The stereotypical image of a serial killer rarely aligns with the figure of an elderly woman. Yet, in 2015, a revelation from Russia challenged this perception, as a frail old lady was apprehended for a series of heinous murders, sending shockwaves of revulsion across the world.
In the latter part of July 2015, authorities revealed the arrest of Tamara Samsonova, 68, previously employed in the hospitality industry. She was charged with the murder of Valentina Nikolaevna Ulanova, 79, whom Samsonova had been caring for.
Following the murder, a ghastly sequence of events unfolded: Samsonova dismembered Ulanova’s body using a hacksaw and disposed of the remains by a pond near her apartment. This macabre act was captured on security footage, showing Samsonova dragging a large black garbage bag, which contained Ulanova’s body, out of her residence.
After her arrest, further disturbing allegations surfaced. Samsonova was suspected of the murder and dismemberment of a 44-year-old male tenant in 2003. A search of her apartment unearthed the man’s business card. While his identity remained undisclosed, Samsonova confessed to the murder, which occurred under similar gruesome circumstances as Ulanova’s.
Her diary chillingly documented the act: “I killed my tenant Volodya, cut him into pieces in the bathroom with a knife, put the pieces of his body in plastic bags, and then threw them away.”
Police searches in her apartment also led to the discovery of a journal, which disturbingly chronicled at least ten murders over two decades. These entries, penned in Russian, English, and German, intermingled mundane daily activities with grisly murder details. Further investigations in her home uncovered blood spatters and a knife stained with blood traces.
Neighbors of Samsonova hinted at her troubled past, including periods spent in psychiatric care. Initially, upon interrogation, she claimed to be an actress and an alumna of the prestigious Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet. This narrative later shifted to her admitting to being a hotel attendant at a renowned Russian hotel.
Who Is Tamara Samsonova?
Born on April 25, 1947, in Uzhur, now a part of Krasnoyarsk Krai, Tamara Samsonova’s early life began in the quietude of this Russian city. Upon completing her high school education, she ventured to Moscow, where she pursued higher studies at the Moscow State Linguistic University. After graduating, Samsonova relocated to St. Petersburg, marking a new chapter in her life as she wed Alexei Samsonova.
In 1971, the couple established their home in a newly erected panel house on Dimitrov Street, laying down roots in their domestic life. Samsonova’s professional journey led her to the Intourist travel agency, where she notably contributed her skills at the Grand Hotel Europe. By the time she retired, she had accumulated a substantial 16 years of experience in the industry.
However, the year 2000 brought a much darker turn to her narrative. It was then that her husband Alexei mysteriously vanished — a disappearance that Samsonova later insinuated she was responsible for, involving the alleged murder and disposal of his body. Despite her immediate report to the police, their efforts to locate him were fruitless.
Fifteen years later, in April 2015, Samsonova once again approached the authorities, specifically the investigative unit of the Fruzensky District in St. Petersburg, to issue a statement regarding her husband’s disappearance.
The Murders by Samsonova
Following her husband’s disappearance, Samsonova began renting a room in her apartment. On September 6, 2003, she had a dispute with her tenant, a 44-year-old man from Norilsk, which resulted in her killing him.
She dismembered his body and scattered the remains in the streets of St. Desyhis Way.
In March 2015, Samsonova encountered 79-year-old Valentina Nikolaevna Ulanova, a resident of Dimitrov Street. Due to renovations in Samsonova’s apartment, a mutual acquaintance requested Ulanova to accommodate Samsonova temporarily.
Ulanova agreed, and Samsonova stayed with her for several months, assisting with household chores. Over time, Samsonova grew fond of the apartment and resisted leaving, leading to a strained relationship with Ulanova, who eventually asked her to move out.
In response to this conflict, Samsonova decided to poison Ulanova. She traveled to Pushkin, where she convinced a pharmacist to sell her phenazepam, a prescription drug. Upon her return, Samsonova prepared an Olivier salad, a favorite of Ulanova’s, and laced it with the drug. She then served the tainted salad to Ulanova, who was unaware of its contents.
Upon finding Ulanova on the floor at 2 AM, Samsonova proceeded to dismember her body on the kitchen floor. She described using a hacksaw to sever Ulanova’s head and hands and then boiling these parts on the stove.
In the early days of the following month, Russian investigators revealed their belief that Samsonova’s crimes extended beyond murder and dismemberment. According to their findings, Samsonova also engaged in acts of cannibalism, specifically targeting the lungs of her victims for consumption.
She had to make multiple trips outside the apartment to dispose of the bags containing the body parts. Samsonova left portions of Ulanova’s remains scattered around the house.
On the evening of July 26, Ulanova’s decapitated and dismembered body, wrapped in a shower curtain, was discovered near a pond on Dimitrov Street. Initially, the package went unnoticed for several days until a local resident investigated it.
The identity of the deceased was confirmed on July 27 following a survey of apartment residents. When authorities knocked on Ulanova’s door, Samsonova answered. Inside the apartment, the police found blood traces in the bathroom and remnants of the torn shower curtain. Following these discoveries, Samsonova was promptly arrested.
The Trial and Further Proceedings
Samsonova was presented on July 29, 2015, before the Frunze District Court of St. Petersburg. Subsequently, she underwent a detailed forensic psychiatric evaluation. The findings, released on November 26, 2015, concluded that Samsonova posed a significant risk to both society and herself. Consequently, she was committed to a specialized institution for the remainder of the investigative process.
In December 2015, further measures were taken, as Samsonova was transferred to a dedicated psychiatric facility in Kazan for compulsory treatment.
Only a few days after this revelation, the scope of the investigation into Samsonova’s alleged crimes expanded significantly. Investigators came to believe that she could be responsible for up to 21 murders, far exceeding the initial estimates. However, it has since come down to 14.
Media outlets have reported on the discovery of a diary belonging to Samsonova, which included detailed accounts of several murders. A notable entry, translated from Russian to English, explicitly confessed to the murder of her tenant, identified as Volodya.
The entry chillingly described the dismemberment of the body in the bathroom, followed by the disposal of the body parts in plastic bags across different locations in the Frunzensky District.
Next, read about Isador and Ida Strauss, the Millionaires who gave up their lifeboat seats and died, and then about the Disturbing Truth of What Really Happened to the Delphi Kids!
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