 1985 was especially 'prolific' for the murderer: he killed 12 women in this year alone.
Eventually, Mikhasevich, who was now getting concerned, made a fatal mistake: in order to derail the investigation, he sent an anonymous letter to the local newspaper on behalf of an imaginary underground organization 'Patriots of Vitebsk', supposedly calling on his fellow militants to intensify their struggle of killing communists and lewd women. When he left a similar hand-written note next to his new victim, again signed on behalf of 'Patriots of Vitebsk', the investigators started to ascertain the handwritings of the male residents of the Oblast. Having checked 556,000 samples, the experts detected that the sample with the handwriting of Gennady Modestovich Mikhasevich had striking resemblance with the handwriting on the murderer's notes. Further investigation revealed other evidence, convincing them of Mikhasevich's guilt.
He was finally arrested in December 1985, after initial denial, he confessed and was sentenced to death and executed in 1987. His case became notorious in the USSR (“The Vitebsk Case” (“Витебское дело”)), as it revealed both the incompetence of the police and the corruption of the law enforcement agencies: by the time Mikhasevich was finally arrested, 14 people had already been convicted for the crimes Mikhasevich committed, the suspects had been often forced to confess by torture, and a couple of them had been sentenced to death and executed for the crimes they did not commit.