Russian woman held over murders of 20 pensioners: police

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Police arrested a suspected female serial killer for the murders of 20 pensioners in Western Siberia whose trust she allegedly won by doing household chores for them, news reports Tuesday.

A 39-year-old woman was detained Monday during an investigation into 20 murders of female pensioners over the past seven years, Sverdlovsk police spokesman Valery Gorelykh said in a ITAR-TASS news agency report.

The killer offered to help elderly victims with household tasks to earn their trust and entry to their homes, Gorelykh said. "She then clubbed the victims with blows to the head and stole their money and valuables."

"A total of around 20 murders were reported in several towns of the region that followed a similar criminal pattern," Gorelykh said. "In the opinion of the police officers, they were carried out with mercenary motives."

The suspect has two daughters, one of whom lives with her, while the other is in a state children's home, police said.

In 2007 Russia was shocked by the trial of "chessboard killer" Alexander Pichushkin, who boasted that murdering 48 people made him feel like a god.

Pichushkin, who had aimed to kill one person for each of the 64 squares on a chessboard, was sentenced to life in prison and psychiatric treatment.

© 2010 AFP

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