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291: Case 247: Nina Puganova, Irina Trasyn & Anastasia Mikhailova

291: Case 247: Nina Puganova, Irina Trasyn & Anastasia Mikhailova

Sat, 20 May 2023 08:01

In the summer of 1980, Theodosius Glukharev received a series of harrowing deliveries to his home in Kishinev, Soviet Moldova. The contents ultimately unravelled the murders of three women – Nina Puganova, Irina Trasyn & Anastasia Mikhailova...


Narration – Anonymous Host
Research & writing – Holly Boyd
Creative direction – Milly Raso
Production and music – Mike Migas
Music – Andrew D.B. Joslyn

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In Bakersfield, California in 1991, two boys stumbled upon a grizzly discovery, the murdered body of a young woman. In the shadows is the new podcast from Case File Presents, which follows the ensuing 32-year-old deal to uncover those responsible for the crime and to bring them to justice. The mystery riveted the desert town for years. Police immediately zeroed in on the victim's long-time boyfriend, a beloved star athlete. But popular opinion was divided. Despite national attention and several trials, a conviction remained elusive, and many thought the case would never be solved. That is, until this podcast turned over a new leaf. During the investigation of Vinn the Shadows, several individuals revealed shocking information previously unknown to authorities. Ultimately, this new insight turned everything on its head, and will bring you one step closer to deciding who's responsible for the murder. Previously only available with a 1-D-R-Plus subscription, all seven episodes of Vinn the Shadows are now available for free wherever you get your podcasts, or you can listen ad-free on 1-D-R-Plus. Stay tuned to hear the trailer at the end of today's episode. Our episodes deal with serious and often distressing incidents. If you feel at any time you need support, please contact your local crisis centre. For suggested phone numbers for confidential support, please see the show notes for this episode on your app, or on our website. This episode was originally released on Casefile's Patreon, Apple Premium and Spotify Premium feeds as an early bonus for our paid subscribers. These episodes are designed to be slightly shorter, allowing us to cover a broader range of cases. To receive these episodes early and ad-free, you can support Casefile on your preferred platform. As it neared 6 o'clock on an autumn morning in 1980, the Adosius Glucara was jolted awake by the sound of his apartment's doorbell. He rose from bed and headed to the door. No one was there. He poked his head into the hallway, only to find the area empty and quiet. The Adosius looked down and noticed a dark leather briefcase on the ground in front of him. Curious, the Adosius salated on its side, unclasped its latches and opened it up. Paged inside and wrapped in cloth was the head of a woman. The Adosius staggered back inside his apartment and immediately phoned the police. Officers arrived at the large, nine-story building where the Adosius lived with his wife and young daughter. Their apartment was just south of Kishinyev, the Russian named capital of Moldova, which at the time was part of the Soviet Union. The officers inspected the briefcase that had been left at the Adosius' door. The decapitated head belonged to a brown-haired woman whose eyes had been gouged out. The Adosius was adamant that he didn't recognise the woman and there was nothing else inside the briefcase that hinted at her identity. However, there was a handwritten note. Addressed to the Adosius and scrawled in block capital letters, the note read, have you seen the gift? This is an example for you. Ready 10,000 rubles for your daughter will also be headless. In the evening you will come to the train station and to bring money. Extortion was rare in Soviet Moldova, let alone in such a brutal form. At the time, 10,000 rubles was a large amount of money, the equivalent of around $50,000 US dollars in today's currency. The Adosius, who worked as a truck driver for a local brewery, was adamant that he didn't have access to that kind of money. Unable to produce the large ransom in such a short amount of time, it was impossible for him to meet the killer's demands. Given that the killer knew where the Adosius lived and that he had a daughter, it was clear that they knew the Adosius in some capacity. Yet, the Adosius couldn't think of anyone who would carry out such a gruesome act. Suspicious that he was hiding something, police covertly surveilled the Adosius the following day. They discreetly tailed his truck as he drove from the brewery and onto the streets of Kishinyev, where he eventually parked and entered a restaurant. It was an expensive establishment. The kind of place the affluent might dynaid only once or twice a year for special occasions. The Adosius didn't stay long, certainly not enough time for him to eat. He soon returned to his truck and drove off. As the surveillance continued, the Adosius started behaving erratically. It seemed he realized that he was being followed. He took several abrupt turns and doubled back on his route, before speeding through a red light. Police managed to catch up with him a little while later, by which point the Adosius had resumed going about his business. He entered a bakery and emerged with a cake in hand. He then walked to a nearby apartment building which was considered one of Kishinyev's most prestigious addresses. The Adosius disappeared inside for some time, before reappearing without the cake. Later that day, he purchased a bouquet of flowers and visited another high-end apartment building on an adjacent street. Once again, he stayed inside briefly before exiting empty-handed. He then made his way home. He admitted to driving erratically after realizing he was being pursued, but explained this was because he thought he was being trailed by the killer. Police put it to the Adosius that his job as a truck driver was really just a front for some kind of black market trading. He denied being involved in anything illegal, but eventually confessed that his visits to the two apartments were for clandestine meetings. The Adosius had been calling in on his girlfriends. Neither of his girlfriends knew about the other, nor were they aware that the Adosius was married with a child. Although he wasn't a particularly remarkable law-wealthy man, the Adosius was a serial womanizer who often bragged to his friends about his extra marital affairs. Investigators were satisfied that the Adosius wasn't part of any underworld scheming, but had been targeted for some other specific reason. They considered the possibility that the severed head might have belonged to one of his girlfriends. Perhaps the woman's husband had found out about the affair and taken revenge. The Adosius claimed that his girlfriends were both alive and well, and it was quickly confirmed that he was telling the truth. Both of his girlfriends attended the police station for questioning, but neither recognized the face of the woman from the briefcase. This sent investigators back to square one. Unable to figure out why the Adosius was being extorted, they worked to identify the victim. Perhaps if they knew who she was, her connection to the Adosius would become clear. After exhausting all other avenues, investigators sought permission from their country's leadership to employ a tactic that had never been used in the Soviet Union before. They asked to show a photograph of the woman's head on national television in the hope that someone would recognize her face. Their request was granted. With as much care as possible, the woman's face was cleaned to be presentable to the public. Her hair was neatly combed down and pinned behind her head. Glass fears were inserted into her empty eye sockets and her eyelids were closed over them. A photograph was taken and broadcast on national television across Soviet Moldova. Although a white scarf tied beneath her chin concealed her severed neck, it was obvious to most that she was deceased. That night, seven-year-old Victor Thrasim sat in front of his family's television set, eyes glued to a rerun of a popular Soviet musical miniseries, Dartanjan and the three musketeers. Victor lived with his mother and ailing grandmother in an apartment in Kishinev. His grandmother was content to let Victor enjoy the swashbuckling action on screen, as the young boy had recently been overcome with anxiety and the program provided a much needed distraction. A few nights earlier, Victor's mother, Irina, had left home to catch up with a friend. She said that she would only be gone for 30 minutes, but by the time Victor awoke the next morning, she still hadn't returned. Victor took himself to school and a later made dinner for himself and his grandmother. He kept this up all the while bombarding his grandmother with questions about his mother's whereabouts. But she couldn't give him any answers. Victor's concerns for Irina grew until he parked himself in front of the television one night for a mental reprieve. All of a sudden, Dartanjan and the three musketeers was interrupted by a special news bulletin. A photograph of a woman appeared on screen. Victor immediately recognized the woman as his mother, Irina. He was confused as to why she was on television, but excited that he would finally see her again. He wrote down that number on the screen and called it first thing the following morning. Investigators could now identify the mutilated woman as Irina Trasun, but they still had no idea why she had been targeted. The Adosius Glukarev claimed he didn't know Irina and there was no evidence to suggest the pair had ever crossed paths. As investigators tried to determine why Irina was murdered as part of an extortion plot against a stranger, they received a phone call. Another package had just arrived at The Adosius' front door. The package wasn't in a briefcase this time, but wrapped in paper. Again, it was accompanied by a handwritten note addressed to The Adosius in the same block capital letters as the first. This one read, You still don't want to pay, then kiss a woman's hand. Inside the package was the severed hand of a woman. Forensic analysis confirmed it did not belong to Irina Trasun. A second woman had been killed and once again the police were left with no clues as to this victim's identity. The note continued, In three days you will bring the money to the train station. Otherwise we will chop your daughter to pieces. The note hadn't referred to The Adosius' daughter by her name, Oksana, but this was the second direct threat against her. Two days later, Oksana was making her way home from school. Just as she reached the entrance to her family's apartment block, a man approached and offered her some candy. All of a sudden, two other men who had been a short distance behind Oksana, left into action. They ran up to the man, grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground. The pair were undercover police officers tasked with protecting Oksana. The young girl shouted at the police officers, Let uncle Sasha go, he's good. Realising the man was known to Oksana, the officers backed off. While he wasn't technically her uncle, he was a close friend of her family. As a precaution, the police thoroughly looked into Uncle Sasha. They discovered that he worked at the local confectionery factory, which explained why he had candy on hand. A married father, Uncle Sasha had received a government award for his hard work and commitment to the Soviet Union. With no criminal record or anything else to highlight him as dangerous, he was ruled out as being the killer who was extorting their dosius. Case file will be back shortly. Thank you for supporting us by listening to this episode's sponsors. Thank you for listening to this episode's ads. By supporting our sponsors, you support Case file to continue to deliver quality content. Unable to pin down a suspect, police realised that theo dosius would have to meet the killer's demands in order to flush him out. Every night after receiving the sub-adhaned, theo dosius presented himself at the Kishinyev train station. He carried a briefcase containing 10,000 rubles. The money had been hastily gathered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs to facilitate the requested handover. Dozens of undercover police officers inconspicuously milled about the station, keeping a close eye on anyone who moved close to theo dosius. Given the second ransom ladder had contained the pronion we, police were mindful that multiple perpetrators could be involved and could also be watching the situation unfold. Suddenly, a lone man approached theo dosius. The officers observed intently waiting to make their move. The man was holding a cigarette and he asked theo dosius for a light. He then continued on his way. He was not the man they were expecting. Several hours passed until it became abundantly clear the exchange wasn't going to take place. Either the killer never showed up, or they had realised it was a setup. Leaving they were dealing with our quote, bloodthirsty maniac, police had to act quickly to prevent more women from being murdered and mutilated. Wild rumours were spreading, with some claiming the mutilations were the act of necromancer sorcerers who were digging up graves. Others feared that an unidentified serial killer known as Metal Fang had arrived in Kishinyev to continue his spree. Some turned their suspicions towards theo dosius Glukarev himself. Word was circulating that he had recently cut ties with the criminal group, who were now using the extortions as a method of intimidation. With all these leads and more having reached dead ends, investigators revisited the evidence, beginning with the two extortion letters. Thio dosius was niggling at one particular investigator. As he agonised over each word of the letters, the realisation suddenly dawned. In both notes the author had referred to theo dosius by his nickname, Fedos. Upon further questioning, Thio dosius revealed that he didn't like his full name, and would generally ask colleagues and associates to call him Fedos for short. In turn, close friends and family took to calling him Fedos. Realising the killer was amongst theo dosius's immediate circle, investigators narrowed down the list of suspects until just one person remained. A few years earlier, Dmitry Kuzinsef was enjoying his wedding reception when he realised his new wife wasn't by his side. He searched the venue and eventually found her in a compromising position with another man. The man was Dmitry's second cousin, theo dosius Glukarev. In rage, Dmitry chased theo dosius with a knife threatening to kill him. The guests disarmed Dmitry and tied him down before he could inflict any injuries. As Thio dosius was led from the party, Dmitry shouted that he would find him and cut him. Investigators explored Dmitry's background and discovered that he was already on the radar of the Soviet financial police, having been suspected of the theft and illegal sale of rare Soviet property. He also worked as a dining car manager for Soviet Railways, which was significant given the killer had named the Kishinyev train station as the extortion money dropside. Under cover officers boarded Dmitry's train in order to confront him. One disguised as a railway inspector spotted Dmitry and called him by name. Sensing he was in trouble, Dmitry jumped from the train and ran. The chase was short-lived as Dmitry tripped over the tracks and was swiftly apprehended. Dmitry denied any wrongdoing, but when he learned he was under suspicion for murder and extortion, he quickly confessed to the crimes against Soviet property. He vehemently denied having anything to do with the murders. With a little bit more digging, police were able to verify that Dmitry was telling them the truth. He was a criminal, but he was not the killer they were looking for. The sun had just set, as university student Olga Labadeva stood alone in Kishinyev's central park, waiting for her date. Several months prior, Olga had responded to a personal ad in the local newspaper and had been corresponding with the man ever since. This was the first time they were going to meet in person. Olga's dates soon approached, carrying a bouquet of flowers. He handed them to her and immediately apologized, saying he couldn't stay for their date as some important business had just come up. He then turned around and hurried away. She used, Olga decided to head home. As she walked through the park along a tree-lined path, she heard someone approaching from behind. Olga quickened her pace. So did the person behind her. Suddenly, Olga was jerked backwards and thrown to the ground. Olga's man stood over her before pulling her into some bushes nearby. He wrapped her hand around Olga's neck and squeezed, using his other hand to hold up a knife. As Olga fought for her life, the contents of her bags spilled onto the ground. She grabbed at the nearest item, her hairbrush, and de-jemmed it as hard as she could into the man's groin. She released his grip, dropped his knife, and gripped his crotch as he cooled over in pain. Olga scrambled to her feet. As she rushed back onto the footpath, her attacker yelled out, I will catch up with you, creature, and I will cut you into pieces. Olga ran as fast as she could, right into the path of someone who had slipped away from a birthday party early to head home. They took her to the police station, where the officer on duty was intrigued to learn that Olga's attacker had threatened to cut her into pieces. Police across the city had been briefed about the unidentified killer who had been sending mutilated remains to Theodosius Glukarev. The officer was aware that in one of the notes, the perpetrator had used the phrase, we will chop your daughter to pieces. Believing Olga had survived an encounter with the killer, hundreds of police officers descended on Kysinjev's central park to scour the area for clues. They soon came upon a plot of freshly disturbed earth. The area was dug up, revealing a shallow grave containing the body of a young woman. Her shirt was torn open, and her trousers and underwear were pulled below her knees. There were multiple stub wounds to her chest and around her genitals. Most significantly, her head was missing. Police had just uncovered the body of Arena Thrasen. Now they were absolutely certain that the same man who attacked Olga Labadeva had killed Arena, and that he had used the expansive parklands as he's hunting ground. Olga struggled to recall much about her ordeal, as it was dark and happened quickly, but something about her assailant seemed familiar. She was certain it was the same man she had met for a date 30 minutes earlier. They were explained that she had been corresponding with this man for some time. Investigators asked if she had kept any of the letters. Lucky for them, she had kept them all. Each of the letters were handwritten and had been signed off with the sender's name, Alexander's Grinic. The police were stunned. They knew Scrinic. Across most Eastern European countries, the name Alexander is commonly shortened to Sasha. Alexander's Grinic was Uncle Sasha, the man who had approached Theodosius' daughter with candy weeks earlier. A background check of Scrinic had ruled him out as a suspect, but now investigators were certain he was the killer they'd been looking for. They just needed to find some compelling evidence to prove it. No viable forensics had been found on Arena Thrasen's head or body, nor on the unidentified severed hand left at Theodosius' door. This just left the extortion notes and the letters to Olga. A handwriting expert was brought in, but when he looked at the samples, he shrugged. The extortion notes had been printed in block capitals, whereas the letters were in Scrinic's cursive handwriting. It wasn't possible to conclusively compare the two. Meanwhile, Alexander's Scrinic was called to attend the Military Registration and In-Lisman Office. At 27 years of age, Scrinic was still subject to Soviet conscription until his next birthday. He arrived promptly at the Military Office and was shown into an adjacent room. He, along with about 20 other conscripts, filled in the necessary paperwork. In other words, they were told that a military representative would be in touch soon. Alexander's Scrinic then left the building. Unbeknownst to Scrinic, the entire registration process was a set up by police as a way to obtain his handwriting. The call, the staff, and the other conscripts had all been staged. The military registration papers were required to be completed in block capital letters. As soon as Scrinic left, the registration papers were given to the handwriting expert who was waiting behind the scenes. Within half an hour, the expert unequivocally concluded that the block letters in Scrinic's registration form were an exact match to those in the two extortion notes sent that they were not sent to the police. Case file will be back shortly. Thank you for supporting us by listening to this episode's sponsors. Thank you for listening to this episode's ads. By supporting our sponsors, you support Case file to continue to deliver quality content. That evening, police arrived at Alexander's Scrinic's apartment, only to be told by Scrinic's wife that her husband had just left to see a movie. A contingent of planeclothes, police officers quickly descended on the patriarch's cinema in central Kishinyev. The film that was about to be shown was a Soviet disaster film called Aircrew, which depicted the story of a plane full of passengers trying to take off during an earthquake. Aircrew had debuted earlier in 1980, but due to its popularity, it was being re-screened to a sold-out audience. Police searched for Scrinic amongst the throng of cinema goers milling outside the building and inside the foyer waiting for the movie to start. Eventually, they spotted Scrinic. He was approaching the cinema accompanied by a young woman. One quick thinking detective approached the couple. He explained that the film was sold out, but he had two tickets he was willing to sell. Scrinic was interested. The detective suggested that they walk around the side of the building where it was much quieter in order to make the exchange. Scrinic and the young woman happily accompanied the detective. Once they were away from the crowd, other officers converged on Scrinic and placed him under arrest. At the police station, Alexander Scrinic remained indignant. He denied having done anything wrong and pointed to his government labour award and membership of the Soviet Communist Party as proof of his good character and innocence. However, once investigators revealed the rules at the enlistment office and the handwriting analysis evidence they had against him, Scrinic abandoned his charade. Scrinic then made a surprise confession. Arena Thrasen was not his first murder victim. Several years earlier in the mid 1970s, he had been living and working in Yakutia, a sparsely populated Soviet region in the Far East of Russia. There, Scrinic met and murdered a flight attendant named Nina Puganova. After killing Nina, Scrinic removed her breasts and genitals before dumping her body. The remains were later discovered, however authorities at the time were unable to solve Nina's murder. Scrinic disclosed that he had stabbed Arena Thrasen to death after meeting her for ice cream at the park where her body was later found. She decapitated Arena Post-Mortem, kept her head before burying her body in a shallow grave. Scrinic's third and final victim was a woman named Anastasia Mikhailova. Like Arena before her, Scrinic had met Anastasia for ice cream before stabbing her to death and demutulating her body. This time, Scrinic had kept Anastasia's severed hand as a souvenir. Having already discovered Arena's headless body, police probed Scrinic for the whereabouts of Anastasia's remains. Scrinic said that Anastasia was buried in a different park and offered to take them to the exact location. The following day, he escorted investigators to an area of woodland. He pointed to the exact location where officers should start digging. Sure enough, about a foot below the surface, police uncovered the remains of Anastasia Mikhailova, who was missing a hand. Investigators had everything they needed from Alexander Scrinic, a full confession to the murders and to Anastasia's remains. What they now wanted was Scrinic's motive for these brutal slangs. Scrinic explained that about a year into his marriage, after his son was born, he was dissatisfied with his life. Specifically, Scrinic wanted more sex. He placed a personal ad in the local newspaper with the intention of attracting a woman who would be willing to sleep with him. Eventually, Scrinic met up with a woman who responded to his ad and the two had sex. As a result, Scrinic contracted a venereal disease. This instigated Scrinic's hatred towards women, who he now blamed for his unhappy marriage and the lack of sex to which he felt entitled. Scrinic appointed himself as a quote, orderly of nature, and decided that it was his calling to destroy women. As to why he extorted his friend Theodosius Glukarev, Scrinic simply explained that he was jealous of Theodosius, who boasted of his active sex life and multiple extramarital affairs. His intention was to quote, let this womanize a shake with fear and at the same time fork out. A few months after his arrest, Alexander Scrinic stood trial for the murders of Nina Puganova, Arena Trasem and Anastasia Mikhailova. At the start of his testimony, he boasted that anyone with a weak disposition should leave the room. Scrinic then recited his crimes without any hint of remorse. He told the court that he enjoyed murdering the three women and that if he hadn't been caught, he would still be killing. The three judges of the Supreme Court found Scrinic guilty of all charges and sentenced him to death. In 1981, Alexander Scrinic attended his date with the firing squad. On a chilly night in 1991, a group of teenagers gathered in their usual hangout, a barren stretch of desert next to a busy highway near Baker's Field, California. A dismal spot littered with trash and shell casings. By nightfall, it turned into a sort of leathers lane where high school kids drank and smoked. When two boys left their group and headed into the darkness, they came upon a horrific scene. The body of a young woman murdered just hours before. She had no enemies. Besides girls at school, teenage stuff, not any kind of trouble that someone would murder her. This 1991 murder made news headlines for years as it shocked and divided a quiet working-class community. Of course, I knew about Maria's case. Everyone in Baker's Field knows about Maria's case. People would judge. They would glue to their TV sets and read the paper every day. There was a lot of speculation in Oarsko that maybe he was not the all-around athlete that people thought he might be. When he lied about being her boyfriend, I feel like he had something to do with it. Justice took its course in a twisted and controversial case that captivated many. But what if the real killer were yet to be discovered? Because he warned me that he told me that I would tell the detective that he was here. When he wasn't really here, if you asked the sheriff's department and if you asked the prosecutor's office, they would say, yeah, we solved it. It's just unfortunate how things ended up. In this series, we will hear brand new clues in every people that have never spoken publicly before and discover family secrets that shed light on who may have killed Maria Rodriguez and why. I kind of want all of our families hidden secrets and all of the dark past. I want it to come out to light. I'm Octavia McKenry for Case Fall Presents, and this is In the Shadows, the story of Maria Rodriguez.