A discovery of severed legs ‘belonging to a 24-year-old PhD student murdered by her professor lover’ has been made in a St Petersburg river, say police sources.
Prominent Russian military historian Oleg Sokolov, 63, has confessed to stabbing and dismembering Anastasia Yeschenko.
The Napoleon expert – now remanded in custody – said the couple were due to marry next year but he killed her and wrecked his own life ‘in several seconds’ of madness, he claimed.
The severed legs were found in the Moika River in a plastic bag close to tsarist Yusupov’s Palace, scene of the murder of notorious monk Grigory Rasputin, say law enforcement sources.
A police officer stands by after Anastasia Yeschenko’s severed legs were found in the Moika River
Prominent Russian military historian Oleg Sokolov, 63, (right) has confessed to stabbing and dismembering Anastasia Yeschenko (left)
Lawyer Alexandra Baksheyeva, representing the victim’s mother, said of the find nine weeks after the PhD student was found dead: ‘It is believed these are Anastasia’s remains.’
The discovery comes seven weeks after video showed the professor throwing body parts into the river which flows next to the palace.
Sokolov has publicly urged the Russian courts to use the full force of the law against him in his upcoming trial.
‘I understand that I committed an horrific thing and deserve the strictest penalty possible,’ he said in a confession penned to newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.
A police officer stands over a bag containing the gruesome discovery close to tsarist Yusupov’s Palace
His academic career and achievements including the French Legion of Honour was ‘crossed out in a few seconds’ when he shot his student lover, he admitted.
‘I don’t care what is said about me. It doesn’t matter,’ he said. I killed her and myself too. I do not exist.
‘My cherished memory of Anastasia is the most important thing for me now.
‘We were supposed to get married and were planning the wedding.
‘In over five years (dating) I had not raised my hand to her. Even scandals between us were rare.’
He faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
St Petersburg State University history professor Oleg Sokolov (centre) was flanked by officers and wearing protective clothing for the crime reenactment on Friday
The Napoleon expert was taken from his custody cell to his luxury St Petersburg flat to show detectives how he committed the murder as part of the criminal investigation on Friday
The victim’s father Oleg Eschenko said he expected to exhume his daughter’s body so that her legs could be interred with the rest of her remains after full forensic analysis was completed.
Her parents have dismissed Sokolov’s lawyer’s claim that the professor from St Petersburg State University has apologised to them over the Anastasia’s death.
‘Sokolov has not apologised personally,’ he said, but instead had given seven separate excuses why he killed her including that there was a full moon.
‘I asked [her to leave him], but she loved that person,’ said the father. And if you love someone, it is in vain to try to talk them off.’
Prior to the finding, Sokolov was taken from his custody cell to his luxury St Petersburg flat to show detectives how he committed the murder as part of the criminal investigation.
Leading Russian military historian Oleg Sokolov (pictured), 63, has confessed to stabbing and dismembering 24-year-old Anastasia Yeschenko before disposing of her body parts in a river
With his handcuffs off he tried to grab the Napoleonic sword but was stopped by officers, say law enforcement sources.
His lawyer Alexander Pochuev said: ‘The defence can only confirm that he tried to commit suicide.
‘He was stopped by policemen. There was no threat to third parties, the act was aimed only at himself.’
He had been taken to the reenactment wearing a police helmet and bullet proof vest for his own protection.
The sword had been lying on a table.
During the reenactment he demonstrated on a mannequin how he killed the PhD student and cut up her body using a saw.
Sokolov accompanied by police officers for Friday’s crime re-enactment. The historian allegedly shot and killed his lover during an argument and then sawed off her head, arms and legs
The victim’s grieving mother today claimed Anastasia had told Sokolov she was leaving him – and she believes this triggered his violent attack.
Galina Yeschenko, a 49-year-old police Lt-Colonel, said: ‘She just got fed up with total control by Sokolov, and she told him that she was leaving.’
The mother told Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper she had earlier urged her daughter to leave a man old enough to be her grandfather.
Yeshchenko (pictured) had been shot at least four times with a rifle after an argument, and her decapitated body and a blood-stained saw were found at the historian’s home, it is claimed
Sokolov dancing with his 24-year-old student lover Anastasia Yeshchenko at a ball just a year before he killed her and dismembered her body
Pochuev said Sokolov was ‘tormented’ after shooting his lover four times and dismembering her body.
‘He repents,’ he said. ‘He wants to apologise to the family, to the extent this is possible and wishes to correct the situation.’
The lawyer claimed the killing may have happened because of a full moon.
‘It is a known medical fact that many schizophrenic debuts… happen this time,’ he said.
Sokolov is in custody pending the murder investigation.
The victim’s grieving mother Galina Yeschenko (pictured) claimed Anastasia had told Sokolov she was leaving him – and she believes this triggered his violent attack