He stuffed the stolen bodies with rags, covered their faces with fabric and then proceeded to add color to them. Some dolls were lucky enough to get "eyes".
In eighteenth-century France lived a man called Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. Born with a rather heightened sense of smell, he gradually realizes that he lacks a scent of his own. Charmed by the scent of a young woman reaching puberty, he becomes obsessed with recreating that exact fragrance. He becomes an apprentice to master perfumer, Baldini, and strives to create his perfect perfume. As he inches closer to his goal, he begins to murder young women, guided by the belief that its the only way to achieve the scent of his dreams. Created by Patrick Süskind, the story of Grenouille and his eerie practice as depicted in the book, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, was merely fiction. But the story of Anatoly Moskvin is horrifyingly real. Reminded of Süskind's character, the Russian media was quick to christen the man The Perfumer. However, when you get to know of Moskvin's story, you realize that his crimes and intentions were rather different from Grenouille's.
Born in the Soviet Russian district of Gorki in 1966, Anatoly Yurevych Moskvin, grew up to be a fairly intelligent child. In fact, he was rather successful academically, at times, proving himself to be far superior to his peers, even back then. With the years, Moskvin became a rather well-known figure in Russian academic circles. A linguist, translator, writer and journalist, he knew 13 languages fluently, had several books published and even dabbled a bit in magic. Interestingly, he was also considered to be quite the expert when it came to local cemeteries as well.
So great was his expertise that he was commissioned to list and summarize the dead in more than 700 cemeteries spreading over 40 regions of the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast in 2005. A self-titled 'necropolyst', Moskvin's work was often hailed as pathbreaking and priceless. At the end of the day, such painstakingly extensive work indeed shows signs of undeniable genius. It also indicates an obvious obsession with the macabre. So when the police discovered 29 mummified young women from his house in 2011, most who knew him, couldn't believe that his obsession had reached such an extreme.
Dressed in colorful vintage clothing, the first glance Moskvin's dolls would probably remind you of antique dolls, all dressed up, with nowhere to go. But a closer look reveals a grisly truth. Underneath the color and make-up stained fabric that cover their hands and faces lie rotting flesh. His dolls were nothing but a vast collection of mummified women. And as the police moved some of them, music started up right on cue. You see, the necropolyst had installed music boxes in their chests too. And though he claimed to love his dolls, there were some that lay discarded in his garage. He had apparently grown to dislike them with time.
After his arrest, Moskvin opened up about his doll-making procedure. After digging up corpses and carrying them home with him in plastic bags, he would proceed to stuff them with rags and cover their faces with nylon tights and similar fabric before adding color to them. Some of his favorites were accessorized with buttons or glass eyes so that they could accompany him while he watched cartoons. The police even found a 'doll' fashioned as a teddy bear. Though the historian painstakingly robbed graves to find himself some friends, all his dolls had died years ago.
The investigation that led to Moskvin's arrest was actually sparked in 2009 when locals began to realize that there was a gravedigger prowling about, desecrating graves of their near and dear ones. While some suspected extremist organizations at play, they weren't sure of the motives for the crime. Finally, in 2011, the police managed to find a break that led them to him. Following a terrorist attack at Domodedovo airport in Moscow, authorities began to get reports of Muslim graves being desecrated in Nizhny Novgorod. Eventually, they found him at a Muslim cemetery where paintings of the deceased were being left on the graves, but nothing else was being desecrated.
"You abandoned your girls, I brought them home and warmed them up," he said to the families of his dolls. His confession of being a necrophiliac in the past was remembered once again with the discovery of the necropolyst's horrifying hobby, and the world was shocked. However, his arrest didn't see a trail full of drama and action. Though he did stand a chance to spend up to five years in prison, Moskvin was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was moved into a psychiatric ward. Over the years, it has been revealed that he is not clinically fit to appear at a trial of any sort.
It was 1979 when Moskvin had his first life-changing encounter with the macabre. Only 13 then, he was out collecting waste paper to recycle with his classmates when he was stopped by a group of people dressed in black. A party of mourners, they were on their way to the funeral of 12-year-old Natasha Petrova. The young boy then was forced to not just kiss the corpse, but also allow her heartbroken mother to place wedding rings on his finger and then on her daughter's. "My strange marriage with Natasha Petrova was useful," because it helped me develop an interest in 'serious magic ceremonies'," he later wrote about the incident.