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Sergei Ryakhovsky

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Title: Sergei Ryakhovsky  
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Subject: List of serial killers by country, List of serial killers by number of victims, List of Russian serial killers
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Sergei Ryakhovsky

Sergei Vasilyevich Ryakhovsky (29 December 1963 - 2005, Russian: Серге́й Васильевич Ряховский) a.k.a. The Hippopotamus, The Balashikha Ripper, was a Soviet and Russian serial killer and rapist who between 1988 and 1993 killed in and around Moscow at least 19 people aged 14 to 78 years including 12 women, five men and two boys. He also assaulted six other victims, who survived.


Ryakhovsky's modus operandi was strangulation by rope or by bare hands, though victims were also sometimes stabbed or mutilated by tools (usually a knife, hammer or screwdriver). Mutilation of the bodies was usually focused on the genital area. Almost all of Ryakhovsky's victims were raped after death. His last victims show the signs of an escalation in violence.

In January 1993 Ryakhovsky murdered a 78-year-old man, cut off his head with a hunting knife and, one day later, returned to cut off his leg. He ruptured the abdomen of his next victim, a 65-year-old woman, with a weak pyrotechnical device.[1] He hanged, eviscerated, and then decapitated his penultimate victim, a 16-year-old boy, with a knife.

The press nicknamed Ryakhosky 'The Hippopotamus' because of his thick-necked, heavy-handed and pasty-faced appearance and hulking posture (six feet six inches tall and weighing in at 280 lbs).[2]


During a routine search of the crime scene area, investigators found a shack with a noose fixed to the ceiling. Considering it a part of the preparation for the next murder, they decided to set an ambush. On 13 April 1993 Ryakhovsky arrived at the shack and was subsequently arrested by the Militsiya officers. Despite his considerable strength and violent temperament shown later at trial, Ryakhovsky showed absolutely no resistance. Later he admitted that, after seeing weapons in the hands of officers, he became frozen with fear.[3]


During investigation Ryakhovsky cooperated with officials and investigators, willingly indicating crime scenes and describing methods of killing. According to his confessions, most murders were not planned and were rather an effect of a sudden impulse forcing him to "clean the world of homosexuals and prostitutes" (the same explanations were used to explain motivation behind the murder of a 70-year-old woman and 78-year-old man Ryahovski accidentally met in the forest). There was an exception however, as the murder of three homosexuals met in Izmailovski Park in 1988 were thoroughly planned, and the murder of a 45-year-old woman that, according to Ryakhovsky, was a result of his sexual urges. Most victims were people over 40 and around 50 years of age, while three of his victims were over 60.

Trial and verdict

According to psychiatrists from the Moscow Serbsky Institute, Ryakhovsky's necrophiliac tendencies were caused by a malfunction in his central nervous system. Ryakhovsky was evaluated as sane, competent for trial and fully responsible for his actions, however. After being informed of his diagnosis, Ryakhovsky's behaviour changed dramatically. The accused, at first complacent and fully cooperating with the investigators, suddenly became obtrusive, stopped cooperating and began demanding punishment for the experts. He also revoked his previous confessions.

During the period of the October events in Moscow in 1993, Ryakhovsky, who supported the Supreme Soviet, wrote a letter to Alexander Rutskoy claiming that he is an innocent victim of the "anti-national authority".

Ryakhovsky was sentenced to death by firing squad in July 1995. After hearing the verdict he said: "I will be back". However, in 1996 Russia imposed a moratorium on executions and the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in the maximum-security penal colony IK1.[4] Ryakhovsky died in 2005 due to a long untreated tuberculosis.


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