Tamara Samsonova, a 68-year-old grandmother beheaded, dismembered and then ate parts of her victims in St. Petersburg.
Dubbed the “Granny Ripper” and “Baba Yaga” by the Russian press, Tamara recorded details of killing and cannibalism in a diary, which she wrote in Russian, English and German. According to the diary entries, she removed her victims’ lungs and ate them.
Early life of Tamara Samsonova
Tamara Samsonova was born on April 25, 1947, in the city of Uzhur, now part of the Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia. After graduating from high school, she arrived in Moscow and entered the Moscow State Linguistic University. After graduating, she moved to St. Petersburg, where she married Alexei Samsonov. In 1971, she and her husband settled in the newly built panel house number 4 on Dimitrov Street.
For some time she worked for the Intourist travel agency, in particular, in the Grand Hotel Europe. The amount of work experience Samsonova gathered at the time of her retirement was 16 years.
In 2000, Tamara’s husband disappeared. She appealed to the police, but subsequent searches yielded nothing. Fifteen years later, in April 2015, she turned towards the authorities again, this time to the investigative unit of the Frunzensky District in St. Petersburg, giving a statement about her spouse’s disappearance.
Tamara Samsonova’ crimes
Tamara’s victims include neighbours and some of her former tenants, including her disappeared husband, who has never been found.
After her husband’s disappearance, Tamara began renting out a room in her apartment. According to investigators, on September 6, 2003, during a quarrel, she killed her tenant. He was a 44-year-old resident from Norilsk. She then dismembered his corpse and disposed of it on the street.
In March 2015, Tamara met 79-year-old Valentina Nikolaevna Ulanova who also lived on Dimitrov Street. A friend of the two asked Ulanova to shelter Samsonova for a time due to the fact that Tamara’s apartment was being renovated, to which Ulanova agreed.
Tamara lived in Ulanova’s apartment for several months, helping with the housework. She began to like living in the apartment, wanting to stay there for longer and refusing to move out. Over time the relationship between the two deteriorated, and Ulanova eventually asked Tamara to leave. After another conflict, she decided to poison Ulanova, and she really did it.
Arrest and confession of Tamara Samsonova
Tamara was arrested on July 27, 2015, after being filmed by CCTV cameras near her home, removing the body parts of her latest victim, Valentina Ulanova, in a black plastic bag, and carrying a cooking pot containing her head.
Tamara appeared at a court hearing accused of killing Valentina Ulanova. Tamara travelled to Pushkin, where she managed to persuade a pharmacist to sell her a prescription drug, phenazepam. Upon returning to the city, she bought an Olivier salad, one of Ulanova’s favourite dishes, then put the pills in the salad and gave it to her. After that, Tamara cut her up with a hacksaw while she was still alive. Her torso was found in a pond in St. Petersburg.
Tamara recorded her murders in graphic detail. One diary entry reads: “I killed my tenant called Volodya, cut him up into little pieces with a knife in the bath, put the bits of the body into plastic bags and scattered them all over the Frunzensky district.”
Tamara blew kisses at the press during her court appearance and told the magistrate: “I did it to be known as a serial killer. It’s all deliberate. I’ve been preparing for this day for 10 years. l am a very old person and I now have nowhere to live, so I decided that I must go to prison.”
“I will die there and the State will probably bury me. It is such a disgrace for me. I am guilty and deserve a punishment”
Tamara’s trials and compulsory treatment
Tamara was remanded in custody to await trial in connection with 14 murders. She supposedly suffers from schizophrenia and was previously hospitalized three times in psychiatric hospitals.
She was forced to take a forensic psychiatric exam, and on November 26, 2015, the results determined that she was a danger to society and herself, and therefore she was placed in a specialized institution until the end of the investigation.
In December 2015, Tamara was sent for compulsory psychiatric treatment in a specialized hospital in Kazan.