Russia's worst woman serial killer, Irina Gaidamachuk, was dubbed 'Satan in a Skirt' after murdering 17 pensioners in eight year reign of terror.
Victims had their skulls smashed in with a hammer or ax by Irina Gaidamachuk who pretended to be a social worker
Police initially believed only a male killer could be so cruel, but investigation turned on account of sole survivor
The Motive For Murder
Mother of two, Irina Gaidamachuk, posed as a social worker to gain entry to the flats of her victims, the 41-year-old killed them by smashing their skulls with a hammer or an ax.
Then she robbed her victims, who were between 61- and 89-years-old, for the small amounts of cash in their purses.
In all her murders, police say she only gathered a total of around £1,000 from her victims. Sometimes she killed for as little as £20.
She confessed to police: 'I did it for money. I just wanted to be a normal mum, but I had a craving for drink.
'My husband Yury wouldn't give me money for vodka.
'A court in Yekaterinburg, which is Russia's fourth biggest city, heard evidence from psychiatrists that she was sane when she committed her murders.
Only one pensioner managed to escape, giving police the vital clue that the granny killer was a woman.
Crimes Too Cruel For A Woman To Commit
A police source said: 'We believed at first that only a man could be so cruel as to slaughter in this way.'
In fact, during a bungled investigation, in which the town of Krasnoufimsk was living in fear, officers also believed the killer could be a man dressed as a woman.
They also arrested the wrong woman, Irina Valeyeva, then 29, extracting a confession from an entirely innocent person.
After questioning more than 3,000 people they finally arrested the real killer in 2010.
For her final victim instead of posing as a social worker, she offered to redecorate 81-year-old Alexandra Povaritsyna's flat.
After she bludgeoned the pensioner to death, neighbours gave a description of the painter and police arrested her.
Gaidmachuk was known as an ordinary mother, who helped out at her younger daughter Anastasia's school.
One friend said: 'I simply cannot believe Irina is a mass murderer. She was a kind and gentle mother, always eager to help.'
No One Knew
Her husband Yury, who has since moved in with a new partner, said: 'I lived with her for 14 years but never suspected anything.'
But there was outrage among her relatives of her elderly victims that the killer was only sentenced to 20-years in prison.
One said: 'It's little more than one year for each murder. She never deserves to be freed.'
The judge said he exempted her for five years of the maximum 25 years 'because she is a mother'.
credit murderpedia / By Will Stewart