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Doll maker of the dead

When little Olga Chardymova was just ten years old, she insisted on being able to leave the apartment by herself for the first time. She wanted to show she was a “big girl” by walking to Grandma’s house on her own.

She never made it.

A drug dealer who lived in her building forced her to the top floor and cracked her head open with a metal bar.

It was every parent’s worst nightmare, but things would continue to go downhill for this Russian family.

A year later, the Chardymovas began to notice that something was not quite right with their daughter’s grave. Some of the cherished items they left for their little girl would go missing, and strange stuffed toys would be left in their place. Even worse, regular notes began to appear–letters that addressed their daughter as, “Little Lady,” and which spoke to her as if she were still alive.

Not only that – the distraught parents were positive that Olga’s grave had been disturbed.

They reported their concerns to the police, who were sympathetic, but ultimately, there was nothing that could be done. In the meantime, the mysterious letter writer threatened to destroy Olga’s headstone if it wasn’t to his liking, bending a metal cross and ultimately defacing the headstone with graffiti before demolishing it with an axe.

The stress on the bereaved parents was so great that their marriage almost didn’t survive. The Chardymovas temporarily separated until they were able to heal the rift between them. Unbeknownst to them, other families were going through similar situations. And the police were closing in on the perpetrator.

It took the cops nine years to catch him, and no one was prepared for what they would find.

Anatoly Moskvin was a highly educated historian and self-described genius who can speak thirteen languages. Moskvin also had a very unusual hobby – he made dolls.

On closer inspection, the police discovered that his “dolls” were actually corpses of little girls! He is suspected of robbing over a hundred graves, and had twenty-nine “dolls” in his home at the time of his arrest.

After putting a music box in their chest cavities, Moskvin would mummify the dead girls, dress them in children’s clothes, and decorate their faces with make-up.

Why did he do this?

The doll maker of the dead had several reasons. At one point, he said he was waiting for the time when science would

figure out how to revive them, and at another, he said he wanted to become an expert on mummifying.

The Chardymovas were horrified to discover their daughter’s grave was empty. She had been one of Moskvin’s “dolls” for nine years.

“My girl had been murdered – if anyone deserved to rest in peace, she did, but instead her grave had been robbed,” said Olga’s mother Natalia.

Her daughter has been reburied in an unmarked grave, while Moskvin has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He is expected to spend the rest of his life in a psychiatric hospital.

If you enjoyed this story, you’ll also like the weird disappearance of Elisa Lam and these tales of black-eyed kids.

Some serial killers, most notably Ed Gein, got their start with grave robbing. Do you think Moskvin would have escalated to murder? What’s the creepiest true story you’ve ever heard?

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28 Comments

  1. Shadow

    How grizzly!?!

    Reply
    • JH

      Yes, it’s pretty creepy. The guy actually chastised the parents for leaving their daughters out in the cold. He said, “I brought them in where it’s warm.”

      Reply
  2. Misha

    Man that’s horrible!

    He looks insane enough, and if he’s that clever, he could possibly have come to the point where he convinced himself that he could get away with murdering people.

    Reply
    • JH

      That’s what I’m thinking, Misha. I think it’s a damn good thing they caught him when they did.

      Reply
  3. Denise D Hammond

    That is definitely one of the worst stories I have ever heard. I think I’ll skip reading about the others. Ewww.

    Reply
    • JH

      The other ones aren’t as grisly, Denise. Just eerie and disturbing. 🙂 The Elisa Lam story is a really interesting mystery.

      Reply
  4. Roland Yeomans

    So tragic for the little girl’s family — yet what possessed them to let a ten year old little girl walk alone to her grandmother? There are madmen and madwomen walking beside us, and they wear no signs around their necks labeling them as predators. Sigh. Grim for this holiday season! Have a lovely week.

    Reply
    • JH

      My blog is usually grim, Roland, but I hope in an interesting way. 🙂

      I prefer not to blame the victims in this case. It was a short walk, and the mom thought it would be okay. No one ever expects something horrible to happen. I really feel for that family.

      Reply
  5. Madeline Mora-Summonte

    My mouth literally dropped open as I read this. Shocking and utterly creepy.

    They’re sure he never kidnapped or killed any of the girls, right? Would he have eventually taken that step, I wonder, or would his obsession have changed, gone in a different direction?

    Reply
    • JH

      They were able to identify all of the corpses, and they were girls that had died in other ways. But what if he hadn’t been able to find the right bodies? That’s what concerns me. I’m really glad they caught him.

      Reply
    • JH

      Let’s hope it was his mental illness, but I think he wanted to possess these children. I’m really glad he was caught before he ran out of bodies.

      Reply
  6. Stephanie Faris

    Oh my gosh, that’s horrible! Why are there evil people like this on Earth? I hope there’s a special seat in Hell with his name on it. Just horrible! It reminds me of a Criminal Minds episode where a guy was kidnapping young women and breaking all their bones, then tying them to strings and turning them into puppets. There was something so BEYOND disturbing about that episode!

    Reply
    • JH

      OMG, that’s even worse. That’s incredibly sadistic. I have no idea why these people exist…is it wrong to find them fascinating?

      If I’d known about it earlier in school, I totally would have become a profiler.

      Reply
  7. Patricia Lynne

    Yikes! I think this guy would probably have escalated to murder. It all depended on when his supply of corpses started to run out.

    Reply
    • JH

      I feel the same, Patricia. I’m really glad they caught him before it came to that.

      Reply
  8. Birgit

    OMG!! This is like the movie “House of Wax” but with little girls. This man should be put to death-sorry but if he would ever escape it could be hellish to say the least. I have never heard of this but wow. He was so close to becoming a serial killer. My heart goes out to that family and the others whose children were taken from their graves. Very interesting even if chilling

    Reply
    • JH

      I found it interesting as well. It definitely fits into the “stranger than fiction” category.

      Reply
  9. Kay Mac Donald

    Super little story. You wrote it concisely and still made images in my mind. Nice going.

    Reply
    • JH

      Aw, thanks Kay. Very kind of you to say!

      Hope you’re doing well.

      Reply
  10. Bonnie

    OK. That has got to be the creepiest things I’ve ever heard. The problem is that it’s actually easy to imagine. (Shiver) Dolls look so life like to begin with. Now I’ll be looking at the ‘realistic’ ones wondering if they too are poor dead souls trapped as dolls. Especially those ancient handed down “baby” dolls. Wonder if any of them were an actual baby mummified, by bereaved parents, to keep them in the family? Research?

    Reply
    • JH

      Ooh, creepy idea, Bonnie! Let’s hope not, but you’re right – some of those old dolls did look that way. Good story fodder, if nothing else.

      Reply
  11. Susan Scott

    The creepiest, horriblest story I have ever heard. I will not re-read it. My stomach turned …

    You told it well J.H. A serious dose of the willies …

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Susan! Sorry to turn your stomach, but I guess that means I did my job as a writer?

      Reply
  12. Mary Aalgaard

    It’s kind of like “Silence of the Lambs,” except for he waited for the girls to already be dead. And, yes, what would stop him from committing murder when he’s already so insane.

    (Liked your newsletter. Congrats on the blog syndication!)

    Reply
    • JH

      Aw, thanks Mary! It’s always great to get feedback. Someone unsubscribed, so it’s also nice to have positive feedback. 🙂

      I think he eventually would have resorted to killing once he ran out of graves to rob or it became more difficult for him.

      Reply

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