“What, he’s still alive?”
“He’s still moving his arms after I ripped up his intestines.”
-Suprunyuk and Sayenko in the video of Sergei Yatzenko’s murder
Viktor Sayenko, Igor Suprunyuk, and Alexander Hanzha, collectively known as “The Dnepropetrovsk Maniacs”, were a pack of Ukrainian thrill killers who brutally killed dozens of people during a murder spree that lasted nearly four weeks. While Hanzha never directly participated in the murders, he is considered a part of the group as he was aware of the criminal activities.
Sayenko, Suprunyuk, and Hanzha were all born in 1988 to wealthy, influential parents and attended school together. The three individuals had several phobias, which they dealt with by doing strange activities, such as standing on a balcony of their apartment, hanging over the railing to combat their fear of heights. Hanzha had blood phobia, which Suprunyuk suggested tackling by actually torturing and killing stray dogs. The three then proceeded to do so and taking pictures of them standing beside the corpses. The boys were also apparently enthusiasts over the Nazi cause.
After graduating high school, Sayenko and Hanzha went to their respective jobs, while Suprunyuk, officially being unemployed, became an unlicensed taxi driver. The three took up robbing Suprunyuk’s passengers, some of whom were reported to later wind up as their victims. On March 1, 2007, Hanzha committed two armed robberies that he would end charged for. Eventually, Sayenko and Suprunyuk apparently lost interest in robbing and decided to take it to the next step, murdering random people for the sheer thrill of it. On July 25, 2007, with Ekaterina Ilchenko and Roman Tatarevich, Sayenko and Suprunyuk initiated their killing spree, randomly picking pedestrians and then bludgeoning them with blunt objects, such as hammers and steel construction bars, and recording some of the murders. Several victims were also robbed of their possessions.
Multiple bodies would be found in one day, usually two. Additionally, some victims weren’t killed in Dnepropetrovsk, but towns located in the surrounding areas. Their spree came to public attention after a survivor, fourteen-year-old Vadim Lyakhov, immediately ran to the police after his friend was murdered by them, and also when a victim, Natalia Mamarchuk, was beaten to death in front of many witnesses. The investigation was kept secret at first, but eventually, sketches were distributed and the victims’ stolen possessions were listed to local pawn shops. The three were arrested a week after the spree ended, when Suprunyuk tried selling a mobile phone belonging to one of his victims. The phone had to be turned on to ensure it worked, allowing law enforcement agents to find it and trace its location, leading to the arrests of Sayenko and Suprunyuk.
Meanwhile, authorities invaded Hanzha’s home and arrested him, but not before he managed to erase the information on numerous stolen mobile phones he attempted to flush down the toilet. Sayenko, Suprunyuk, and Hanzha were all charged for numerous instances of premeditated murder (excluding Hanzha), animal cruelty, robbery, and armed robbery. All three immediately made confessions, though Suprunyuk would go on to withdraw his. Eventually, all three men were found guilty to all of their respective charges. Sayenko and Suprunyuk were both sentenced to life imprisonment, while Hanzha was sentenced to nine years in prison, the brief sentence being because Hanzha never participated in the murders. Sayenko and Suprunyuk’s ghastly videos of their murders received a large amount of attention. One of the videos managed to find its way into the Internet on December 4, 2008; it is a recording of the brutal murder of Sergei Yatzenko, who was killed on July 27, 2007. The leaking of the video received criticism, but it was later admitted that control over videos posted on the Internet was “virtually impossible”.
Sayenko and Suprunyuk killed their victims by savagely bludgeoning them with blunt objects like hammers and steel construction rods. They often aimed for the faces, beating them so badly that the victims would be almost unrecognizable. Some of the victims were also subjugated to torture and mutilation, the latter of which included the gouging out of eyes, and some were also robbed of their possessions, which Sayenko and Suprunyuk would later sell at pawn shops.
A.K.A.: “The Dnepropetrovsk Maniac”
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: The killers had a plan to get rich from the murder videos that they recorded
Number of victims: 21
Date of murders: June 25, 2007 – July 16, 2007
Date of arrest: July 23, 2007
Date of birth: 1988
Victims profile: Men, women and children
Method of murder: Hitting with hammers and steel construction bars – Stabbing with knife
Location: Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on February 11, 2009
Responsible for a string of brutal murders in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine in June and July 2007. The case gained additional notoriety because the killers made video recordings of some of the murders, with one of the videos leaking to the Internet. Two 19-year-old locals, Viktor Sayenko (Ukrainian: Віктор Саєнко, Russian: Виктор Саенко) and Igor Suprunyuck (Ukrainian: Ігор Супрунюк, Russian: Игорь Супрунюк), were arrested and charged with 21 murders.
A third conspirator, Alexander Hanzha (Ukrainian: Олександр Ганжа, Russian: Александр Ганжа), was charged with two armed robberies that took place before the murder spree. On February 11, 2009, all three defendants were found guilty. Suprunyuck and Sayenko were sentenced to life imprisonment, while Hanzha received nine years in prison. The lawyers for Suprunyuck and Sayenko launched an appeal, which was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Ukraine in November 2009.
The first two murders took place late on June 25, 2007. The first victim was a 33-year-old local woman named Ekaterina Ilchenko, who was walking home after having tea at her friend’s apartment. According to Sayenko’s confession, he and Suprunyuck were “out for a walk.” Suprunyuck had a hammer. As Ilchenko walked past, Suprunyuck “spun around” and struck her in the side of the head. Ilchenko’s body was found by her mother at 5 AM.
Within an hour of the first murder, the two men attacked their next victim, Roman Tatarevich. He was sleeping on a bench a short walk away from the first murder scene. Tatarevich’s head was smashed with blunt objects numerous times, rendering him unrecognizable. The bench he was discovered on was located across the street from the local Public Prosecutor’s office.
On July 1, two more victims, Evgeniya Grischenko and Nikolai Serchuk, were found murdered in the nearby town of Novomoskovsk.
On the night of July 6, three more people were murdered in Dnipropetrovsk. The first was Egor Nechvoloda, a recently discharged army recruit, who was bludgeoned while walking home from a night club. His mother found the body in the morning by their apartment building on Bohdan Khmelnytsky Street. Elena Shram, a 28-year-old night guard, was then murdered around the corner on Kosiora Street. According to Sayenko’s taped confession, as Shram walked towards them, Suprunyuck struck her with the hammer he had been hiding under his shirt and struck her several more times after she fell down. She had been carrying a bag filled with clothes. The men picked up the bag, used the clothes to clean the hammer, and threw the bag out. Later the same night, the men murdered a woman named Valentina Hanzha (no apparent relation to co-defendant Alexander Hanzha), a mother of three married to a disabled husband.
The next day, July 7, two 14-year-old boys from Podgorodnoye, a nearby village, were attacked in broad daylight as they went fishing. One of the two friends, Andrei Sidyuck, was killed, but the other, Vadim Lyakhov, managed to escape.
On July 12, a 48-year-old man named Sergei Yatzenko, disabled by a recent bout with cancer, went missing while riding his Dnepr motorcycle. His body was found four days later, with signs of a savage attack clearly visible even after four days in the summer heat.
Twelve more murders followed, often with multiple bodies found in the same day. In addition to the earlier sprees, two victims were found every day from July 14 through 16. Victims were seemingly selected at random. Many were vulnerable to attack, including women, children, elderly, vagrants, or people under the influence of alcohol.
Most of the victims were killed using blunt objects, including hammers and steel construction bars. Blows were often directed at the victims’ faces, leaving them unrecognizable. Many victims were also mutilated and tortured, and some had their eyes gouged out while they were still alive. One of the victims was a pregnant woman, whose fetus was cut out of her womb. No sexual assaults on any victims were reported.
Some of the victims were also robbed of their cell phones and other valuables, with their possessions pawned to a large network of second-hand shops in the area. However, most victims had their possessions intact.
The murders spanned a large geographical area. In addition to the city of Dnipropetrovsk itself, many took place in the outlying areas of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.