During his childhood, Anatoly Moskvin’s parents would often take him for walks through graveyards in his hometown of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Today he is a 48-year-old writer/historian and expert on historical cemeteries in his native country. Moskvin has published thirteen books, speaks thirteen languages and has been described by many as a “genius”.
Despite his success in life, he was still living in a flat with his parents, Elvira (78) and Yury (78), in 2011. Moskvin’s parents would stay at their country home each summer leaving their son alone at their flat in Nizhny Novgorod. When the elderly couple returned early in the summer of 2011 they made a grisly discovery; The mummified corpses of 28 little girls aged 3-12 were dressed to look like Russian dolls and arranged throughout the residence in demure poses. Anatoly Moskvin had, for several years, spent his summers digging up corpses; He visited over 700 cemeteries in Russia and estimates he dug up 150 bodies during his active years.
The faces of many girls found in his apartment were wrapped in a light-beige fabric to hide the effects of decomposition. Most were wearing dresses, stockings and knee-length boots or snow suits. Some were dressed as brides and one was made to look like a teddy bear. All were wearing make-up and were found with music boxes inside their rib cages. Anatoly Moskvin took meticulous notes, even recording the girl’s birthdays on the wall in his bedroom where he kept his dolls out of sight from his parents. He hosted birthday parties and tea parties for the girls he mummified, and gave them all new names. One girl whose body became one of Moskvin’s dolls was ten-year-old murder victim, Olga Chardymova. She was killed the first time her parents allowed her to walk by herself to her grandmother’s house after protesting, “I’m ten already. I can go myself.”. Olga took her favorite green bag and blue umbrella and set off for her grandmother’s house which was one block away from her own after her parents had left for work.
Olga never even made it out of her building; A drug addict waiting in the lobby forced Olga back to the top floor where he robbed her of her earrings. The ten-year old girl was hit in the head with a metal bar and killed for trying to escape the thief. Her remains went undiscovered for five months; Olga’s body was eventually found wedged behind pipes in the attic of the building. Olga Chardymova was buried in a cemetery in Nizhiny Novgorod on October 2, 2002. Her parents, Natalia (44) and Igor (46) had built a metal fence around their daughter’s grave and began painting it on May 7, 2003. The following day when they returned to complete their painting, they noticed a wreath on Olga’s grave had been moved and sensed someone had been there. Shortly afterwards, they began finding notes on their daughter’s grave, addressing her as “Little Lady” and congratulating her on special events as though she were still alive. According the Olga’s parents, the anonymous person left notes on every holiday including the first day of school in September and the last day of school in May which would read similar to, “Happy last month of your 6th year at school.”. Each disturbing letter was signed “D.A.” meaning ‘Dorby Angel’ (‘Kind Angel’). Each was hand-delivered by Anatoly Moskvin who would regularly visit the graves of the girls whose remains sat in his bedroom. Each New Year, Olga’s parents would find their daughter’s grave had been decorated and would often discover stuffed animals and other soft toys on Olga’s grave which had been stolen off of other graves in the cemetery. Natalia Chardymova, Olga’s mother told reporters, “We shivered in fear each time we went to the grave, not knowing what to expect.” “Imagine what it was like for us, her grieving parents, reading these notes about our murdered daughter. It was not at all like some sick joke but a spear through our hearts.”. In June of 2003, Natalia and Igor were able to purchase a proper headstone for their daughter’s gravesite. Anatoly Moskvin penned threatening messages on it including, “If you don’t erect a great monument which she deserves, we will dig her body out.”. Moskvin later destroyed the headstone with an axe. The Nizhny Novgorod police were appalled when informed by the grieving parents of what they had been subjected to by the anonymous psychopath. Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do at the time to track down the person but told them, “If you find him, do what you want to this barbarian, we wont object.” Natalia later stated, “If I’d met him at Olga’s grave, Id have killed him with my own hands.”. Notes and toys continued to be left on Olga’s grave and often, a metal cross on the site was found bent. After complaints of similar occurences at the graves of many other young girls in Ninzhny Novgorod, the police decided to open Olga’s grave on October 5, 2012, nearly ten years to the day since she had been buried. Olga’s parents and police found a hole in her coffin through which the girl’s remains had been removed. Investigators later discovered through Anatoly’s notes that Olga Chardymova’s body had in fact been removed in May 2003 when her parents originally suspected an unwanted visitor had been at their child’s gravesite. “You can’t imagine it”, Natalia explained,”That somebody would touch the grave of your child, the most holy place in this world for you. We had been visiting the grave of our child for nine years and we had no idea it was empty. Instead, she was in this beast’s apartment.”. During his hearing, Anatony accusingly told the parents of the young girls he had mummified and kept in his apartment, “You abandoned your girls in the cold- and I brought them home and warmed them up.”. After three years in a psychiatric hospital, Anatony Moskvin was determined to be not mentally well enough to stand trial. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and while he is lucid most of the time, he becomes obsessive when talking about “his girls”. He had tried to adopt a girl of his own but was refused because he is unmarried.
When asked why he exhumed and mummified the bodies of young girls he stated, “I am waiting for science to find a way for these girls to live again… I wanted to be an expert in making mummies… I wanted to communicate with these girls.” and explained how he chose which girls to take home, “I lay on the grave and tried to get in touch with her. I listened to what she said. Often they asked me to take them out for a walk.”. Anatoly’s crimes were in no way sexually motivated and police claim, “He loathes sex and thought it was disgusting.”. Anatoly was raped as a child and claims his interest in necrology began when he was forced to kiss the face of an 11-year-old girl at her funeral. Psychiatrists believe there is little chance Anatoly will ever be rehabilitated and released from the psychiatric institute where he will remain for the foreseeable future. The stress of Olga’s death and the disturbance of her remains caused Natalia and Igor Chardymova to separate for fourteen months. Natalia explained the reason for their separation, “I just could not live in the block where my daughter was murdered. And Igor did not want to sell the flat, he would go into Olga’s room and stare at her things. Finally, I left and went to live with my mother.”.
The couple now have a son, Alexei, who they say has restored their faith in life. The couple moved to a new home, but still have a daily reminder of their daughter’s unfortunate end and the torment they suffered for nine years; From the kitchen window, the couple can see the psychiatric institute where Anatoly Moskvin still resides. Natalia and Igor fear he will one day convince his doctors he is cured and will be released.
The couple also question Moskvin’s parents’ knowledge of their son’s grave robbing tendencies, unsure how anyone could overlook the presence of 28 corpses in their home. Anatoly Moskvin’s mother, Elvira maintains, “We saw these dolls but we did not suspect there were dead bodies inside. We thought it was his hobby to make such big dolls and did not see anything wrong with it.”. Natalia and Igor chose to never see the “doll” Anatoly Moskvin created with their daughter’s remains. Police advised the couple against it, “The sight was too grotesque, they said. But I have seen the pictures of some of the other girls. I still find it hard to grasp the scale of his sickening work but for nine years he was living with my mummified daughter in his bedroom. I had her for ten years, he had her for nine.”.
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