‘Mad genius’ grave-robber used girls’ bodies as ‘dolls’ to decorate his home

A “mad genius” who kept a bizarre house of horrors decorated with the bodies of 26 little girls that he had dug up and mummified has been denied a bid for freedom.

Russian historian Anatoly Moskvin had requested release from a secure mental institution so that he could get married.

Moskvin, 55, from the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod, was arrested in November 2011 after it emerged he had dug up corpses of numerous girls aged between three and 12.

Video released by police at the time showed the bodies seated on shelves and sofas all over the house in cluttered rooms full of academic books and papers.

Moskvin was charged under Article 244 of Russia's penal code – which covers the desecration of graves and dead bodies.

The charge can carry a sentence of up to five years in prison. But instead of being prosecuted, Moskvin was ruled mentally unfit to stand trial and sent to a psychiatric clinic.

In an interview after his arrest, Moskvin said he felt "great sympathy" for the dead children and believed that they could be brought back to life by either science or black magic.

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Moskvin researched mummification techniques and used salt to dry the corpses out so he could display them in his home.

He told prosecutors that he regretted that he never had children of his own – and at one point he attempted to adopt a young girl but his application was blocked due to his low income.

Moskvin said there was no sexual element to his "doll" collection dolls and that he considered them to be his children.

He chatted to the corpses, sang songs to them, watched cartoons with them, and even held birthday parties for them.

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Now lawyers for Moskvin say that after nine years of treatment, he is now well enough to become an outpatient, and that he wants to move to Moscow and get married.

They say he also aims to write a book and get a job as a language teacher – taking advantage of the fact that he speaks 13 languages.

Before his arrest, it was revealed that he was a virgin and had never had a girlfriend, but apparently he has since struck up a friendship with a 30-year-old language student.

However, it was explained in Leninsky District Court heard that the friendship could not progress to marriage until he was made an outpatient.

Investigators who were alerted to his horrific collection of bodies of dead little girls that he had dressed up like dolls and positioned around his home were tipped off after his parents made a visit when they were returning from a holiday and spotted the mummies.

He was described as a "mad genius" during court proceedings. It was decided that he was unfit to stand trial based on a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and in May 2012 he was sent to a psychiatric clinic instead.

Moskvin's macabre collection included detailed notes on each of the tiny bodies, and he had also done online research on the bizarre subject of making mummified dolls out of human remains.

He had claimed that his fascination with dead bodies dated back to an incident when he was a child where he had been forced by an adult to kiss the head of a dead 11-year-old girl in a coffin at her funeral.

He wrote that "an adult pushed my face down to the waxy forehead of the girl in an embroidered cap, and there was nothing I could do but kiss her as ordered".

Though 26 bodies were found in his home at the time of his arrest, it is believed he had dug up an astonishing 150 graves before he was finally apprehended.

Before his arrest, Moskvin had been well-known in academic circles for his knowledge of European history, with a special focus on burial rites, as well as his language skills.

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