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The nickname “Satan in a skirt” is not the most flattering – but there is no denying that Russian serial killer Irina Viktorovna Gaidamachuk is one of the world’s most dangerous women.
She began her chilling killing spree 20 years ago and here we take a look inside her chaotic and booze-fuelled life.
This month vodka-obsessed Gaidamachuk will celebrate her 51st birthday – but she will have to do so behind bars.
READ MORE: Russia’s most evil killers – from mum and son who ate corpses to OAP murderer
That’s because she was convicted of 17 murders and one attempted murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison before the judge reduced it to 20.
But how did the innocent looking brunette become a brutal killer who targeted vulnerable older women aged between 61 and 89?
Troubled Gaidamachuk was born in Nyagan, an old Soviet Union town in the north-west of Russia.
Her parents, who reportedly enjoyed cracking open booze themselves, struggled to control Gaidamachuk from an early age.
And once she became a teenager her substance abuse began and she soon made swigging vodka a habit.
Keen for a fresh start, she moved to the town of Krasnoufimsk, a whole day’s train ride away from her hometown.
And it was this new area that would shape the course of her life.
It was where she got married, had two kids and started her sickening eight-year killing spree that eventually led to a second unflattering nickname – ‘the Monster of Krasnoufimsk’.
Tragically, the reason she killed her victims was to fund her vodka dependence.
Her husband, Yuri, later said he never suspected his wife was a killer but her alcohol did cause family tension.
Yuri reportedly stopped letting Gaidamachuk access cash because he feared she would waste their money on alcohol.
And it was drink that inspired her to kill and the first victim was an elderly woman who she helped cross the road with her shopping bags.
The OAP was so grateful to Gaidamachuk that she invited her back to her home.
But once Gaidamachuk was inside she whacked the unsuspecting woman over the head with a vase.
And as her victim lay lifeless, she scrambled around for cash, and only left with a measly £20.
From that moment, her murderous spree continued, and it would be eight years before she was ever stopped.
She managed to escape the attention of the cops for years because the authorities were convinced they were hunting a man.
Therefore, Gaidamachuk was free to strut around town with a hammer in her handbag scoping out lonely OAPs before posing as a social worker to gain their trust.
She would then repeatedly batter them over the head with a hammer or axe before fleeing with whatever cash she could find.
But her cruel murders finally came to an end in 2010 when one of her victims, Bilbinur Makshaeva, survived.
She reported her ordeal to the police who were shocked to learn a female was responsible for the attack.
Despite the lead, they still believed a man dressed as a woman may have been to blame, due to the vicious nature of the deaths.
One woman was actually arrested and confessed under pressure, before police eventually uncovered who the real killer was after questioning more than 3,000 people.
Investigator Kirill Melenkov was quoted as saying: “At some point, Gaidamachuk decided she would never be caught, and started searching for victims among the people she knew.
“Her last victim hired her to make repairs. That’s how we managed to find the killer. She also started leaving notes, ‘Be home at 11.00, a social worker will visit.’ A simple handwriting test helped identify the murderer.”
Gaidamachuk was then arrested in June 2010 before she was sentenced two years later for the 17 murders and attempted murder of Bilbinur.
She remains locked up but it is possible that she will be let free in 2032.
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