It’s been six years since we first reported on the strange and unsettling case of Tamara Samsonova, the so-called “Granny Ripper” whose unusual story of serial murder and possible cannibalism shocked the world.
The case shot to international infamy after it was reported that the then 68-year-old Samsonova was caught on CCTV camera footage carrying the pieces of a corpse in plastic bags around a pond where she attempted to dispose of the remains. It would later be revealed that the body was that of Valentina Nikolaevna Ulanova, a friend for whom she also acted as caretaker.
“I came home and put the whole pack of Phenazepam – 50 pills – into her Olivier salad. I woke up at 2AM and she was lying on the floor. So I started cutting her into pieces.”
During the investigation into Samsonova’s activities, the police would further find evidence that would reportedly connect her to a total of 14 murders including that of a former tenant named Volodya. Samsonova reportedly wrote in her diary that she killed the man after an argument. She dismembered him as well, and disposed of his body in the same location she would later use for Ulanova’s remains.
The woman’s trial was quite sensational. It was revealed that she had a history of mental illness, and her behavior during seemed to underline this as she was observed blowing kisses to the judge and reporters during the trial while giggling.
“I’m haunted by a maniac upstairs who forced me to kill,” and later on, “I have nowhere else to live. I am a very old person, and I put the whole matter to rest deliberately. I have thought 77 times about it and then decided that I must be in prison. I will die there and the state will probably bury me.’
At another point in the trial, she admitted that she had been waiting ten years for the police to arrive on her doorstep to arrest her.
She was eventually given a battery of psychological tests when it was determined that she was a danger to others and herself. Samsonova was remanded to a state-run mental health facility where she still resides to this day.
On the surface, it was an open and shut case, but there were elements to Samsonova’s story that remain puzzles even now.
For starters, her diary not only recounted her crimes but also seemed to hint that she used specific murders for what she believed were dark magic rituals. Moreover, it was discovered that pages were missing from the diary and some of them, at least, were found with the body parts of Volodya, one of her earliest-known victims. These seemingly occult connections found her branded “Baba Yaga” in the Russian media, a reference to the powerful sometimes dark figure from Slavic folklore.
Then, there was the matter of her missing husband. Tamara married Alexi Samsonova in 1971. In 2005, she reported him missing. His body has never been found and he has been declared dead. He is not mentioned by name in her diary so it’s difficult to know if Alexi was one of her victims, but it seems likely given everything else that was discovered.
No matter the cause and the details, something about Tamara Samsonova captured the attention and imagination of the world. She has been the subject of numerous podcasts including episodes of Luminary, We Saw the Devil, and Killer Personality to name just a few. She’s also found herself the subject of a few intrepid true-crime YouTubers, some of which I’ll link below.
For me personally, I think there is a part of all of us that deems the elderly harmless. We expect that they cannot or will not do anything to hurt us. They are our grandparents or the kindly people down the street who always smile and wave as you go by. Outwardly, that’s who Samsonova was, and it shook the world audience when they realized that she was not only a brutal killer but that she seemingly did not begin killing until she was in her late 50s.
And that disturbs us most of all. Take a look at those videos below and let us know what you think of the case of Tamara Samsonova in the comments.