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‘Stepfather’ at large Former convict added to federal wanted list following the brutal murder of two children in Rybinsk

Source: Meduza
Russian Investigative Committee for the Yaroslavl Region
Update: Police have arrested the suspected killer, Vitaly Molchanov, and released a video where he confesses to murdering the two children.

On the night of September 15, two young girls were killed in Rybinsk, Yaroslavl Region: 8-year-old Elena and 13-year-old Yana. The children’s bodies were found by their 40-year-old mother Valentina after she returned home from work. The Telegram channel 112 reports that their bodies were “brutally slashed with a knife.” Knives and axes used in the murder were found at the scene of the crime, the local outlets YarNews and Yarnovosti report. According to the Telegram channel Life Shot, the girls had been dismembered. The Yaroslavl-based news site 76.ru reported that the younger girl was “cut into pieces” and the older girl had been “raped and torn apart.” Investigators reported the rape of both girls (without specifying if it took place before or after they were killed). The Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case for murder and rape, which is being investigated by the agency’s Main Investigative Directorate.

“A criminal case was opened over the murder of two children in the Yaroslavl Region”
Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation

The suspect in the murder case is Vitaly Alexeyevich Molchanov, a 41-year-old man who the girls and their mother had been living with. He remains at large and police officials have added him to a federal wanted list. The authorities have also announced a 500,000-ruble award (worth about $6,650) for information leading to his arrest, the Yaroslavl Region’s Governor Dmitry Mironov wrote on Facebook. 

Valentina (the children’s mother) met Vitaly Molchanov on a dating site in March, Life Shot reports. He told her that he had previously served time in a prison colony for murder (according to other reports, she was unaware of his past). At the beginning of July, according to Life Shot, Valentina travelled from Omsk to Rybinsk so she and Molchanov could meet in person — she moved there with her daughters three weeks later and took a job as a nurse at a local hospital. The prosecutors office said that the family moved to Rybinsk about a month ago. But the news site 76.ru claims that Valentina and her children came there from Omsk in the spring. Valentina told investigators that Molchanov was “good” — he gave her money, spoiled the children, and they had made big plans for their life together. One of the teachers at Rybinsk School Number 36, where the two girls studied, said that they referred to Molchanov as their step-father.

According to the version of events put forward by 112 and YarNews, Molchanov committed the double murder out of jealousy, because Valentina had been at work for more than 24 hours. On the evening of September 14, Valentina called him to find out how the girls were doing. He said that the eldest had come home and gone to sleep, and the younger girl was playing with a tablet. When Valentina came home, she found her two daughters dead and Molchanov wasn’t there. He left home on a white bicycle. According to Yarnovosti’s source, Molchanov had withdrawn a large sum of money from his bank accounts shortly beforehand.

Vitaly Molchanov captured on video in a recording distributed by police officials

Vitaly Molchanov had previous convictions for murder, rape, sexual assault, illegal confinement, and desecration of human remains, reports YarNews. According to Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Anna Kuznetsova, Molchanov has been tried for the rape and murder of a child before. A Yekaterinburg court convicted him in July 2010; he made several unsuccessful attempts to challenge the decision and was then released in December 2019. After arriving in Rybinsk, Molchanov took a job at a cable plant. 

According to the outlet NGS.ru, the children’s father is a police officer by the name of Valentin S. Although NGS.ru didn’t provide a last name, judging by the information available on the Interior Ministry’s website, his full name is Valentin Saprunov. He worked as the head of a temporary detention facility, before going on to head the criminal investigation department in the town of Krasnozyorskoye in the Novosibirsk Region. While some reports maintain that he still works for the Interior Ministry, others claim that he has retired already. What we do know is that some time ago the girls’ mother, Valentina, divorced the police officer, moved to Omsk, and then from there to Rybinsk. The girls’ father asked to be recognized as a victim in the case, so he could receive information about the investigation’s progress. He maintains that he didn’t know who his ex-wife was living with. He also added that if he had known that she was living with a former criminal, he would have taken his daughters. 

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Story by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Eilish Hart 

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