Gran who ‘handed out jellied snacks made from flesh of murder victims’ dies of Covid
Sofya Zhukova has died of coronavirus at the age of 81 (Image: CEN)
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A grandma who handed out jellied snacks made from the flesh of people she is claimed to have murdered has died of coronavirus.
Sofya Zhukova, 81, died in prison in Russia while on remand awaiting prosecution over at least three killings with police suspecting there may be a further four victims.
Police say her victims include an eight-year-old girl who was allegedly killed after she cheekily threw ice cream at the OAP after being told to be quiet.
When police arrested the grey-haired pensioner they found human intestines in her fridge and she was dubbed the "Russian Sweeney Todd".
Sweeney Todd is a British Victorian tale about a barber who sells people pies made with human flesh.
A few fragments of human remains were found at the time that they identified as belonging to the child – shocking the girl's mother Natalya Alekseenko.
Even when the woman was put on trial she refused to accept that her daughter might not still be alive somewhere.
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Police say she started to carry out the murders after the death of her husband in 2005.
She was held by police after janitor Vasily Shlyakhtich, 52, who had agreed to rent a room in her apartment in the village of Berezovka, located in the Khabarovsk urban district of the Khabarovsk Territory, vanished in January 2019.
Locals said the woman had spent years working as a labourer and was strong for her age, and often carried an axe with her.
They had often complained about her killing local cats, but had never suspected her of also killing people.
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One local identified only by her first name Tatyana said at the time: "We always found it strange that despite being surly and unfriendly, she would often find the time to cook things for the local children.
"They were always meat dishes. Sometimes she gave them to the adults, she bought me and my husband plates with jellied meat."
She added: "I remember it well because my husband said let's not eat it, you never know what it was made from, and now it looks like he was right."
Tatyana said police had confirmed that she used meat from the people she killed for the dishes.
The three murders she was on trial over include the eight-year-old girl, Mr Shlyakhtich and a 77-year-old woman.
The grandma is suspected of killing a further four people
Under interrogation, she admitted to killing her lodger, and as the police probed deeper, they were shocked when she then allegedly also admitted to killing an eight-year-old girl who disappeared in December 2005.
She went on trial in October over the other murders where she shocked the court by laughing as the charges were read out, and the hearing continued into last year when the court ordered a retrial in June.
The case which was being heard at the Khabarovsk Regional Court was then delayed because of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
As well as the three people she was accused of murdering, police also believe that she was responsible for the murder of a female friend, Nina Babenko, aged 83, after she moved in as a lodger in April 2013.
She was never seen again.
Local media said that Mikhailovna had worked in a slaughterhouse before becoming a security guard at "Teplichnik" – a local company.
She was married to a man called Ivan, who worked as a plumber dealing with heating at a local company. He died in the summer of 2005, six months before the girl disappeared.
The couple had three sons, although one died and the other two who survived still live in the Khabarovsk region.
They reportedly have families of their own there but never visited their mother or took her grandchildren to visit her.
A spokesman at the Russian Investigative Directorate in the Khabarovsk Territory said: “Criminologists discovered knives and saws on which they discovered traces of the blood of the victim. She was arrested for murder, and put in pre-trial detention as the investigation continued."