The chilling murder story, which made headlines in Russia last November, began with rescuers getting a call about an elderly man falling into the Moyka River in the historic center of St Petersburg.
The person was retrieved from the freezing waters and rushed to hospital suffering from shock and hypothermia. But the emergency workers were then stunned to discover two severed female arms and a non-lethal gun in a backpack that the rescued man had on him.
The owner of the backpack was swiftly identified as Oleg Sokolov, a famous Napoleonic-era scholar from St Petersburg’s most prestigious university, who has been awarded the Legion of Honor, the highest national order of merit in France, for his studies.
During a search of the 63-year-old’s antiquities-filled apartment, not far from the river, a bag with a human head, an unregistered sawn-off gun with bullets, as well as a bloodied hacksaw, an axe and several knives, were found.
The victim turned out to be 24-year-old postgraduate student Anastasia Yeshchenko, who used to be Sokolov’s lover and protégé. The duo lived together and often appeared at costumed re-enactments of events from the Napoleonic Wars, in which Sokolov usually posed as French Emperor Napoleon himself.