Vladimir was born by medical nurse Alexandra Samoshkina the Ukrainian town of Berdyansk. His father is unknown  When he was three years old, Vladimir's mother married a North Ossetian military engineer, Anatoly Khodov, and moved to Elkhotovo, 40 km from Beslan, where she worked in the maternity ward of a hospital. Anatoly adopted Vladimir and one year later, in 1980, a second son, Borik (or Boris in Russian), was born.
After separating from her husband, Alexandra moved with her sons to Beslan. According to some sources both sons attended the Beslan School Number One that was later the subject of the attack (Vladimir was known as Samoshkin there). Other sources do not confirm this information. After both sons had finished primary school, Alexandra, Vladimir and Borik returned to Elkhotovo, and she resumed her career in the hospital.
In 1996 Borik was sentenced to eight years imprisonment in Maykop for murder, following a stabbing incident in the village. While in prison, he converted to Islam. On one of his visits to his brother in Maykop, Vladimir was accused of a rape, and left Russia to live with his grandfather in Berdyansk Two years later, Vladimir, who was now exclusively known as Khodov, started to frequently return to Elkhotovo to live with his mother and adoptive father Anatoly, and to visit the local mosque.
According to police records made public after the Beslan incident, after his return from Ukraine, Vladimir got involved in Islam in Adygea, went to a madrassa in Cherkessia and even joined the Chechen insurgence (serving mostly as a cook). He served under Ruslan Gelayev and later Iles Gorchikhanov. Vladimir again moved out at the end of 2002, asking his parents to care for his cat Dima while he was away.
In 2003, Borik was released from prison a year before his sentence was completed. Borik returned to Elkhotovo, and on July 1 he abducted Sveta Gabisova, a girl he had known earlier, claiming he was in love and wanted to marry her, despite her protests. Relatives rescued Sveta, and her brother Iriston visited Borik to complain about his behaviour - during the resulting fight, Borik was shot and killed. Vladimir returned for the funeral on July 22, but interrupted the funeral to take the body away for a Muslim burial. Vladimir's disturbance caught the attention of the authorities, and after hiding in a local cleric's basement, he was arrested. Despite being a wanted criminal, Vladimir was released by the police shortly after. Shamil Basayev has claimed that this was when Vladimir was given the choice of prison or helping to infiltrate the Chechen warlord's movement.
At some point in 2003, sources differ whether Anatoly died, or left Aleksandra.
According to police records, Vladimir had already joined the "Taliban" training camp in Galashki (Ingushetia), and returned to it after his release. On February 3, 2004 an exploding 122mm artillery shell in Vladikavkaz killed an army cadet and a nearby female. By February 21 Vladimir had been declared the prime suspect, after being caught on videotape.
In Elkhotovo, an arsenal of weapons was found at the home of another convert and Vladimir's picture and code name (Abdullah) appeared on the FSB "Wanted" Internet Pages. A failed (and victimless) bomb attack on the Moscow to Vladikavkaz train near the Elkhotovo railway station in May 2004 was also blamed on Vladimir Khodov.
On the second day of the Beslan siege, Vladimir reportedly stopped one of the other hostage-takers from killing Larisa Kudzieva, and offered to free her two children if she would wear an explosive belt and hijab, an offer which she refused.
During the siege, authorities got Aleksandra to phone her son, hoping she could convince him to let the children go free.
After the attack
- Vladimir Hodov collection of materials by Lenta.ru (Russian)
- Hunting the Terrorist through His Mother - Kommersant Moscow
- “We got to Beslan thanks to a corridor guaranteed by the Russian secret services”
- "Suspect behind Feb 3 bombing in Vladikavkaz named". Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- (Russian) В Северной Осетии взорван поезд Москва-Владикавказ
- This Won't Be Another Nord-Ost - Kommersant Moscow
- Украина Криминальная - ПОЗЫВНОЙ "AБДУЛЛА”
- "Beslan – The Search for the Truth Goes On". Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- "Hunting the Terrorist through His Mother". Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- Beslan terrorist mother evicted from her home - family history in Berdyansk
- "In fact, his last name is not Khodov, but Samoshkin." Mention of the rape charge
- Outraged at the Orthodox Christian funeral, Vladimir carried away the corpse. Mention of Vladikavkaz
- Basayev's words cause controversy
- (Russian)Weapons found at Elkhotovo, from Moskovsky Komsomolets
- (Russian)Wild rumours after the siege