Slavery is illegal in most countries, and we often think of slaveholders as relics from the 1800s.
But there have been many examples in recent years of people who have been held captive against their will. Usually they are women kept in basements for the sexual pleasure of their abductors, and often, they don’t make it out alive. Few kidnappers, though, are as calculating as Russian serial killer Alexander Komin was.
The media named him the Maniac of the 20th Century because he kept women in a sophisticated, booby-trapped bunker to keep them inside and the police out. Though three women escaped his grasp, he ended four lives during his reign of terror.
Komin met an inmate in prison in the early 1990s who described kidnapping homeless people and controlling them with absolute power. Komin decided this was his goal upon release.
Komin and his accomplice Alexander Mikheyev decided their slaves would make clothes for their financial gain, and together they spent four years digging and outfitting a bunker with electricity and an elevator.
Komin poisoned and captured Vera Tolpayeva first, and then used her to lure two professional tailors to the bunker: Tatyana Melnikova and her boyfriend Nikolai Malykh.
Malykh was killed and his body was dumped nearby. When Tolpayeva became sick, Komin forced her to choose between drinking antifreeze or having it injected in her veins. She chose to drink the antifreeze and died.
Another woman, Tatyana Kozikova, believed she was accepting a job from Komin when she was captured. And yet another victim, Tatyana Nazimova, was forced to drink antifreeze after Komin discovered that she had leukemia and couldn’t work hard enough for him.
Komin hired Yevgeny Shishov to expand the bunker. After he completed the project, Komin decided to kill him because he knew too much. The bodies were piling up, but police believed that all the deaths were related to alcohol, so they didn’t investigate them.
When his last victim, Irina Ganushin, managed to escape, she went to the police and told them about the bunker, making sure to warn them of its booby-trapped electric ladder. They were able to rescue the two women who were still alive. Komin had tattooed the word “slave” on their foreheads.
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In the video below, you can see Komin as well as his bunker. The rescued women were hospitalized and slowly reintroduced to the sun, which they hadn’t seen in two years.
Komin faced just 20 years in prison after cooperating with authorities. He committed suicide shortly after being sentenced.